Well, it has been an interesting year to say the least. You would think that just because you’re cooped up inside the house most of the time that life would be quite uneventful. And to some degree it was. But when you’re a musician, it actually becomes a happy excuse to be creative and more productive. So I was able to write and record a whole record just because I had more time on my hands this past few months. And of course, I called the record “Rockdown” for obvious reasons. Hope you like it.
There is a Better Way
There have been quite a few conversations going around lately in my circle of influence. It’s an unpleasant one but of great significance, I believe. And here’s my take on it.
You see, I’d much rather a potential issue be nipped in the bud than wait for it to develop, only to slap a band-aid on it later on.
In my opinion, abortion is not right. It’s not any worse than divorce, really. They’re all sinful acts from my personal point of view. But they’re also not the root of the problem, I don’t think. Abortion, to me, is the cost being paid by the ones who did not necessarily make the wrong choices to begin with.
Unfortunately, the lack of influence on society to steer itself away from trouble early on leads to unnecessary regrets. We all need a foundation to stand on. Yet, where we fixate that foundation for the ones we care about will largely determine the course of their life.
Home! In the home is where kids should be cemented with the fundamentals. You know: Morality. Decency. Respect. Obedience. They need to have experienced these elemental ideologies as they hit school age. Otherwise, the seed of the problem will have been planted by then. And it usually goes downhill from there.
For instance, when kids who grow up witnessing their mom and dad disrespecting, distrusting and hurting each other, it robs them of opportunities to learn what love is and what powers it can unleash in their lives. Sooner or later, forgiveness can become just a foreign concept. Caring and selflessness may be reduced to being more of an abstract notion rather than actual moral convictions. Gentleness, humility, those could be thrown out the door, as well.
And when they eventually enter school and begin to develop relationships, and they grow up together through the years – guess what kind of influence they’ll have on each other? And in the world around them? Well, heck! Just think about the kind of conversation they’ll have one day during lunch break?
… “Hey, I got knocked up! I don’t know what to do.”
There are other examples but I’ll leave it to your imagination.
So, yeah, you have that. But you also have the choice to shove your beliefs down people’s throats and waive compassion. You have the choice to fly your flag of self-righteous indignation on people’s unfortunate circumstances. To take their freedom away and chain them for asking for something quite atrocious.
Such as an abortion.
Black Lives Matter
It is impossible to feel someone else’s pain unless we went through the same experience. We can empathize but we can never feel the same pain.
One day years ago, I was hanging out with a good friend of mine. He’s black. We were in the middle of a conversation, and out of nowhere, he said to me that I was lucky because I wasn’t black. He said this in reference to the fact that I was dating a white woman at the time.
Back in those days, I was almost oblivious to racism as I’ve always lived my life in a bubble of “all nations” where color does not exist. At least in my mind, it didn’t.
I have to admit that I was baffled by what he said, yet I kept quiet and didn’t ask him what he meant.
Today, what my friend said to me back then has now become very clear.
The pain is real. And I learned my lesson.
I live in beautiful Wyoming and am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the community here.
I have lived most of my life in metro cities where everything you need is right down the street. Here in Wyoming, you have to adhere to a lifestyle that gives you less options. The payout, however, is that your life is greatly simplified. And the perks… come on!!! Peace and quiet. Less stress. And the air you breath is actually more than the price of admission.
And besides the stunning views right from your own backyard, I think what’s really unbeatable is the lack of traffic. Having been a city slicker most of my life, I can’t emphasize enough how transforming that is to anyone who’s used to the daily hustle and bustle.
Anyway, what I really meant to write about is that being a musician and songwriter, I find myself writing about anything and everything but the beautiful state I belong to. One day, I just thought, I should write about Wyoming. Maybe from a point of view of someone who’s not a native but has come to love it enough to make it his home.
So here it is. My own take on the place I call home. Wy Oming. Hope you enjoy it.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re so inclined, help me collect some royalties. Follow me on Spotify and/or buy the song/album on iTunes. Thanks much!
Like Father Like Son
On May 26th, it will have been my dad’s 84th birthday.
Time. Wow! Time can be so merciless. I can still vividly remember him taking me to the barber. And I hated it every time! Perhaps, I’ve always wanted my hair long.
I realize how undeserving of God’s kindness I am. He’s been so good to me all my life. And I am complete today because of him.
Yet, if there was one regret I have in life, it would be that I failed to forge a meaningful relationship with my earthly father. A dreadful iniquity on my part. And the aftermath will no doubt continue to weigh on me for as long as I live.
This song I wrote is not so much a tribute as it is a confession. A longing. A moment in sackcloth and ashes, if you will. It was a difficult one to write, for sure.
I wish I could tell my dad, for both the first and last time, that I love him. Because I truly did! But it’s a bit too late now, isn’t it? I was given countless chances and I blew them all.
Indeed, time’s up.
A new album to close 2018
Man, did I start late on this but I just finished a body of musical work for this year. Work I should’ve started in the spring at the latest. I could’ve been done around summertime if I did.
