The Waiting is the Hardest Part // Matthew Moore

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I went to my very first concert when I was 10 years old. My father took me to Riverport to see Jackson Browne and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. I had spent my whole childhood listening to the greatest hits of Tom Petty on cassette, but it was on that night that I finally got to see him in the flesh. All those songs I had memorized and learned air guitar to were being playing in real life right in front of my eyes.

At the age of 10, I didn’t quite understand what made his songs so catchy, his melodies so singable, and his harmonies so tight. I just knew I liked the songs, and I knew how to sing along. But now that I’m a songwriter, I find myself constantly trying to imitate what Tom made look so easy.

Whether it’s the crowd favorites like Free Fallin’ and American Girl, or it’s the deep cuts like Accused of Love and Down South, his simple twang and even simpler guitar strums have this way of drawing the listener in to be a part of a bigger story. The man had 50 years to hone in that skill of matching the perfect melody with just the right simple chord progression, and he nailed it.

As a truly obsessive Tom Petty fan, I’ve been known to watch his nearly 4 hour documentary on a monthly basis. Through all of my rewatchs of the film, there has been one quote that has consistently stuck out to me. When asked about his songwriting process, he clams up a little bit and you can tell he feels obligated to give some groundbreaking answer to this question. But instead, he pauses, and says, “It seems that the bests ones often just appear. I hesitate to even try to understand it for fear that it might make it go away. It’s a spiritual thing.”

How many times do we sit down with this notion that if we pull out our word clouds, our dictionary, and our thesaurus, that we’re guaranteed to write the next great song? I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve sat down overly prepared with this notion that I was on the brink of writing my best song yet. And in those moments, where I felt the most confident in my ability, I would realize that I wasn’t allowing myself to write authentically. I was writing from this place of presupposition that this was going to be a great song, but in reality those songs felt the most unlike myself.

Now sure, there are certainly times when we come to a writing session fully prepared and knock a song out of the park. But I think Tom has a point, too. I know that the songs I’ve been most proud of were the ones that just kind of fell in my lap. The songs that my pen couldn’t write fast enough to catch up with the words that were flowing out. And I find that when I try and describe the backstory to those sorts of songs that I, too, find myself fearful of trying to understand the source or the reason.

There’s a clip from the same documentary where he describes the process behind writing the song “The Waiting.” For weeks, he’d tool around on the same guitar lick, just waiting for something to come. And sure enough, after waiting for a while, the hard part of putting the pen on paper came around and he wrote one of his most famous songs of his career.

In the recent passing of Tom Petty, I find myself going back to his catalogue pretty regularly. And without fail, I see him trusting his gut, and having faith in the spirit to be his most authentic self as a songwriter. And I hope you’ll join me in doing the same in your songwriting practice, too.

Weekly Inspiration // Ross Donaldson

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Hey there!

My name is Ross Donaldson.  I'm a worship leader here at The Gathering (Webster Groves).  I'm also a songwriter, author, creative consultant, and entrepreneur.  I wanted to let you know the albums that have been inspiring me these days...

Phantom Thread - Jonny Greenwood

Let me just say that Jonny Greenwood is a musical genius. He’s the guitarist/multi-instrumentalist of Radiohead, but his composing works are even more incredible.  He’s a master of turning his soundtracks into characters of the film. They truly add that much to the story line. His work on Phantom Thread was equally inspiring.

One - Sleeping At Last

Ryan O’Neal writes some of the most beautiful soundscapes in modern music. I’ve been friends and recording/touring with Ryan for the past few years.  This current project sets each enneagram type to song.  I had the privilege to write and record the strings for One. Check it out!

The louder I call, the faster it runs - Wye Oak

Wye Oak is a great 2 piece indie band out of Baltimore. Their most recent album just came out and it’s really fun.  It’s equal parts upbeat and brooding.

Singularity - Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins’ new album is an electronic instrumental record that will give you the perfect backing track for your work day routine.

Heiress - Novo Amor

Novo Amor produced this beautifully harmonic record that moves seamlessly from one track to the next. If you enjoy soaring vocals and reverb-laden instruments, you’ll really dig this album.

