Giveaway x 3!!!

 If you don't read the Big Mama blog, you need to.  BigMama writes short, daily essays/stories that are absolutely hilarious.  I seriously often laugh out loud & then read them out loud to my husband.  I heard Melanie speak/emcee at the Dot Mom conference last February & highly recommended her to my mom who is in charge of a local church's women's ministry as a potential speaker for a chocolate and speaker night at their church.  I was so so so excited when Melanie said YES!  So she is coming!!  Tomorrow!

Then, I suggested to my mom & her committee that my dear friend, Caroline Cobb Smith, do the music for the event.  Caroline is a very gifted song writer & singer and her latest album topped the itunes chart at #6 on it's release day!  Caroline said yes!

So even though we don't attend this particular church I am totally taking credit for "talent hook up!"

So - today I have a HUGE giveaway!  Keep reading to learn how you can win one of three items!

Recently, I interviewed Caroline Cobb Smith about her album, her writing process, & how the heck she manages to do it while mothering & wifing... she was gracious enough to clue me in ... & as is typical in our friendship - she convicted me too with a few of her points about following God's calling.

When did you start writing songs?
I started writing songs in late high school. Actually, the story is kind of a funny one... I went out on a date with a boy and he played me a song that he had written during our date.  My mom had recently taught me a few chords on the guitar, and I thought “Hey, I could do that!”.  After that date, I started writing songs. They weren’t great at first, but I wasn’t worried about that.  I was totally doing it for fun.  I would play for my mom and dad, and later for my college roommates.  I wrote for about four years before I started performing.

2.  You set a goal to write a song for every book of the Bible by the time you turned 30.  You also have a husband and at the time, one child under age 2.  In the process of creating the album, you became pregnant with #2 & birthed him.  Needless to say, you've been busy.  As a full time mom and wife, how in the world did you find time to accomplish your goal while also remembering to feed your people and shower and maintain friendships and live life?
You know, I’m honestly not sure how it all happened! It’s been a crazy few years, but they have been meaningful and fulfilling ones.  During my year of writing from the Bible, I had my little girl in Mother’s Day Out one day a week for a few hours.  I remember I would drop her off and rush home and get to work on a song. On other days, I would write during naps or after she went down. Now that I have two, it’s a bit tougher to find the time to write and work on music, but we are finding a rhythm. My husband has been incredibly supportive and understanding, taking the kids while I recorded in the studio and helping me in so many other ways. Family and friends have also helped along the way. It’s definitely been a team effort!  I am just taking the small steps in front of me that I know to do, trying to keep my family the main priority, while still stewarding this gift of songwriting as well as I can. To be honest, my house is always a little bit messy, my bathtubs aren’t cleaned as often as they should be, I don’t really cook amazing meals (my poor husband), my toes go unpainted and I go way too long without a haircut.  But that’s ok. Relationships with God, family, and friends come first, music comes second, and every now and then I clean a toilet.
3.  What was your favorite book to write a song for and why?That is a great question. I really enjoyed writing from the Old Testament - particularly the prophets.  There is such rich imagery already built into those books, and I really had fun trying to translate that imagery into a song.  “Dry Bones” on the album is a good example. I tried to imagine what Ezekiel must have been feeling and seeing as he looked upon the valley of dry bones and saw death and decay go in reverse at a mere word from God (Ezekiel 37).  

4.  What book was the hardest to write about?  Why?
Some of letters that Paul wrote were harder to write from, simply because they are more straightforward and didn’t use as many word pictures or as much imagery.  

5.  Any advice for moms who have a dream and don't know how to make their dream happen?
This is a tough question because, in many ways, being a mom is equal to laying down your life for another and prioritizing their needs even at the expense of your own. And it is a good thing. I never want to grow bitter toward my kids because I can’t “follow my dreams” to the fullest extent and music has to live in the margins.  Even more, I never want to make a mom who is “just” staying at home with her kids feel small because she doesn’t have a side business or an Etsy shop or an uber-popular blog.  I think God puts great, great value on the in-the-trenches, diaper-changing moments of our lives, where we moms are serving in unseen and far-from-glamorous ways.  So, I’m cautious when it comes to questions about following our dreams. In some seasons, God may even ask us to lay our dreams down completely.  And that’s ok.  That said, I do think there are times when God would ask us to somehow do both.... to steward a gifting or follow a specific call and to prioritize our amazing calling to be a mom. A few years ago, I felt God urging me to do more with music, to make it a part of the rhythm of my life rather than just a now-and-then hobby.  I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but I can see looking back that God was preparing me for all that has happened in the past year or so.  At the time, I hashed it out with my husband and we had some great conversations. He knows my heart behind it all, and my desire to keep our family first, and he has been behind me 100%, which has been invaluable.  If you feel like God is calling you to follow a dream and your husband is behind you, then the next step is just to do the small things.  What is right in front of you to do?  What is most important for you to do?  What should you do right now and what do you think you’d like to be doing a year from now?  Make attainable goals, and figure out a way to accomplish them.  Again, prioritize what is important and don’t get bogged down by what feels urgent but is not really important.  With music, it’s easy to get bogged down with keeping up a website, or publicity, or other business-y things.  But, as a mom with limited time, I can’t do all of those things perfectly.  I need to spend more time writing, playing, and telling the Story through these songs.  That needs to be the priority, because that’s what I feel He is calling me to do: to serve others with these songs.