Anyway, I still managed to come up with 8 brand new songs in a matter of 2 months! That’s a rarity for me nowadays. Plus I also reprised (did a remake of) 3 of my old songs from around 20 years ago! I performed these on a recent Wyoming Singer-Songwriter competition and thought the arrangement needed a makeover. For one, I could no longer hit the high notes like I used to back then so I had to sing them on a different key now. And play them on different instruments, as well!
So, 11 songs recorded this year! Not too shabby for having just started this project in September. I have not had that many songs recorded in a year since 2005! Or 2004, if we’re talking original songs!
As always, the album is quite varied in style. It’s the most diverse album I’ve ever made, actually! It’s called Ghost Notes. Check it out. I hope you like it.
Good Sam – Friend or Foe?
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:36-37
It’s a classic, yes? Most people are presumably familiar with the story.
But what I’d like to briefly contemplate on is a view of this particular parable from an angle which I believe is quite easy to overlook. I know it is, for me.
When Jesus told of this venerated tale, he made a case for all believers to pursue. He established a standard of righteousness through the likeness of a particular individual. He carved a hero out of someone whom the Old Testament-era Judeans considered not only a cultic half-breed but a downright outcast, as well. Or, a despised enemy, even.
One might not realize it but in many levels, we, in today’s society, are no different at all. We desire to be heroes. We long to be inspired. However, we naturally look up to the usual suspects, don’t we? Our examples typically come from the ones that we’re able to relate to easily – our friends, our family or perhaps, even revered celebrities. But when do we ever seek inspiration from the ones we might consider outcasts or, quote-unquote, enemies?
Think about it. It’s an issue of relate-ability. A matter of familiarity and comfort zones. It’s subtle but yet quite obvious, really. It can be about race, status or beliefs. It’s our perception of others. Our cliques. Our prejudices. The things we don’t enjoy talking about – because we are fearful of the subject matter and have nothing explicit to say about it. Unaware, we create invisible schisms, chasms and walls amongst each other. It’s a heinous misdeed and I certainly admit my own guilt!
How compelling it truly is to behold Jesus’ upside-down ideology and how it instinctively goes against the grain of our fleshly perspectives and leanings! Surely, I am in constant awe!
There is something astonishing and miraculous when we elect to pry our eyes open and witness the unexpected. The good within the perceived bad. Yes! To befriend a sinner; to plant a tiny seed of faith; to love as much as we’ve been forgiven; to knock in perseverance on God’s door; to find treasure in the unseen.
Or yet, to simply be a good neighbor, just like Sam. Good Sam. It’s a great place to start, if you ask me.
Meat or Manna
“If only we had meat to eat! … But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” ~Numbers 11:4,6
Discontentment. Ingratitude. If we’re truly honest, we’ll admit we all have these in us to some degree. They can be elusive, invisible or incognito even. A bit hard to spot at times. I don’t know about you but I struggle against it just about everyday. Even when I try not to show it, I can be a grouch deep inside.
Sometimes, our choice between meat or manna can be a matter of life and death. It’s a tough battle. Choose wisely.
@2002 Chris Alma Jose
Tomorrow, you little stinker you!
This popped up on my phone early this morning…
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34
Happy Monday. Here’s your Verse of the Day. Eat up!
Okay, so I’ve probably nibbled on this little breakfast nugget more times than I can remember. It’s one of the most lionized passages in scripture and intrinsically embedded in my subconscious. Well, I hope so anyway.
But you know how it goes: Just because you’ve read something once doesn’t mean you’ve wrung out every possible ounce of flavor from it.
Well, a few moments after I’ve taken a quick and superficial gander at my phone, I couldn’t shake off a feeling that I might’ve missed something vital. Something that had been hiding in plain sight all this time! So I stopped what I was doing and sat for a moment. I read the verse a second time.
And a third.
Hmmm… possibly a couple more. But what I ultimately saw blew me away.
Tomorrow will worry…
Did you get that? Tomorrow will worry. Not me. Tomorrow will.
Worrying is not my business. Not my monkey, not my circus! Nope!
Whew! What a relief! Right?
Wait… easier said than done, you say? Yep, I thought the same. I hear you, my friend. But let’s read on…
It says: Tomorrow will worry… about itself.
Now, is it just me or is tomorrow being portrayed here as a bit ambiguous and problematic? Kind of a nutcase, if you will?
Think about it. It doesn’t say that tomorrow will solve any of my problems. It doesn’t say that it will resolve anything at all or that it will eventually sort itself out. It only says that it’ll worry about itself!
The funny thing is that tomorrow never really comes. It never arrives, does it? When you think tomorrow’s here, it’s already moved on.
Okay, so if tomorrow is indeed ambiguous and problematic, then am I not crazy to even worry about it, to begin with?
This is what I gather from all this: Jesus is saying not to worry because if you believe in him, the cares of tomorrow gets deleted from the equation and hope takes its place. As far as time is concerned, we are already there. Through hope, we are where we belong. In Him.
And that, I believe, is nothing to worry about.