Until next time,

Ross Donaldson

in pursuit of something good : something good pursuing us // Aly Chisum

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Sometimes, in the midst of pain or hardship (or even just some really bad writer’s block) we wonder: why create at all?
              does what I have to say matter in the hurry and bustle of the world?
              who is even listening?

I know I can begin feel that way with songwriting, and even with the everyday tasks we live through. Showing up to work, scrolling through various social media outlets, driving semi-courteously, wondering if I’ll ever get a date…

It can be tempting to wake up, grumble through routines, feel generally underappreciated, and then look forward to plans and would-be’s that may, in all reality, not ever happen. Why bother with looking for the good ideas right now, when I know that if I just get this done, if I just get a few more hours of sleep, if I just wait until next week when all the team members and pieces are in place then SURELY the mission will be accomplished.

Well thankfully there’s an illustration that I think can help with our problem of feeling like the rest of the world is passing us by. In Matthew 18, Jesus is talking to his buddies about how much God loves us. He describes God as an occupation that they were familiar with, a shepherd, and when one sheep goes missing, he leaves the rest of the 99 in the flock and searches for it.

This story is not one of past history- it is one to demonstrate how we are each actively sought after to be a part of the good thing God is doing in the world. We are wanted; even needed, to be found and contribute to making this earth a more beautiful place to reflect the one who is putting everything right. And that begs a response.

Knowing that we were once lost but are now found is what gives us the inspiration, and even the challenge (as sometimes it’s not pleasant) to move forward. When we feel overcome with mediocracy in art and in our lives, may we always be reminded that not only are we valued and known but are equipped to be shepherds that go after the one idea. The one song. The one show. The one hope to not give up and grumble our way through seasons.

You can find purpose, meaning, and even art in places you may previously wanted to rush through. There really are constant opportunities in life to make something good, because good has come through for you at least once. It’s hard to see the one thing that’s escaping you if you think it’s always going to happen later, so chase after it now. And if you get lost in the chase, well, no worries. You’ve got a pretty directionally-saavy shepherd who is always going to come find you.

 

Back at It // Neil Ostercamp

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After finishing my doctorate in music this month, I’ve found myself reenergized by the saxophone.  Since I was 11, the instrument has been something I think about daily.  I have spent countless hours practicing and performing and learning about myself through that process.  The saxophone has been my voice for over 20 years and I continue to dig deeper into the possibilities of what I can experience through music and creative expression.

I’m inspired by all types of music and how the saxophone fits into that.  Lately, I have been reminded of how much of an influence both jazz and classical repertoire have had on my personal playing style.  I find myself playing music in both styles and have been seeking inspiration from performers and composers that straddle the line between classical and jazz.

The saxophone has a number of musical expectations associated with it, as well as a multitude of appearances in pop culture.  Now that I’ve completed a DMA in saxophone, people often ask me to name my influences and often question the authority of a certain long, curly haired soprano saxophonist which I refuse to name.  In order to squash the idea that the only thing related to the saxophone that exists is the album Breathless, the song Careless Whisper, and the former president of the United States, I would like to share some saxspiration with you.  Here’s a list of saxophonists that have a profound impact on me.  

Jazz Saxophonists
Sidney Bechet
Coleman Hawkins
Lester Young
Charlie Parker
Stan Getz
Dexter Gordon
Ornette Coleman
John Coltrane
Wayne Shorter
Joe Henderson
Steve Lacy
Joe Lovano
Chris Potter
Joshua Redman

Classical Saxophonists
Marcel Mule
Sigurd Raschèr
Fred Hemke
Eugene Rousseau
Donald Sinta
Jean-Marie Londeix
Arno Bornkamp
Claude Delangle

My Teachers
Kim Klaproth
Leo Saguiguit
Dan Thomas
Steve Stusek
Chad Eby
Susan Fancher

Weekly Inspiration // Stu Faris

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So much is happening in this world around us! In everything you look at, taste, smell, hear, and everywhere you poke your head, there is some pretty sweet stuff happening. And what common factor do all of these things have? God has a hand in it all! God is so good to me and here is what I am into this week...

