Why We Don’t Give

By | Faith, food, questions, world | No Comments

hands photo

After a brief talk I did about Food for the Hungry at my show this weekend, I had a really great conversation with a friend about the actual, real, possibility of ending poverty worldwide. It sounds absolutely impossible, absolutely daunting, and absolutely foolish to think that it’s possible. But it is.

I think sometimes we don’t give b/c we are afraid we will run out of money or that we won’t be able to take care of our own needs. But we live in a culture of wastefulness. We take more than we can finish, and waste more than we can afford to. We spend more than we have and we complain about not having the things we don’t need. Giving isn’t something we should do to make ourselves feel better or more generous. Giving should be a lifestyle. We should give because it comes naturally…not because someone guilt-tripped us with the photo of an exploited, starving, homeless kid sitting in the middle of dirt road. We should give because we have more than we need and because it would be absolutely silly to keep it for ourselves when we see others struggling. We should give because we’ve been given so much.

In my very short life, the one thing I have noticed is that the people who are most giving are the people who are always taken care of. They don’t trip over not having enough, don’t stress about running out, and are always willing to welcome others into the fold and share what they have, even if it’s not a lot. I am reminded of a verse in the Bible that says, ”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phillipians 2:3-4). Doing ‘nothing out of selfish ambition’ is a very tall order. In fact, the whole chapter is really challenging, and very counter-culture b/c in many ways, its more human to be selfish than to be giving. It’s more human to operate in survival mode – to wake up asking ourselves, ”ok, how can i make it through today without dying, or killing someone, or thinking about killing someone”. No one really wakes up saying, ”ok how do I make someone else happy? How do I help someone else make it through the day?” And if you do operate that way, most people think it’s a front…and sometimes it is. Because that type of thinking doesn’t come naturally…at least not to me.

So how does it become second nature? In a culture where our cups are perpetually overflowing, is it possible for a shift in mentality to take place? Because that is the real question. The question isn’t can we end world hunger or poverty as a whole. The question is: can we be less selfish?

Great Big World

By | children, food, touring, world | No Comments

This week I have been thinking a lot about the remaining 28 kids on my merch table. To be honest, I’m a goal-setter and I sometimes trivialize important things and make them all about achieving a goal…and I’ve been kind of doing that with my FH kids. Goal: get 5 kids sponsored on this tour. Current sponsorships: 1.

This week has been a long one. So far Ive played 8 shows in 8 days, traveled well over 1500 miles, and had so much to keep track of touring with a band while still trying to fill open dates in my August tour down south. Im feeling incredibly exhausted, a bit sleepy (its nearly 5am and I should probably just go to bed), but mostly discouraged. Discouraged because 290 people disappeared into thin air just 2 days ago – lost their lives…like they never even existed! Just gone. And I’m like WHAT??? How does that even happen? How is that even allowed to happen??? Who’s getting away with this kind of stuff!!? These questions, and the anger that comes with them, weigh me down.

I was sitting in the back of the Theater at our Creative Alliance show on Thursday (Baltimore) and LEA (incredible songwriter) was singing this song that almost made me cry like a baby. I think it was called Great Big World. She sang about how dark the world has gotten and how hopeless it can seem, and how easy it is to be distracted by all the sadness and evil; but how beautiful it is to look into the eyes of a child and see hope through their innocence. The song was so good…and on our drive from Baltimore to Central PA all I could think of was these kids! I’ve got 28 of them and to everyone (myself included sometimes) they are ’’just faces’’. There’s no personal attachment. We don’t know them, they don’t know us, they just sit on my table. And if no one sponsors them, then they don’t get sponsored. And if they don’t get help, they continue living in poverty. And because it’s a great big world, it ’’doesn’t really matter’’ to most of us because they’re so far away, it doesn’t directly affect us, and ’’we’ll never meet them anyhow’’…right? And so I have been very sad about this these past two days because 290 people being bombed out of the sky should never be allowed to happen. And children going hungry should actually be illegal! And we shouldn’t become so apathetic that we accept both and simply go on with our lives.

The Food for the Hungry station at my table doesn’t exist so that I can feel better about myself and convince myself that I am making the world a better place, It’s there so that, with the help of you all, the hundreds of people who come to shows every month, kids who are living in poverty can live in freedom. I believe there is nothing more dangerous in this world than a child with no hope left in their eyes…because that’s all we got!

If you want to sponsor a child, you can do that right here on my FH page: Sponsorship is $35 a month and that’s really not much. If you want to ask me question, please shoot me an email: [email protected]

In love,


#320 Work & Play

By | travel, world | No Comments

Tonight my sister and I had dinner with a friend who spends alot of time overseas – simply traveling to different countries, meeting new people, and making music. My dream of dreams! Over the last several months I have been looking at his daily postings of travel pictures and drooling over the prospect of being able to do something like this one day. And today, face to face, I finally asked him “What’s your secret! How do you do this!?  He told us that he spends an average of 2 1/2 years working and saving up all of his money, then he quits his job and travels for a year. And he’s repeated this process 3 times already!! 3 times! It’s absolutely genius and I sat there awestruck and completely jealous! He said something to the affect that people look at him like he’s foolish and ask him questions like, “What if you lose your position and can’t advance in your career?” or “What if you can’t find a job when you get back?”. They also tell him why he can’t do it or look at him like he’s irresponsible. But then other people get it and identify with the sentiment that life is not about your job or your lack of job. That life is meant to be experienced. And he also said that living like this has really helped him to grow a deep respect for the act of “work” and its ability to make “play” possible and more enjoyable.

