Writing in the Margins

A few years ago, I found a song called “Writing in the Margins” by songwriter named John Gorka. I love the way that I am constantly challenged creatively when I hear it.  He sings:

I am writing in the margins
Notes to me and you
Cause the pages are all filled
With new orders coming through
I am writing in the margins
Notes to you and me
So maybe we’ll remember
The good that didn’t have to be

Every time I hear the song, I find that my mind moves through several different metaphors. I think about journeys through the Scriptures and how on some pages, the margins around the verses are completely filled. Each time I reread some passages, I find all these memorials that remind me of insights I have gained. Sometimes they have to do with particular things I was struggling with at that moment. I also think about my old journals. I do not journal as much as I used to. It is a hard habit to get back into when it falls out of the routine. I love to write and find that it makes me more creative and more healthy, and yet like flossing or any other habit, it takes a lot of discipline until the routine becomes set.

The bigger metaphor that comes to mind is more of a life habit of leaving margins. I imagine that time is one reason that I write less now than I used to. Charlie certainly keeps us busy. It is so much fun chasing him around when we are not teaching and carrying out other responsibilities with work at Sripatum University. We get more plugged in at church each week it seems, getting to know other families, helping out with music and the kids ministry.  Also, we are seeking to spend more time with families who are in difficult situations having fled to Bangkok as refugees seeking protection via the U.N. All of these things are great, but they push our story to the edge of the page a lot of days.

Books have margins so that there is space to write and process thoughts and reactions about what is occurring in the story we are reading. Likewise, I have found that it is a good practice to build margins around the stories that we are living. Margins provide rest and space for us to process and the ability to be flexible. When my life story pushes to the edges of the page, I feel I am literally on the edge a lot of the time. As the pages turn, I miss some things because my fingers cover over some of the story when they grip the page. In these cases, I might not realize that I am holding in my hands the realization or accomplishment of a dream or goal. All I can see is the busyness of each activity caving in on me.

John Gorka is writing notes and memories to himself and his friend, to help capture and process all of the good times that are happening. The pages are full of life stories. The plots that thicken and thin each day sometimes threaten the margins. These margins are a quiet place where thoughts and worries, visions and dreams can all settle down and support the story. As you settle in and find some extra margin this week, I hope that you find within the quiet, a voice that speaks truth about your story, and I hope that as you reflect and process, you will be able to see God at work. Jot down some notes so that you remember the good.

Now Playing

I know Spotify offers regular updates via facebook about music and what I have been listening to lately, but every so often, I like to mention the albums that are the currently getting a heavy rotation.  Here is the shortlist:

1.)  Jeff Bridges – Jeff Bridges – Yes he is generally more of an actor than musician but this record is a timeless collection of cowboy songs that I have really appreciated a lot.  It has actually had some positive effects on my songwriting too.  Stay tuned for more announcements to come.

2.)  John Mark McMillan – The Medicine – Sometimes we sing in a way that we are rehearsing the songs and occasionally we sing with reckless abandon as though we really believe it.  JMM leads me toward singing to God with reckless abandon.

3.)  Seryn – This Is Where We Are – I stumbled upon these guys recently and they keep jumping back into the queue.  Listening makes me feel like I am back on the water on top of a board out at Bolinas or Lindamar.

4.)  Morcheeba – Blood Like Lemonade – These guys chill me out.  I just love it.

5.)  Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings – Even The Darkness Will Not Be Dark To You… – This week, I revisited this one for the first time in a while.  This is such a dense record with so many layers of sound, of voice, of instrument, and of deep lyric and even deeper meaning.  There is something endearing about the honesty and freshness here.  It’s hard to explain, but worth the journey in attempting to capture it.

6.)  Griffin House – The Learner – Griffin House has been part of our soundtrack for life more than 6 years.  I love his writing and his passion.  The track Never Hide in particular is so beautiful and while a bit of a departure from his normal style, I find it inspiring and challenging as I think about songwriting and production on the songs that I have written but not yet recorded.

Runner Up Category

Josh GarrelsPearl Jam, Kanye West, John Mayer, Jonny Lang, and Brad Paisley

Everyday it’s a different flavor but that’s what keeps it fresh.  I hope you enjoy some of these.



Fab 5’s

If I was stuck on a desert island and had only 5 albums to choose from…

She Must and Shall Go FreeDerek Webb

All That You Can’t Leave BehindU2

The Beautiful LetdownSwitchfoot

Garden State Original Soundtrack

Behold the Lamb of GodAndrew Peterson

5 Favorite albums from the last year…

Kristene MuellerThose Who Dream

The Civil WarsBarton Hollow

Katie HerzigApple Tree

Griffin House Flying Upside Down

U2No Line on the Horizon

5 Albums I’m Listening to Right Now

The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

David GrayDraw the Line

Jacob FurrThe Only Road

Passion: Here For You


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