HOCKEY

This time of year is my favorite! The days are getting warmer and longer (most days at least are getting warmer), trees and flowers are waking up, baseball in the greatest baseball city is happening, and hockey! If I have any free time, it’s checking out hockey. From coaching some 8U Spring League hockey that’s happening right now, to watching the highest level of hockey and everywhere in between. It’s prime hockey time. Even though our own hometown Blues didn’t make it in this year, there is some really great playoff hockey to watch right now, like REALLY great! There have been some really physical matchups and might I add that a lot of these post season matchups have been pretty equal. We have had five overtime games so far and two double overtime games. That’s some great hockey! If you don’t get into the regular season as much, take a chance and pick a team for the playoffs and stick with them, root for them, cheer them on, and get into this action. I like watching hockey so much that I have several teams I’m really watching out for right now. And in the end, I just want to see some good games, some close games, and some physical post season hockey going down.

EELS

If you haven’t heard anything about Eels or Mark Oliver Everett, you are surely missing out on some beautiful, thoughtful, sad, happy, dark, and complicated music. And that’s just a few ways to describe some of the stuff that Mark puts out. Here’s another take on it… “The album is somewhat of a musical and philosophical rollercoaster. But that’s all in a day’s work for Everett who adds to his already impressive, uncompromising catalog with another expressive, rugged and diverse gem. It’s not always an easy listen but anything worthwhile generally isn’t and kudos to Everett for having the guts and musical fortitude to pull it off … as he always has.”

Check more out here or on Spotify.

LOCAL MUSIC

Five Kilted Cats

All I can say is check these guys out. They are playing some jazz/blues/lounge style stuff that’s really cool, right here in our city. Check them out here.

The Maness Brothers

These guys are my current favorite STL band. In the vein of sludgy Black Sabbath type riffs, meet Scott H. Biram and Black Keys, to some tasty blues driven licks. They got all I want from a two piece band. The guitar tone kills! The driving drums kills! It’s a total package from two brothers. “Brothers Jake and David Maness grew up in O'Fallon, Missouri on a steady diet of Hendrix and Canned Heat. The obvious end to a childhood of rock & roll is a band, but it took the Maness Brothers twenty some-odd years to start writing together.”

Check them out if you see them playing ANYWHERE, or check them out here.

Daybringer

This instrumental STL band includes The Gathering’s own Brian Behr. These guys are sweet! “Daybringer is an instrumental quintet hailing from St. Louis, Missouri. Pure sonic saturation accompanies thoughtful composition to portray intimate waves of sound and fury, alike. Moments of dynamic shifts feel natural and very musical, with no hints of pretension or predictability. Best paired with introspection.”

Keep an eye out for a new album soon.

Listen to some tracks from them here.

Path Of Might

Another great heavy band from right here in STL. Path of Might is full of riffs, lots of riffs. They are one band that gives you a mix of melodic almost prog rock and a mix of pure metal. With “Hallowed Gate Style”, Path of Might adds some melody and grace to the punishing might of their debut, but more importantly cements the trio as an act who, in time, could equal or even eclipse their diverse influences.

Check them out right here.

The Sanctuary

This is a cool church that’s doing some real cool, good stuff for the people around Orange County, CA. The lead pastor Jay Haizlip brings some good sermons. They’re bringing the word of Christ to the people. The good word. Some good worship. And one of my favorite pro skaters as a kid, Christian Hosoi, is the outreach pastor, so it has to be pretty cool, right?

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Well, that’s just a little taste of what is rattling around in my head and flowing through my veins today. Check some of it out! And this time of year, with good weather coming, is the best time to check out some live music. Go check some out! It’ll help you live a longer life.

See you guys around!