As someone who does a significant amount of domestic traveling every year, extensive international traveling has always seemed a bit far-fetched. But talking to my friend tonight gets me excited and has given me a few things to think about.  Talk about someone who’s living a life of All-or-nothing! It’s the beauty of letting go and just experiencing the world freely!

#288 Slow Machete

By | music, travel, world | No Comments

Hey, it’s Music Friday!!!
This week’s artist is Slow Machete! Peace and I recently caught on to the awesomeness that is Slow Machete. Fronted by DC-based artist, and world-traveler Joseph Schaeffer, his music is truly original, unique…and pure. Many of Slow Machete’s songs are a pairing of aethereal instrumental tracks, his voice, and the voice of a Haitian girls Chorus taken from recordings of the girls of Cap Haitien Haiti. They live in one of the orphanages he and his friends work with through an organization they founded several years ago called, ESPWA.

I think one of the things I enjoy most about Slow Machete’s music is that it paints pictures. Most music, for me anyhow, carries with it a mood. And oftentimes when listening to music, I can see little narratives begin played out in my mind. But these songs often make me think of locations – countries, rural land, natural beauty. You’ll see what i mean with the above video.

You can also visit for more.

#284 Smile!

By | children, world | No Comments

Dear Friends,
Today’s post is simple. If you are buying anything….as in ANYTHING off this season, please begin your search through

.5% of your purchase will be donated directly to CURE International due to a holiday partnership with Amazon. CURE is one of my favorite organizations as they provide life-changing surgeries for sick children in several of the world’s developing countries. Your $$$ couldn’t be spent any better.  Actually it could: you could directly donate any amount to CURE via their website.

Thanks for reading :)


#270 Our Open Road

By | culture, travel, world | No Comments

Today on Facebook I asked if anyone knew how i could travel the world for free. I mentioned that it would be my goal for 2014. It was in part a joke of a status, but it is also a very real desire. I want to travel and experience the world – not as a tourist, but as a student – experiencing different cultures, meeting people, and being stretched out of my comfort zone.  Lo and behold someone sent me to to Our Open Road – a blog created by Adam and Emily Harteau and their cutie pie baby girl.

These guys are my heroes! I’ve spent alot of time on their site tonight reading about their adventures and living vicariously through them :)  They are doing what I would love to do with my life someday with a family. They’ve also got the coolest car on the face of the earth! Visit their website and/or read the NY Times story on them. The pictures are breathtaking.

Anyhow I thought I’d share a little piece of their story on my blog because they really give meaning to the phrase “all or nothing”. They are doin’ it!

made me think of Verse 3 in this song:


#259 I Want To Go To There!

By | all or nothing album, culture, Songs & Lyrics, world | No Comments

Last week I noticed my song Promised Land getting a number of hits. After doing a bit of research, I realized that the hits were coming from a video Vimeo featured as its pick of the week. It was created by MOOV. I was ecstatic and breath-taken when I saw this video b/c South America was exactly what I had in mind when writing the song. Please watch!

song licensed by The Music Bed | hear the full version of this song
See other videos with licensed songs from the new album: “#214 Marry Me



#258 Oh Lavender!

By | beauty, world | No Comments

I came across this picture on a friend’s profile today. It’s a farmer’s field of Lavender in Provence, France. I know it sounds silly, but pictures like this reassure me that God is real and not a figment of my imagination or born out of a desire to feel warm and fuzzy inside. To me there can be no other source of this kind of beauty. Can you image what it must smell like to be in this field? What it must feel like? Wow!


#247 Kakenya Ntaiya: CNN Hero!

By | people, world | No Comments

This was passed on to me by my roommate today! It is a compelling story that hits close to home as this girl went to school here in Pittsburgh!

Please vote for Kakenya Ntaiya to be CNN Hero this year!!!

She is an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and is passionate about empowering girls through education. A vote for Kakenya, is a vote to see the future of another school girl come true. Just click on the link and vote. It will take only 1 minutes. Thank you all for your support! Cheers!!!

As a tradition demanded, Kakenya had to go through the tradition of female genital mutilation required of all Masai girls in her village. She bargained with her father and leaders in her village to be allowed to go to college if she went through the process. Her dream came true and she completed both her undergraduate and doctoral degree in the US.

Today, Kakenya is one of the most powerful and inspiring people contributing to education in Africa. She has spoken at several local, national and international conferences. You can watch the video of her full story above!  Please VOTE and share with your friends. Thank you!

#209 How Do You Say That?

By | culture, language, Uncategorized, world | No Comments

I heard the most excellent segment on NPR today! It was about words that cannot be easily translated in other languages.  Words like…

Waldeinsamkeit (German): A feeling of solitude, being alone in the woods and a connectedness to nature.

Komorebi (Japanese) : This is the word the Japanese have for when sunlight filters through the trees — the interplay between the light and the leaves.

Jayus (Indonesian): Slang for someone who tells a joke so badly, that is so unfunny you cannot help but laugh out loud. :)

Something about this interview made me thing about music and its capacity to capture a feeling that you can’t quite describe in any other language. Here is the interview…

…and here is a song that to me produced a feeling that just cannot be translated.  Hands down it is one of my favorite instrumentals of all time!

What do you think?