Friday, August 30, 2013
OH, WHAT AN ADVENTURE!
10:22 am edt
It's been years in the making. A new album! And it's just about
to be released. :)
It all started back in 2005 as I was completing the writing phase for The
Journey Home. My sister-in-law, Stephanie, called to ask if I would consider writing a song for my brother Jim's promotion
ceremony to Lt. Col. I said: "I don't know, let me give it a try." In a week I had the song written. In
a month the demo was completed and incorporated into a video Steph made for the occasion. The song is called "Branches."
Production for the first album was well under way by this time, but the
songs kept coming, so I kept writing. In January of 2006, suffering my first ever bout of Post Holiday Blues, I
wrote "I wish I Were At Peace." Producing the demo for this song took the most amount of time because of my struggles
with writing the introduction. That "intro" stretched into a four-and-a-half minute orchestral number and appears on
the album as its own track: "Storm."
Ideas for songs kept flowing in, but between my regular life as a pastor
and production on the first album, I just didn't have the time to finish them. Then, between June and July of 2007,
I finished "Ballekarina," "I Can't Give My Heart to You," "The Dragon," "Invisible," and "Crownbearer." Wow! What
a creative flurry that was!
Then, in September of that year, my life changed. I had been writing
back and forth for over a year with a very nice lady 400 miles away named Liz. We met for the first time that September.
We were married in December! :) In Between that time I wrote my first song for her called: "The Way You Love Me" because
her love for me reminds me of God's love for me.
I moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, from Detroit, Michigan, in January of 2008.
That week - actually during the drive - I wrote "Hold On Tight," which kind of tells the story of how we met, fell in
love, and got married.
In June of the next year I got a call from a very pleasant man in Oklahoma
by the name of Allen Finch. He was representing a record label and they were interested in having me record a new album.
So, in July I signed a contract with Tate Music Group and began producing demos of the songs I had written so far. In
the process, I knew I'd need at least one more song to round out the set, and that song started to present itself every morning
as I sat down to breakfast with my bride. I started it on the drive home from visiting my new friends at Tate in Oklahoma
and finished it in October. It's called "Drinkin' Daisies." You'll have to listen to the song to see what that
title is all about. ;)
Somewhere around that time I made a new friend whose name is Sue.
Sue Dempster is the manager/agent for John Schlitt of Petra fame, and lives just down the road here in Wisconsin. She
came up to Green Bay to meet me and hear me sing at the Cup o' Joy Christian music venue, and she, Liz, and I went and ate
One of the first things we did together was to have John come and give a
concert at my church. Guess who got to open for him? ;)
Production for the second album began in December of 2010. And, as
usual, a new song for the project cropped up out of nowhere (actually, it was in the shower, but that's another story).
"Old Luggage," the last song to be included in the new project, was written in June of 2011.
There was one problem with "Old Luggage," however. Liz and I had started
a remodeling project at the house and my demo studio had been dismantled. What was I to do? Demos are my primary
means of communicating song ideas to the production team. Well, I did what a lot of artists do; I turned the arranging
duties over to my producer, Chet Chambers. I sent him a very basic piano/vocal demo and he took it from there.
Wait 'til you hear what he and the boys at the studio did!
Production on the new CD was completed in September of 2012. Over
the course of 21 months there were monthly trips to the studio, performances here and there, and other wonderful
experiences - such as recording with John Schlitt in RCA Studio A in Nashville, and recording with my big brother Dave on
two songs at Sweetwater in Fort Wayne. What fun!
In February of this year it was agreed that we should do a video of "Crownbearer"
with John. He shot his clips in New York, while Liz and I traveled down to Oklahoma to shoot on location. It was
a lot of fun! You can see the video here: http://t.co/Wp3UzfPPL7
In July I got to sing the song live with John at the Petra Fan Convention
in Indianapolis and made some great friends there, including my manager, Rob Pugh.
It's been a fun ride so far; I can't wait to see what God will do next.
Oh, and yeah, there are more songs in the works! :)
God bless your day!
Saturday, January 19, 2013
ODE TO A SHOWER
2:30 pm est
ODE TO A SHOWER
by Steven S. Billings
How oft have I despised you,
Thought you wretched in necessity,
Meager means for mundane motives,
Sanitary separation of self from soil,
Filth from flesh,
To make one more tolerable to himself
And his compatriots.
What measure of my life have I bequeathed thee?
A dozen minutes of the clock?
Ten if I could manage?
And with what temerity did I berate thee
For thine imbalance,
Now too hot, now too cold,
Never behaving as one might expect.
Ah, but today your glistening fingers
Cradled my head like a mother,
And I crawled into your lap and suckled the world away.
And you kissed away the aches and bruises,
You caressed my stressed limbs,
And I became one decompressed
From the pressures that beguiled me.
It may well be that upon the morrow
I shall once again curse my need of you
And the imposition you impress upon my day.
But for now, for this time, I shall praise thee,
Thou fountainhead of glory,
And extol upon thy virtues
To all the world.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
ANNIVERSARY ADVENTURE 2012
12:29 am est
We were on our way to Liz's parents' to celebrate her birthday and were
about two blocks from their house when we hit some VERY slippery road and soft-landed in a shallow ditch. If we'd had
ANY traction at all, we probably could have driven out of it, but not that day. In about half an hour, however, we were
free of it. Thank you, AAA!