Peace+

Stu Faris

Weekly Inspiration // Ryan Hebel

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Here we are on the cusp of a new season in the midwest (Come on Spring!!!), and inspiration is everywhere!  I always find myself inspired as one season fades away and a new one arrives, expected yes, but nonetheless dramatic in fashion.  Something about the visceral nature of it all forces my body, and consequently my heart and mind, to pay attention, take stock, and respond to the upheaval in a new way.  Like a spring storm, the power of God’s presence rumbles through again and again, drawing my eyes in wonder and sometimes leaving me running for cover.  But in the midst of it all, despite the accompanying uncertainty, one thing is for sure: God is making all things new again, and we all get to be a part of it.  Here are a few of the things that are inspiring me this week, as winter slowly retreats and new life fights springs forth once again.  

Walking to school:
There is something special about watching the neighborhood come to life as I walk with my kids to the neighborhood elementary school in the morning.  As other children and parents pour out of their houses and join us along they way it is inspiring to watch and take part in the gathering of the community around the school.  Different homes, different people, and different circumstances shape who we are and how we respond to one another and taking part in this daily ritual helps to remind me of the beauty and diversity that we share together in the neighborhood.  The short walk also makes me slow down and notice things that I would otherwise miss as a new season unfolds, children grown and change, and the blocks around my house continue to evolve with the passing of time.  It’s a great perspective from which to survey and approach the day and I’m grateful for this time with my kids and my neighbors each morning. 

Indie Film:
I had the opportunity to attend the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and it was incredible.  I have continued to the inspiration from that experience with me into my life and work back her in STL, and it has ignited a new interest for me in indie film.  It’s really interesting to get to take part in experiencing a new film with an audience (and the director) for the first time and see the impact that it makes on people.  In fact, it reminded me a lot of experience we share in worship each week as the congregation gathers to encounter and response the living God in a fresh and powerful way, and it got me pretty fired up again about the power and beauty in communal experiences of God and art.  The way they work together and inform one-another and the way that we are invited into that experience at the gathered Church it truly transformational.  In addition, I'm working on possibilities for partnership with the St. Louis International Film Festival this yea, and on various projects in the future, and I'm excited about the work they are doing to promote indie film here in town.  

My DSLR:
On a related note, I’ve discovered a renewed interest in my DSLR camera and the way the light interacts with the various landscapes and subjects I encounter.  I grew up learning to shoot on a Canon A1, learning the art of developing and print-making in a dark room in the basement of my church.  Maybe it shows my age, and perhaps as a result of this prior experience, I’ve long been intimidated by working with a DSLR camera and generally avoided it.  However some of my more recent experiences, like Sundance, have renewed my interest in film (both motion and still) and provided me the excitement and courage necessary to risk being uncomfortable with my gear in pursuit of learning and leveraging a powerful new tool for art.  Trying new things is scary, and sometimes a lot of work.  But it’s always worth it.  

Ableton LIVE and MIDI:
I’ve been getting back to into my music tech roots more and more lately, exploring and experimenting with the possibilities in the realm of electronic music, digital media, and remote control/sync for instruments, lighting, and video.  The possibilities are enormous and the ability to combine the amazing creative work of multiple genres and artists into something entirely new creates amazing opportunities and exponentially expands the palate for any artist or creative.  Neither Ableton LIVE or MIDI are new technology by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s incredible to see the evolution of the software and the protocol and how they grow to interact more seamlessly and powerfully with other hardware and software platforms in recent years.  I’m looking forward to carving out some more time to get creative with all of it and see what might spring forth!

Mosaic Church - Los Angeles:
Erwin McManus and MOSIAC and not new to the game by any means, but they are doing some incredible and spring things related to church and art out there in the LA metro as of late.  They are bold in their art-forward approach and their fast-growing multi-site strategy in an urban context.  Which, of course, really speaks to my heart for ministry through The Gathering and Made New Creative in STL and give me a new energy about the possibilities and promise of future ministry here.  Check them out!  And if you don’t know well… now you know.  

