Our unconventional life under the same roof.

We All Matter

I’m obsessed with reading. I am constantly talking about books, buying books, and searching for new authors and titles. It’s not just books I’m obsessed with, it’s words. I love the way certain words feel when you speak them. I love the way you pair words together. I love everything about words.

I also have this incessant need to matter, to be known. I don’t know what it is, probably something that has to do with the culture and society we have grown up in, but I’m always worried my life means nothing. I feel that I have to be well-known or famous in order to do anything that will make a lasting impression. I know that isn’t true, of course, but I have these thoughts nonetheless.

That’s why when I read An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, I was encouraged. I love John Green’s writing. When I say: “I think he’s a genius”, I mean it. The metaphors he comes up with, and the topics of his books, are beautiful. He has a real talent, and I admire him for it.

An Abundance of Katherines is about a 17 year old boy named Colin Singleton. Colin is a child prodigy, who has not yet become a genius. As well as not accomplishing the title of “genius” yet, his girlfriend Katherine (of which he has dated 19 girls with the name Katherine, spelled K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E, over the course of his life) breaks up with him. So Colin and his best friend, Hassan, go on a road trip.

Throughout the entire book Colin is struggling with the idea that he’s being left behind, that he’s a washed up child prodigy with no future. He’s struggling with the idea that his life does not matter, while simultaneously trying to get over Katherine 19.

At the end of the book, Colin finally has his Eureka moment. He says all of these things about mattering, and not mattering, and being well-known, and not being well-known. I could type out the entire excerpt for you because I love it so much, but I won’t. I don’t want to ruin anything for those of you who decide to read it, which, by the way, you should. I am just going to include one quote from the book that I absolutely love, and can’t stop thinking about.

“And so we all matter – maybe less than a lot, but always more than none.”

This quote really gave me some comfort. It helped me see that while I’m never going to be well-known, I will be known by some. And what I do matters, who I decide to be matters, my life matters. And so does yours. 

These Things

We all have things in our lives. Things we hate, things we struggle with, things that help, and things that hurt. And one of the biggest things that we can struggle with is how we cope with those things.

How I cope, and work through these things is through music. I’ve been playing music ever since I was 10 years old. Playing drums was the first passion in my life. It was the one thing through which I could express myself wholly and fluently more than anything else. Since then I have expanded my expression to other instruments, but the reason and passion always stays the same.

The past couple of years have been tough on me musically. I’ve been in limbo. No one to work with, and no direction to go. So I wrote. I wrote about me, and the struggles, thoughts, regrets, and emotions that were always running through my head. Wondering what I was supposed to do, wanting to give up, my laziness in my marriage, being tired of the day-in-day-out, and most of all, my faithless and stagnant relationship with God. I was in a major rut that I kept digging myself deeper into.

The songs that came out of that time,  I recorded with a few good and very talented friends, and out came my debut EP, These Things. The album is the past couple of years, compiled into five songs that come straight from my heart. I felt that I should put this out, not as a career starter, or even as a promotional tool, but because I knew there are some people, maybe you, that would relate to the same feelings I had. Even maybe help someone through their own “things”.

So here it is. The EP is on iTunes now, and will soon be on Spotify, Rdio, and a bunch of other places. You can also listen to, and buy it below!

Thank you for reading, and listening. Hopefully, we can get through our things together.

Duncan released his debut solo EP, These Things, this month and you should take a listen!

In addition to his solo project, Duncan has started a new rock outfit with Corey Keller named “Sandusky“. Check out their first demo.

Words are to women what pictures are to men.

This is not a new revelation. It has been said for many years that for women, “Sex starts between the ears not between the legs”. This is something I feel some Christian women have chosen to overlook or have forgotten.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is a romance novel that, due to it’s explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage, dominance, and masochism is placed in the sub-genre of romance, labeled “Erotic”. If you are unfamiliar, here is the definition: Erotic literature comprises fictional and factual stories and accounts of human sexual relationships which have the power to or are intended to arouse the reader sexually.

I’m not sure when it became acceptable for Christian women to recommend erotic material to their friends, but this to me is a big double standard. I have heard this said many times in conversation between women, “…the story is just so good!”. I have not read the books to confirm or deny this opinion but I have read enough reviews to tell you it is poorly written. Erotic material and a poorly written story… that sounds familiar.

Picture a husband meets his buddies to watch a game, during a commercial break this conversation unfolds:

Rick: Anybody seen a good movie recently?

John: Dude! I just finished “Hoes Under Bros”. It was awesome! You should totally check it out.

