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A Free Give-Away and Making Music for Good

Monday, December 2nd, 2013


While growing up I loved music. I sang along with every album and cassette. I collected new and interesting artists. I was the master of the mix tape. I followed new artists, classic artists, alternative and punk bands. My first album was Billy Joel Glass Houses (I still have it) and my first CD was (bizarrely) Bing Crosby’s Christmas album. Yet I loved theater and I sat in front of the record player (yes, vinyl) reading and singing along to Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Oklahoma, South Pacific. 

The first concert I attended was Amy Grant Straight Ahead tour. The concert was at The Odeum in Villa Park, IL. I was in eighth grade and I knew every word to every song and sang along at the top of my lungs. I was *that* girl who loved all the new Christian rock becoming popular in the 1980′s.

This past year has been a blur of activity with family and life yet in the midst of it all an album of praise, thanks, journey, and honesty has emerged. A quiet, life-long desire to create music became a reality. It was slow and easy. Writing songs with a friend and recording at a studio tucked in the heart of my home town. There was much grace and humor. It was a uniquely creative process and I recieved the *cool* experience of being an Independent Artist.


I am deeply indebted to my friend and co-producer, Bill Acuna. Bill is the co-author, guitarist, musician, and artistic mind behind the album. We collaborated on lyrics and melody and then Bill masterfully created each song, building the arrangement and creating the layers of art.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to author two books and a third forthcoming with Intervarsity Press. I have been able to publish books about what burns in my heart — educating myself and others about injustices in the world and what the everyday person can do to make a difference.

This year Bill and friends enabled me to create music that is inspired by these same things — what burns in my heart, my faith, and my work in justices causes such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic is sub-Saharan Africa and the atrocity of modern-day slavery. I believe we all can make a difference in the world no matter who we are or where we are and I write song to inspire change.

I know the challenge of managing a home and the desire to make a difference for those who are suffering. As a full-time mother of three, I have journeyed from insular suburban world into the arena of global advocacy, writing books and making music. Using the power of story, I hope my music inspires people everywhere to start right where they are and make a difference.

This is a simple album and from the heart. The collection of 12 original songs cover topics ranging from family, God, dreams, broken hearts, doubt, faith and thanksgiving. Enjoy!

GIVE AWAY: Leave a comment below on the blog or inbox me on Facebook to enter a drawing for a free CD. Thanks for reading and listening. Together we make a difference!



Writing With a Broken Heart

Monday, August 5th, 2013


“God loves YOU!” The large purple billboard seemed to yell at me as I drove past. An unexpected addition to the Northwoods roadside. Normally, I might have smiled or ignored it entirely but today the radio also seemed to be trying to get my attention with this simple yet often unfathomable imperative: God loves you.

I teared up and thanked God making a mental note to add this experience to my chapter entitled “Signposts.” Sometimes God is mysterious, silent and seems hidden and sometimes He is literal and in our faces — if we are looking.

The past few weeks I have been tucked away at our cabin in the Northwoods with the intention of working on the manuscript for my third book. I have organized it. Reorganized it. Read the already written chapters over and over and I have yet to add one new word to the book. I feel paralyzed. Not from writer’s block or fear or busyness (I truly have nothing to do here but the chores I create to do).

What surfaced while receiving God’s love driving alone through the deep woods — I am paralyzed by a broken heart.

This year our family has taken many hits. We can’t seem to get to safe harbor, the wide-open spaces of calm with no crisis or conflict. I’m not a young woman. I know life is hard for everyone. I’ve seen what life is like for women and children in unthinkable poverty and disease, abuse and oppression. I am no stranger to life on life’s terms. I understand storms will violently hit and we must weather them. I know these storms do not last forever. There are still waters ahead. Yet even while nestled in the woods next to a calm lake the roar of life’s stresses seems unrelenting. In my husband’s and my life, and in our children’s. We are thankful we have each other and we know under it all, all things pass, that in Him all things are made new.

Yet we are only human and sometimes, if not our faith, our resilience in faith, is challenged. We are not quite there and we are still on the journey — climbing the mountain, fighting the Orks, having boulders thrown at us, getting lost while darkness and storms threaten us and those we love. We’ve lost trusted friends and journeymen. Pain, abandonment, betrayal and death are real and the journey is hard.

I’m a housewife and a writer. A mom and a career volunteer. On the outside my life may not look as dramatic as Bilbo Baggin’s or Harry Potter’s yet is not that the point of those wonderful tales? The journey rages within and it must continue. As those myths help internalize, I have come to believe the secret to continuing, to keep moving, is to remember where I am going. What is my quest? Who is with me? Who has left me and why?

Ultimately, it is my journey. Only I choose to keep me moving, wounded and tired, but still climbing. I challenge myself to believe the signs when I am told God loves me. I gather my shaky faith and knees and get up… again. In pain, I take another step despite feeling paralyzed and despite believing I have nothing to say from such a broken place. I don’t slay an Ork or fight off a Dementor. I sit my bottom in the chair and I learn to write with a broken heart.