The artisans and craftsmen/women working on The Gathering’s new McCausland Site:
It’s all in the details, and the details are starting to come together over at the new McCausland Site.  There are a lot of incredible artists and craftsmen and women committed to some really special creativity and work in and around the new space and and the merging of all of it for the creation of a collective holy space where we will soon worship is an inspiration to me every time I stop by.  In addition to those building the actual building and preparing the site, there are metal artists, graphic designers/artists, painters, photographers, textile/pattern designers, videographers, AVL designers, interior designers, custom furniture builders, and more.  And they are all working hard, giving of their gifts and talents to create a new worship space that will be an inspiration for thousands of people in the years to come.  I will be sitting down with each of these contributing artists and chronicling the various artistic and creative aspects of the new site on this blog and on MNC social media from now until the opening of the building, when you can check it all out yourself!  This is going to be really cool, so keep it locked and check back often for great background stories on these artists and their creative work in the lead-up to the grand opening.  

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Weekly Inspiration // Whitney Ostercamp

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Hey! My name is Whitney Ostercamp. I’m a volunteer worship leader over at The Gathering’s Clayton site, and I wanted to share some things that continue to inspire me. 

The Bible Binge

I was first introduced to podcasters Jamie Golden and Knox McCoy through their captivating recaps of Bachelor episodes. No joke, even if you’re not into the Bachelor, their retelling of the episodes and analysis of what happens is worth a listen. I cry-laugh along with them each time. They also cover all things pop-culture related in their podcast The Popcast. Most recently, they came out with another Podcast that I am slightly obsessed with: The Bible Binge. Basically they take stories of the Bible and retell them in a modern way (as if they were episodes of The Bachelor). This podcast has strangely helped me gain a deeper understanding of familiar Bible stories. It’s super light-hearted and perfect to listen to while cooking or putting away laundry.

St. Louis Cardinals

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Mike Shannon is back on the radio, temperatures are (hopefully) on the rise, and the boys are back on the field. Baseball has always been a central part of my upbringing. My eyes brim with tears when those clydesdales trot around the field. I know where to get the best hot dog and the coldest Bud Light in the park. I don't care that my shorts are soaked with sweat in the 8th inning in 103° heat. I do enjoy watching the game itself, but to me, what I enjoy most is that there is no greater community than the one found inside Busch stadium. Baseball unites all races, genders, generations, economic statuses, and political views. Sitting in my one little seat in that big stadium of people is the closest I’ll get to experiencing God’s creation on Earth. For a sweet nine innings, we Cardinals fans are one. We are equals, with no boundaries, no divisions between us. We're all friends rooting on our birds. Baseball heaven, indeed. 

Being a Tourist in My Own Town

I grew up in St. Louis, but moving back and living here as an adult is a completely new experience. There are always new restaurants, shops, and small businesses opening that I like to go discover. If I ever have a free morning, I like to just get in my car and find a new spot of town that I haven’t been to before. This past weekend I went to Fiddlehead Fern Café in the Shaw neighborhood and just fell in love with it. Get in your car and go. Wander. Explore. Rediscover your own town in a fresh light, and take time to appreciate the architecture and landscape around you. Experiencing your city through fresh eyes may make you fall even more in love with it. 

Professional Colleagues

Recently I went to our regional music therapy conference in Iowa City. I love going to conferences not only to stay up to date with the most current research in my field but also to learn from the pioneers of music therapy. There is nothing more inspiring to me than to pick the brain of someone I respect. I like to figure out what drives them, what goals they are setting, how they got where they are now and what they wish they knew along the way. I encourage you to find someone who admire in your professional field and take them to out to coffee. Learn from those who have gone before you and be inspired by their wisdom. 

Hamilton

I know, I know, you’re probably sick about hearing about Hamilton. Especially if you’re in St. Louis (the touring show is currently playing at the Fox). Welp, I'm here to tell you that it’s worth the hype. I actually didn’t listen to Hamilton for about 7 months after it premiered on Broadway.  My mom and sister continually begged me to listen, telling me how life changing this musical is. They were 100% right. The first time I listened to the soundtrack, Neil was at rehearsal for church and I was making dinner at home. When he came back from rehearsal, he found me sitting on the kitchen floor... crying... it’s that good. Just listen to it, and have the Wikipedia synopsis up to follow along with the story. The music continually inspires me. I always hear something new and it's one of the only soundtracks that just hasn’t gotten old. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius (genius) and should command your respect (respect). Learn more about Hamilton in this special by CBS Sunday Morning.