Rick: I heard that had some pretty graphic sex scenes in it…

John: Well yeah, I mean it’s in the Adult section at blockbuster. But the story is so good, I just couldn’t stop watching!

Rick: Hmm.. my friend at work said that the male lead is very abusive and ties the girl up and stuff.

John: Yeah but that’s just the first one, in “Hoes Under Bros 2: Electric Boogaloo” you find out he really loves her.

Rick: Oh cool. Can I borrow it?

Now let’s say Rick came home with “Hoes Under Bros”, his wife yells the second she sees it, “Rick! Is this porn!?” Rick responds “Well, yeah honey, but John said the story is really good and they fall in love in the second movie”. Now I can’t speak for every wife in the world but I’m going to take a gamble and bet she does not say, “Oh they fall in love! Okay, that’s alright. Enjoy the movie!”

I know that story seems ridiculous and no Christian man is going to tell his buddies about a porno with a good story. But that is exactly what I see so many Christian women doing. The only difference is one is pictures, which christians agree is a black and white issue, and the other is words, which is apparently in the grey area.

So, do I personally think that christians should read erotic books? No, I don’t, but that is up to her personal convictions and whether or not she slips into lusting over the characters and visualizes herself in the situation. If a woman thinks that she can not lust while reading erotica then she should at least be aware that we, as christians, are called to guard our heart and even though the first books may not cause a woman to become aroused, her mind is most likely releasing dopamine and she is going to start searching out for more erotic books to give her mind another dose. In turn, possibly creating a vicious downward spiral taking her places she never dreamt she’d go.

I want to leave you with one final thought. If a woman can truly read erotica and not sin, not lust, not desire more, and she is free from conviction, then that is her right. But just as you wouldn’t drink alcohol, out of respect, in front of someone whom you know feels convicted by drinking, I feel christian women should be very mindful of who they are suggesting an erotic book to.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

1 Corinthians 8:9-13

I am far from perfect, I sin everyday. I just feel as christians we need to be a little more open about what we are reading and be able to hold each other accountable.

Update: For continued reading on this topic, xxxchurch.com posted a blog on Fifty Shades of Grey today as well. Check it out.

Summer Retreat

One of my daily titles is “Media Director” for CityChurch Tulsa. Once a year the CityChurch staff takes a short retreat to bond, relax, and prepare for the fall season. This year we stayed at Spring Vally Ranch, and being that SVR is only a short drive from Grand Lake, Molly, LoveTulsa Director at CityChurch, brought her boat for us to enjoy. I hadn’t had the privilege to be pulled behind a boat in many years so I was excited to get out on the lake. With my GoPro strapped to my chest I hit the Ski’s, Wakeboard, and the Tube. Here’s a video of Day one.

On day two, we awoke to the sound of rain dancing on the tin roof which I could have laid in bed and listened to for hours, especially since my body was not thanking me for the previous days activities. But instead, we hopped on some ATV’s and took a tour of the ranch property. Unfortunately I didn’t check my SD cards capacity before leaving and it was full before we got to the really fun rock climbing. After the ATV’s we canoed down the river boarding the ranch to a rope swing we had discovered during the previous year’s retreat. After swinging as many times as my body could handle, and watching Chad and Misty flip their canoe, we paddled back in to lunch waiting in the kitchen. Not a bad morning.

Overall, we had an amazing retreat with an abundance of  laughter, stories, games, and food. Oh man the food, I could write a blog just on the food. In addition to owning a boat, Molly proved meal after meal to be an amazing cook. Looking forward to another year with these extraordinary people!

Music Monday

Jess

I didn’t realize that I knew so many songs by Neon Trees until I listened to their album “Habits”. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite albums.

Sarah

You know how sometimes someone tells you to listen to an artist because they think you’d really love them, but you never actually get around to listening to said artist? This happened to me. Jess has listened to Joshua Radin for quite some time, but I only recently discovered his brilliance. His album “We Were Here” is incredible.

Cody

Melodic gang vocals, head bobbin’ guitars, and foot stompin’ choruses are just a few reasons that The Lumineers debut album has quickly become one of my top played albums.

Duncan

This is one of those albums that take you to another land. A new place of adventure and imagination. A place to create a story. I’ve been hooked since I first heard it. But you have to listen to it in it’s entirety.

This time last year we visited the Blue Dome Arts Festival in downtown Tulsa. We watched some bands, grabbed some food, and shopped around all the artist’s booths set up in the streets. One thing I didn’t do was think, “Next year, I’m going to have a booth here.” In fact, I didn’t even know that I would start Darby & Dash five months later.