6.  Can you describe your songwriting process for those of us who know nothing about music but happen to enjoy listening to it?
Sure!  In general, I write lyrics and melody at the same time.  Before I sit down with my guitar, I do have an idea of what I’d like to write about. A lot of times, it’s what I’ve been thinking about or reading or journaling about, so I have a few thoughts and conclusions to start with.  When I am writing from a specific passage of scripture, I’ll usually read and study the passage for a while, or even for a few days before.  I’ll sit down to write after I have an idea of the bigger context of the passage and what the main idea of that passage might be. I really try to put myself in the shoes of the writer of the passage, or the main character in the story.  I try to use words that make sense to us today and I love to use metaphor or imagery that would help draw out a truth.  Melody serves the lyrics and the main idea of the song.  Melody is much more difficult for me to nail down, because you have to be sure it is new and unique, but still catchy.

7.  Did you actually read each book (of the Bible) entirely before you wrote about it?  Or did you sometimes skim or go by memory?
A little bit of both.  Many of the shorter books I would read all the way through.  When I was writing the songs from the Old Testament, I was also going through a Bible study called The Amazing Collection with our church.  In that Bible Study, you study a new book of the Bible each week.  So, that was very helpful!  Whether I read the whole book or not, I would always make sure to have an understanding of the context and main themes of the book and passage from which I was writing. I would usually read through the introduction to a book in my ESV Study Bible, and that was very helpful.  

8.   The imagery in your songs is very vivid.  It has certainly captured the imaginations of my children.  What is your vision for how your music will minister to others?  
My hope and prayer is that this album would help people engage with the truths of scripture and the gospel story - the story of our redemption through Jesus’ death and resurrection - in a fresh way. I want these songs to remind them that their story is part of His greater Story, and that nothing in their lives is beyond redemption. After listening to these songs, I hope people will want to dig back into their Bibles and rediscover and re-engage with old, life-giving truths.  And, most of all, I pray that people will somehow encounter the Author, God Himself, through this album.

**I feel I must share a recent text I sent Caroline after I caught my children re-enacting the first Passover based on the imagery in her song.

Her album has prompted some great discussions with my children about various events in scripture which has been really fun!

9.  This album is especially unique because there is an accompanying devotional book to go along with the songs.  Can you describe the process you went through to write that? 
The devotional book is something that I pray people would use to experience the Story on a deeper, “heart” level.  Each song from the album comes from a specific passage of scripture, and each passage has a devotional, a song story, lyrics, scripture references, and a work of art to accompany it.  I asked different friends who are currently in full-time devotional ministry to write the devotionals.  These friends have all played important role in my life at different points in the past ten years, and they live all over the US and even overseas (Boston, LA, Texas, China). They are missionaries and pastors from all different denominations. The artists are also from all over the US, and their work is incredible.  I don’t know them all personally, so it is a blessing that they gave me permission to use their work.  

10.  Do you have a personal favorite song on the album?
I think it changes.  I worked so hard on every, single song on the album and I feel like each song is strong enough to stand alone. That doesn’t always happen with a full-length album, so I’m really, really proud of it.  Right now, I guess I’d have to say that “Wake Up” is my favorite song.  It’s a song from 1 Corinthians 15, and it urges us to wake up and live as if we really believe the resurrection is true.  Paul says that if it is not true, then we are crazy to live by “Christian morals” and crazy to play church.  We should eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!  But, if it is true.... then it should change everything.  Everything.  Everything should be saturated with purpose, mission, and hope... taking care of our kids, cleaning a toilet, cooking dinner, going to work.

12.  Obviously, to create this album, you had to find a lot of time to be in God's Word and to creatively express His word & your heart... any advice for us moms in the trenches - who want to be creative or express ourselves and dig in the Word but may feel tired or overwhelmed by life?  
 don’t know that I can give great advice here, because I feel like I’ve struggled with finding good time lately to spend with the Lord, especially with two kids.  In the morning, it is oh-so-hard to get up early, and in the evening after the kids go down, I’m pretty much ready to go down too!  But, my goal and hope is to wake up early and be with God in the morning, before the kids wake up.  My husband and I are trying to help each other do that.  It also helps to have the accountability of a Bible Study, or a book like Face to Face by Kenneth Boa that gives us some structure.  In college, I used to be able to go to a coffeeshop, sit down, and journal and read as long as I wanted to.  It was uninterrupted, sweet time and I could drink my coffee while it was still nice and hot.  These days, there are constant interruptions, there are more pressure-cooker situations.  In college, I was learning in theory.  But, this - this mom thing - this is reality. This is where our faith and all the theories we had when we were young Christians with all the time in the world get tested.  Like you said, we are in the trenches of the war.  Our prayers and our readings should have an urgency because how we react to our kid that is throwing a fit really matters.  I think it is important for us to remember that our time with the Lord in this season of life is going to be different.  It is much more moment-by-moment, a rapid-fire prayer from the trenches when we feel overwhelmed, a quick confession when we’ve lost our temper.  We are ever leaning deeper into God’s grace and love, because we realize how much we need it. And we are going to have to reheat our coffee in the microwave a billion times too.  