You Are What You Art // Ross Donaldson

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You all know the phrase, "you are what you eat."

It's 100% true.  The molecular properties of the foods you consume are brought into your body, alter your own physical and psychological makeup, and produce everything from growth to moods, disease to genetics.

Now consider this phrase: "you are what you art."

Art has always been something that compels, confronts, confuses, and creates new worlds.  Cultures change because of art; politics are overturned, and the world is changed forever.

The artist has an incredible role within humanity.  The truest artist has always been on the forefront of creating culture - not simply reacting to it.

Which brings me again, to the new phrase, you are what you art.

Biologist James Zull writes, "Neuroscience tells us that the products of the mind--thought, emotions, artistic creation--are the result of the interactions of the biological brain with our senses and the physical world: in short, that thinking and learning are the products of a biological process…This realization, that learning actually alters the brain by changing the number and strength of synapses, offers a powerful foundation for rethinking everything."

Art changes the mind, which changes the biology in one's brain and the physical world.

Consider the following artist…the chef who refuses to use genetically modified plants and animals to create a dish that is sustaining the biology of the consumer, as much as he/she is sustaining the environment.  

The culinary artist is transforming how we think about food, how we consume it, and even our most basic genetic and biological synapses.

Now consider the poet or songwriter…he/she writes to provoke and change a once held truth.  Over time these ideas and hopes become reality.  There's an incredible amount of power in the words, chords, melodies, and textures that the artist is creating; so much so, that our biological synapses are modified and we become a different person (in thought, reaction, and as society).

Are you creating beauty and tension and words and worlds that is worthy of biological change? 

Consider your art in these terms.  
Consider the power of what you create.  
Because you truly are what you art.

Peace,

Ross Donaldson

Weekly Inspiration // Aly Chisum

 Photo courtesy of  jordysearcymusic.com

Photo courtesy of jordysearcymusic.com

The life of a nurse/musician is often filled with working, eating, and being awake at times that other people probably aren’t. Many times I find myself at home awake because my body hasn’t adjusted to being off the night shift, and no one is around to chat with. I usually fill that time with music, either listening to tunes or playing around on the keyboard (with headphones on if it’s 2 am). Here are some recent inspirations for me:

Tell All My Friends- Will Regan

This album by United Pursuit’s Will Regan has been on repeat for me lately. Somewhere between a worship album and a collection of smooth listening tracks, if your brain just needs some rest and your spirit some warmth I would highly recommend this record. Will has a voice that instantly takes you to a place where problems fade, and if you’re someone who prays, it helps you focus on some simple truths of God that I think we typically overlook.

Dark in the City- Jordy Searcy

Okay this one I am biased, but one of my lifelong friends Jordy Searcy is killing the Nashville music scene with his new EP Dark in the City. Jordy knows his way around a guitar better than I know my way around my own house, and his soft high notes will truly melt your heart. A favorite track is Love and War in Your Twenties, which definitely hits home for me in my era of life right now. It’s an anthem about how confusing twenty-something’s can get, and in the end we’re all just chasing love. Agreed, Jordy.

Fruition

This band was one of those never-heard-them-but-sure-I’ll-go-to-the-concert bands. And wow am I glad that I did! Fruition is an incredible group of powerhouse musicians, led equally by a mandolin, electric guitar, and at least three part harmonies all the time. The concert was mesmerizing, with fills that could have been planned or very much skillfully improv-ed. Sounding like a little rockier version of the Head and the Heart, Fruition surely carves their own spot in the folk/rock genre. Their lyrics don’t fall short of the instrumentation behind them, and together they make for a captivating experience. I would highly recommend checking out this band, and catch them the next time they are in town!

Aly Chisum is the Associate Worship Leader at the The Gathering's McCausland Site and a vital part of the Made New Creative team.  She is featured on The Desertour most recent EP release, as a performer and songwriter, and she typically leads at our 5pm worship service on Saturday evenings.  She completed our internship program in the summer of 2015, and also works full-time as a registered nurse.  