But, here we are, one year later and we did set up at Blue Dome and I would first like to say; I have the best friends and family in the world! Let me explain.

I had a vision of what I wanted my booth to look like but unfortunately I do not have all the skills to complete it on my own. One of the ideas was a small bar height counter that would sit in the middle of the booth, but because I drive a Scion XB and not the stereotypical Oklahoman F150, the cabinet would also have to be collapsible for storage and transport. Duncan was up for the challenge, and after working many hours on his off days and before his scheduled shifts at his day job he delivered even better than I had imagined.

Jess has been helping me with all of the photography of the products from the beginning and the photos are too good not to use in a dominate way. So I envisioned a large banner that covered the entire back wall of the tent and smaller poster shots running down the sides. Luckily, my Grandpa runs A Better Sign Co. and was able to make all the foam board posters and the banner on a short deadline.

Even more bragging on how awesome my friends are, most of the models are all friends from our CityChurch community group.

The booth is almost complete with one major piece missing, something to hang the clothes on. You know, the whole reason for the booth. Duncan is back to work on this one, building all of the racks in two days. Now we are ready.

This is all just the weeks leading up to the festival. 6 AM Friday morning, Duncan and I head downtown and set up the booth which took us until 11 AM when people started showing up. At 1 PM, Duncan was replaced by Jess so he could go work a full shift at his day job. Sarah joined later to finish out the night after getting off. A 15 hour day to start the weekend.

This was the case for the entire three day festival, we all worked 12 to 15 hour days either at the festival or split with day jobs. Like I said, I have the best friends in the world. Over all, the festival was a huge success, we sold tons of product, made new connections, and the counter that Duncan built was so good he was hired by one of our booth neighbors to build her one. Plus, a huge thank you to all of our friends who came out to show support!

Sunday, after the festival closed and we spent a couple more hours tearing down, Duncan and I went out on a man date since the girls left us earlier in the day for a wedding. Perfect ending to a long and exhausting weekend.

We have been so incredibly busy lately.

We have not had the time or energy to blog.

Sad day.

Here is a quick recap of what we have been up to:

May 11, Cody and I shot the Wann Wedding. It was a beautiful night at Skelly Lodge. With Sarah’s help assisting and our new purchase of some HoldFast Gear, the night was a success.

May 18-20, Darby & Dash had a booth at Blue Dome Arts Festival. Cody and Duncan spent weeks leading up to the festival constructing the perfect booth. We all took our turns working the booth and by then end, we were all exhausted.

May 19 During the festival I had to leave early and drive out to Grand Lake. Our friends, Melissa Letney and Josh Woodward got engaged! I was lucky enough to be able to witness it and photograph it.

May 24 I surprised Duncan with a puppy. He has been wanting one so badly and we had decided to get one but he thought we needed to wait. Meet Henley

May 25-27, Duncan and Sarah’s sister, Jessica, graduated from her first year of Master Commission in Dallas. So we made a mini-vacation out of it and went shopping. We hit up our favorites IKEA, Urban Outfitters, H&M and the boys ate their way around town. We had much fun with the family all weekend.

Ikea Swedish Meatballs

So needless to say we have been busy. So we took to the lake yesterday to enjoy some down time. We will be blogging about these events in detail later.

When I am behind the camera, it feels as if I am watching the world from a glass room. I feel separated, nothing can hurt me. I experience the moment differently than if my camera was not there. It’s a different connection. Sometimes this is good thing, however it can also be bad.

Last Saturday CityChurch was working at Laura Dester Shelter, just one of the organizations partnered with LoveTulsa. The shelter is a short-term emergency care facility for use while child welfare specialists conduct investigations into alleged abuse and neglect and to hold children while staff look for suitable foster care placements for those coming into state custody. We cook out, have inflatables, face painting, crafts, and just have with the kids. When I arrived, it was in full swing, however I was quite distracted. I had an engagement shoot that evening I was worrying more about. I took the pictures and was about to leave when this little boy came up to me. He did not say a word and instead of posing in front of the camera as most kids did, he came beside me. He grabbed my camera while it was still around my neck and looked inside. He would “snap” a few, only using the wrong button. I would watch his finger and take a photo in sync with his movement. Then he smiled and ran off, never saying a word. This little boy was autistic. He returned several times. Though he never said anything, I knew how much he enjoyed it.

He made me be apart of the day. These kids come from horrible situations and finding so much joy in something so simple. Something I do daily and have started to take it for granted. Laura Dester is incredible place and I am so glad to have to chance to be a part of it, even if just for an afternoon.

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