Looking For Water From A Deeper Well

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

“I do not think happiness has its source in the heart at all. It arises in a much more interior part, like something of which the springs are very deep; I think this must be the center of the soul.” –Teresa of Avila, Interior Castles

This summer I am beginning the process. I am starting the manuscript for my third book. The content of this new project will take me to places I have never been before. I suspect the creation of this book will challenge and stretch me as a writer and storyteller as never before.

I have tried to be silent with this project, allowing it to germinate and to form itself. It is not something I wish to force or be contrived. On some level I have a healthy fear of this project and the honesty it will require. I have set the intention to dig deep, find the book, and let it flow.

Years ago I had a dream. In it I am walking over a hill. The kind of rise only created in the subconscious. I am nowhere and yet I am not lost. There is nothing and no one around. I am alone in the foggy, colorless scene and I hear a voice calling my name with great anticipation saying, “Shayne, Shayne, it’s drawing! It is coming! It is Ancient!”

I hungrily peer over the rise from the ground on which I am standing and I see it: a deep crevice in the ground. I see a well.

If dreams are messengers, I woke wondering the message of this dream and immediately consulted my Bible and the passage of Isaac camping in the Valley of Gerar. The ancient text tells the story of wells Isaac’s father, Abraham, dug during his lifetime. Historically wells represent ownership and rights to the land. Although the Philistines had pledged loyalty to Abraham, out of jealousy, they maliciously fill in the wells, and attack by throwing dirt and debris into them causing distress.

In Genesis, upon moving back to the Valley of Gerar, Isaac redigs the wells of his father. With each well he reclaims and cleans out he finds fresh, spring water and has hope to settle and be at peace. Yet, with the first well the shepherds of Gerar quarrel with Isaac’s men so Isaac names this well Esek (Quarrel).

Isaac moves on. His servants dig a second well and again find spring water but there is a fight over this one, too. Isaac names it Sitnah (Accusation or Hatred).

Isaac again chooses to move on and to not fight and his men dig a third well. There is no quarreling or accusation attached to this well and so he names it Rehoboth (Wide-Open Spaces) saying, “Now God has given us plenty of space to spread out in the land.”

God appeared to him that very night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father; don’t fear a thing because I am with you. I’ll bless you and make your children flourish because of Abraham my servant.”

These verses caught my spiritual imagination. Could my dream have been directing me to the truth of finding an ancient, interior well deep within me named Wide-Open Spaces?

In the scriptures wells, or “springs of living water” as they were called, were a sign of God’s grace and blessing. Water represented life itself. Did my dream reveal such life? The reality of an interior place of no quarreling or accusations. A place of promise, blessing and deep peace. A wide-open space in the center of my soul.

As I embark on this journey of finding the book inside me, I am reminded of my dream and these ancient stories and promises. I am reminded of the quote from Teresa of Avila. I don’t want to write a “happy” book from my heart. I want to write a book originating in the center of my soul. I want to throw off fear, quarrels, strife and dig farther letting truth and honesty flow in my words. Healing and peace. Groundedness and intention.

As I write this summer I want clean, living water. I want to throw off external things and people that clog the inner well, my interior spring, the center of me where there is no fear and where God blesses.

Or as Emmy Lou Harris sings in one of my favorite songs, “I am looking for water from a deeper well.”

*Originally posted at Redbud Writers Guild blog. Visit our site and meet all our members!

What Does Steubenville Tell Us: We Are No Better

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

africa 3 193

Worldwide today:

  • Up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
  • Globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
  •  Up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.


I can still see her black and blue face and the small baby in her arms clutching her ratty sweater. She was standing outside the Coordinated Response Center in Zambia. I was visiting her small village with World Vision. I was in Zambia learning about their programs that empower women.


The center is run in partnership with World Vision and other government and local organizations. This small building, and the people and resources it provides for the community is needed because, as it was explained, in Zambia violence against women is acceptable. As one of the women explained, “If your husband does not beat you people wonder if he loves you.”


In Zambia and other parts of the world, when women are raped – and if they go to the police station to report the crime, women are often mocked and raped by the very men she went to for assistance. The response center is a safe place for women to not only get help but to courageously confront what happened to them and fight for a different culture in Zambia.


I will never forget this young mother’s face. She was standing near the entrance to the center. Actually, she wasn’t really standing at all. She was cowering. It was unmistakable that my presence was violent to her. Walking past her shame, into the building — a foreigner, a stranger, no words exchanged – just our eyes catching and her burning look of shame and humiliation. And rage.


As a mother of three young children, I have spent over a decade educating myself about the reality and affects of poverty, disease, oppression and violence against women in developing countries. I have woken up to what life is like for my counterparts in the world.


Enter Ohio. The state next to me. Enter the news media coverage of this disgusting and abusive crime. I watch sad and enraged. I listen to the father of one of the sons defend saying there was “reasonable doubt.” But we all know. The judge reasonably listened, considered evidence, and ruled accordingly. We know this happens everyday. All over the world. Women are abused, mocked, used, attacked, and betrayed. By people they know. And their friends forsake them. Mock them. Threaten them. The victim is put on trial and demanded to carry the shame. This unique evil is the global dynamic of rape.