12.  Caroline!  Your album made it to #6 on Itunes on the cd release day!!  And it stayed in the top 10 for several days!  What was your very first thought upon seeing that?  (As your friends- we sure had fun watching it climb the charts!!)Well, it was steadily climbing throughout the day, but every time it got higher - especially when it broke the top ten - I just felt so humbled and overwhelmed and really, really excited!  It was so hard to believe.  There is a verse in the Bible that talks about the “weak things of the world” shaming the wise.  It’s just amazing that God would use me - an unseen mom that struggles with a temper with her kids and has no seminary degree and has hardly ever taken a voice lesson or a guitar lesson - to be a vehicle for this Story and these songs, and that people would really, really like it. It’s crazy.

14.    What's next?
Again, I’m just trying my best to take the small steps right in front of me.  I’d love to continue playing shows in churches and houses. I’d love to put a few tours together outside of Texas. I love playing shows because I am able to use these songs to tell the Story of redemption in scripture.  I usually talk between each song, trying to connect the dots for people and help them see the Story move forward.  I’d also love to write more songs about my experience of being a mom, as a way to encourage other moms of other young kids.    

Now for the GIVEAWAYS!!!
I am giving away:

1. an autographed copy of Melanie's new book -- Sparkly Green Earrings - a really funny memoir on parenting & a quick read

Also - go read her blog.  You will laugh out loud.  

2.  The Blood + The Breath - Caroline's newest hit album - also autographed!

***FYI- my kids' favorite song is most definitely "Dry Bones"  They both sing it AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS... & my 5 year old can now recount the story of Ezekiel and the bones coming back to life.  Pretty cool.  My favorites are "All the Stars" & "Passover Song"

Check her out on itunes.

3.  one ticket to tomorrow night's event in downtown Tyler featuring both Melanie & Caroline starting at 7pm!

It's simple - I promise.  I don't do facebook so you don't have to "like" anything (what does that even mean anyway??)  Just leave a comment below & I'll draw  random people to receive one item each!  You can comment about your own dream or what book you are reading at the pool or what your favorite ice cream flavor is - whatever works.
***If you are LOCAL & want a chance to win the ticket for tomorrow's event featuring Melanie (Bigmama!) & Caroline - please leave a comment stating that you are local!  Or you know, you don't have to be local - but if you are able to actually come to the event leave a comment letting me know you want the ticket!  I'll draw a random winner for that as well.   

I'm not very good at math but I'm pretty sure this is a good deal.  Three possible winners - only a few people comment here very often... the odds are good you could be a winner! :)

I will close comments around 4pm tomorrow!  (Tuesday!) I will then email winners.  

ok then.  On your mark, get set, go!

**Caroline's cd artwork image & picture sourced from www.carolinecobb.com
***COMMENTS NOW CLOSED!*****  Winners will be announced tonight... or tomorrow morning  & I'll get your books/cds mailed asap! 

7 thoughts:

teecobb said...

I can always use a good laugh so I would love the book and sounds like Jack might enjoy the music cd if your kids do.....can't make the event....blessings fellow sojourner.

Christie Minich said...

How fun! I'm in! :)

Danielle said...

I'm not a local, but would love to win the book or cd!
I really liked when Caroline said, "being a mom is equal to laying down your life for another and prioritizing their needs even at the expense of your own." That really squeezed my heart! :)

Annette Honeycutt said...

Did my comment make it to you? Something happened to my phone! Ugh!
I'm in for the book/ and the CD for sure!!!!

Cozy H said...

Such a cool interview, I love playing guitar and it was cool to read about Caroline's music. I'm a long time reader and I've never commented before, not local either, but would love to win the book or cd

Beth said...

Love Melanie's blog and would love to win her book - OR your friends CD! I love reading about your family! Jealous that I'm "not local" for this!

Beth Timmerman (Shelby's wife -- good friends of Charlie & Shae) :)

Beth said...

Love Melanie's blog and would love to win her book - OR your friends CD! I love reading about you and your family - thanks for being so open and honest! I'm jealous I'm "not local" for the other part of the giveaway, I would love to hear her speak!

~Beth Timmerman (Shelby's wife, good friends of Charlie & Shae)

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