Later, we stayed overnight at the Dobranoc Inn in Fond du Lac - a big, beautiful Bed & Breakfast. It was a delightful outing to celebrate five years together.
I love you, my beautiful bride!!
Monday, December 3, 2012
THE INADEQUACY OF "PROOF"
12:56 pm est
It has occurred to me (again) recently that logical argumentation for the
truth of the Christian faith and its attendant claims really only works on those who already have saving faith in Jesus.
It seems like every time I see a Christian come up with what he believes to be an "iron-clad" proof
of - you name it - Creation v. Evolution, the historical truth of the New Testament, or the factual basis of the Resurrection
- some unbeliever tears it appart with his own version of the "truth."
It appears to me that no mountain of evidence will ever convince those who are blinded by unbelief.
I am convinced more than ever that it takes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for a person to give assent to the claims of
Scripture, regardless of the particular claim being discussed.
This must be part of the reason why Jesus sent His disciples out, not to argue and debate, but to
proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. There is something about the Holy Spirit working through the Word of
God that influences hearts and minds far beyond the wisdom and eloquence of man.
This is not to say that Christians should neglect the facts supporting our biblical belief.
Those on whom the Spirit is working may have questions even though the Spirit has begun His work in them. Removing barriers
to faith is a worthy endeavor.
But this is a good reminder, I think, that conversion of the heart is God's work, not ours, and that
when somone comes to faith in Jesus, that is a miracle wrought before our very eyes.
Let's not be discouraged, then, when the gainsayers rail against us, but rather continue to proclaim
boldly the truth we know and let God use His Word from our lips to create and strengthen faith as He wills.
Monday, November 5, 2012
FILL, SAND, PAINT, REPEAT
4:50 pm est
For several weeks now I've spent a good deal of my time off doing the above.
We pre-painted our wood trim before it was installed, thank heaven!! But the job since then has been to fill all the
nail holes (there were about 400 of them!), sand, and touch up the paint. Spackling the main bedroom is done and it's
about 3/4 painted. The second room is about 3/4 spackled. I've barely touched the studio room. Pretty soon
we hope to order carpeting and start moving our stuff back in. I can't wait to get my studio up and running again; I've
got songs to work on. :)
Thursday, October 25, 2012
4:02 pm edt
I can't wait for this election cycle to be over with. I mean, I've
known who I was going to vote for since the primaries were over.
Perhaps part of the problem is living in Wisconsin where we had to undergo
a recall election for our governor.
And maybe the problem is the overwhelming number of phone calls we get trying
to sway our opinion. And it's not even satisfying to pick up the phone. You can't yell at them to stop because
you don't actually talk to a live human being; all you get is a recording.
But I also think it has something to do with the fact that it seems like
we're always getting ready for some election. As soon as one is past, we start seeing ads and getting calls for the
next one. I'm tired of the whole mess and I just wish it would go away.
And to add to my angst the majority of the ads I've been hearing have been
so over the top it's ridiculous. They might as well say: "If Candidate X wins, he'll come to your house and shoot you.
Your dog, too."
I know who I want. I know who I don't want. And I know why.
Can we just vote and get on with the rest of life now?
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
A NEAT RETREAT
8:06 am edt
This past weekend we took our Confirmation kids on retreat to Camp LuWiSoMo. It had been a couple of years since we were there, due to the fact that the camp was going through some changes and
was not running retreats during that time. My dear friend Mike Stapleton and his wife Barbara are now running the camp,
and, might I say, doing a fantastic job! The kids all had a great time, learned a lot, and got to meet Lutherans of
their own age from various places around the state. Thank You, Lord, for a great retreat! And thank, you,
Mike and Barb!
THE URGE TO BLOG
12:21 am edt
I know Facebook has its "Notes" section, and I'll probably keep posting
there from time to time, but there's something about maintaining this record of my life that continues to intrigue me. I've
looked back over the past six years and have smiled, cried, remembered a lot of pain and reminisced about the relief God sent.
My wife got to know me through this blog. I first announced our mutual discovery through this blog. So, I guess what I'm saying
is ... I'm thinking I'm gonna continue to do both. Pictures, etc., will probably go to Facebook, but the deeper thoughts will
come here. I hope someone finds them helpful, but mostly, they help me set up mile markers of my life so that I can see where
I've been and how far I've come.
Monday, May 2, 2011
FIND ME ON FACEBOOK
10:06 am edt
BEEN A LONG TIME ...
Hello, folks! Yes, it's been a long time since I posted to this blog. I had almost forgotten this blog, to tell you the
10:03 am edt
I was reminded of it today as I reflected - in light of yesterday's announcement of the killing of Osama Bin Laden - on what
I had written over four years ago regarding the execution of Saddam Hussein. Both deaths are sad - not because evil men have
been slain, but because they had to be.
Evil men must always be dealt with, but far better if they could be brought to faith in Christ - far better for the world,
far better for them.
Hell is a little fuller today. And all of heaven weeps. Shame on us for throwing a party.