So why this story? Why has Ohio caught our collective news media imagination? Because of the ages of the children? The social media component of videos and texts? Why are we collectively worked up about this specific incident? Don’t get me wrong. We should be as it hits close to home.


But let’s be honest, we should be vocal and enraged, compassionate and lit up about every case of rape in the world. As Christians, as world leaders, as politicians, as ordinary citizens we turn away from this issue because we don’t want to deal with it. We feel powerless and give in to fear and apathy. We let the unthinkable happen day after day to innocent victims– from domestic violence to the child sex trafficking booming business.


Stuebenville reminds us this could be our children, our town, our families. It shouts from every news outlet the blaring and courageous truth that when it comes to rape we must always come down on the right side of compassion and justice.


At least, that is my prayer.


*Statistics via UN Entity for Gender Equality


How Are You Using Your Power?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

By guest blogger, my co author, Kimberly McOwen Yim.


       I am an abolitionist.
       Three years ago I would have never said this.  I, like my 8 year-old daughter, thought slavery was abolished hundreds of years ago.  I knew injustices occurred and that there was still a problem of inequality and racism woven into our nation’s fabric, but I had no idea that millions – a well accepted estimate of over 27 million – are currently enslaved in our world today.
       Three years ago my son was just starting kindergarten and my daughter was in third grade.  I was entrenched in suburban motherhood – grocery shopping, playdates, workouts at the gym, and coffee with friends.  Sure I had experienced the same undertone of restlessness that many mothers I knew had, but no gym class, book club, girls weekend or family game night could remedy the heartbreak my soul was experiencing over the realities of modern-day slavery. It changed everything.
       I devoured every book I found and signed up to receive email updates from nonprofits on the front lines of rescue and rehabilitation.  While my anger boiled over the horrors of injustice, hope also began to whisper as history pointed to the action of women hundreds of years ago who changed the cultural norm. With limited education and little influence outside the walls of their homes, these women patiently, fervently and creatively began to push back, calling for the end of slavery.
       I also found like-minded friends who could share my heartbreak.  I connected with a small group of local women, as well as with my old college friend, Shayne Moore, who would eventually become the coauthor of a book about finding your power to create change, in this case for modern-day slavery. Having trusted friends gave my wobbling feet security as we stepped out together, using our own voices to make a difference.
       My influence started slowly – one conversation at a time, one invitation at a time. While I was unsure of the difference each step was making, momentum began to build and I saw firsthand the power of collective action.
       Like the women of the first abolitionist movement, we too have the power to create change, even for issues as looming as modern-day slavery. Here are some actions you can take to influence your world for change:
                   Be aware. We need to understand and educate ourselves about the realities of injustice in our world.
                   Pray.  Everyone who works directly on behalf of the most vulnerable in our world acknowledges that divine intervention is necessary to shed light in the darkest places of society.
                   Speak. We may not all speak publically, but we can share what we know with others in our sphere of influence, including neighbors, employees, kids,  teachers, pastors and spouses.
                   Act. Action for change comes in many forms but could include raising funds, advocating with political leaders, speaking at your city council meeting, volunteering your time or sharing information at your church or place of business.
       As a woman living in the United States today, we have more power and influence than any women who have gone before us. The problem often lies in that we don’t always use the power God has so freely given us. Using that power starts with you and me, then in finding others, then taking action one step at a time.
       How are you using the power God has given you?
Originally posted at FullFill


National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Friday, January 11th, 2013


“…there are more people enslaved today than there were during the entire trans-Atlantic African slave trade that ran from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The widely accepted estimate of number of slaves in the world today is 27 million people. 80% are women and children.”

—from Refuse To Do Nothing: Finding Your Power To Abolish Modern Day Slavery

It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Will you refuse to do nothing?

Continue reading an excerpt here.

Learn 6 things you can do now to fight slavery here.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”–William Wilberforce







The Great I Am Is Crying

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

It is a dark, dreary day here today and in America. It reminds me of a day almost three years ago. I wrote this poem then while a hospital chaplain intern. A sweet baby had died a tragic and sad death. Convinced more than ever God sees all and cries with us.

Today The Great I Am is crying.

Everywhere I see He weeps.

Salty tears drip down my window and soak my hair.

She rocks in her chair.

Clutching the black beaded scarf covering her head.

Soft repetitious mutters.

Unmistakable body language of calamity befallen.

Deep-as-the-Universe restrained expressions of grief.

One paces. One hugs. She vacantly shakes her head in disbelief.

They freeze in prayer. Tired, terrified eyes.

There is no relief for this.

An ice pack for her head. Shared anguish for her soul.

The nurse must triage in room 8 and will be with us.

We wait for the impossible-to-know known.

She. Must. See. Him.

An unthinkable reunion.

The room is too small for all this anguish.

I stare at the clock so emotions do not overtake.

She mutters her prayers as I mutter mine.

Two coroners, a chaplain, a father and mother.

One God.

Christ have mercy.

Today The Great I Am is crying.

The grey sad sky pays homage to a mother’s darkest.

Creation must recognize the loss.

The rain, it drips down my window.