Weekly Inspiration // Neil Ostercamp

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Hi Everyone,

My name is Neil Ostercamp and I am a worship leader at The Gathering.  When I’m not working for the church, I teach saxophone at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and enjoy anything that has to do with food and drinks.  Here are a few things that have brought me inspiration lately. 

Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran Hamasyan is a pianist making some incredible music.  He was introduced to me by my friend Dalton a few months ago so I’ve been catching up on everything he has released over the last decade.  His latest release For Gyumri is out now.

tigranhamasyan.com

Cooking

Ever since college I have really enjoyed cooking at home.  I spend a lot of my free time reading cooking magazines, watching Good Eats, and experimenting with new recipes as well as refining old ones.  My wife Whitney and I have a food blog you should take a look at that documents all of our experiences.

thenewlywedchefs.com

Steve Lacy

I am equally excited and anxious to defend my dissertation this week.  My research is focused on the soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy.  My research has included reading, listening, transcription, analysis, and a lot of writing.  Through the process I have learned a lot about this wonderful musician.  Go take a listen to some of his music.

www.discogs.com/artist/97532-Steve-Lacy

Weekly Inspiration // Stu Faris

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Hey there, Stu Faris here. I’m the Audio Visual Coordinator at The Gathering. You can find me behind the mixing console, climbing behind the stage or somewhere dealing dealing with lighting or up in a lift or crouched behind a laptop or computer dealing with video world, but occasionally I’m behind the kit. I love making lots of music at home and play every and all the instruments to write and record in just about every genre I can. Thanks for checking this out!

Parquet Courts

They’ve been around since 2010 releasing some great albums. A little mix of post-punk, garage rock, art punk, instrumental, and indie rock they keep on releasing some cool albums every time. Every album is great. Check them out.

Mew

Danish Alt. Rock, I mean, how much more intrigued to you need to be? I have a thing for three piece bands, especially three pieces that are on the prog rock and punk rock side. Here’s a quote about what they’re like, “I usually say we’re ‘indie stadium.’ A mix between ‘feelings’ and ‘thinking’ is usually good.” I mean, come on!!! Most albums, when finished, Bjerre gets working on all the visuals. But they’re most recent album, happily titled “Visuals”, they started with all the visuals, then wrote the music around it. You won’t be disappointed by them.

Curtis Harding

This dude, man! He’s only released a couple albums but they kill. He released his first one in 2014 and another just last year which was for sure, I think, my favorite soul album of the year. He is awesome so check him out.

Trip to the Lou

Cool podcast from some real good comedians, right here in St. Louis. Typically, they go to a new STL spot and check something out, then tell about it on the next show every week. Good STL stuff!

View from the Penalty Box

I like old time hockey. I like old time hockey stories. This podcast has ALL of that and more. Cam Connor and his son do a great job bringing this show to everyone. The audio takes a bit to get past at first, but the stories make up for it. I can’t get enough of this one. I know it’s sports and not everyone is into that, but I love history and just life stories in general AND he’s like the nicest Canadian dude ever, but and old enforcer. Old time hockey!

KDHX

If you don’t know about KDHX or have never really given it much time, you’re missing out. There are so many different shows and such a wide variety even on some single shows that you’re guaranteed to find something at some point that you’ll like. It’s turned me on to a lot of new music too. Check it out! Give them money too! STL!!!

That’s all for this time. I could keep throwing more out since I’m usually all over the place with music, podcasts and inspirations, but that is all for now. Peace+

In the Midst of Pain // Whitney Ostercamp

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The good people of Made New Creative asked me to write a post about some things I’m into and what inspires my creative processes. I had a really hard time thinking of very specific things and had some time this week to think about well gosh, what DOES inspire me?! I’m really into the St. Louis food scene, and I really like the Popcast (especially in their recaps of Bachelor episodes) but does it really inspire my creative work? No.

In looking back over the songs I’ve written for the church, I can say that they were all inspired by the same thing: current events.

Perhaps it’s just because I’ve grown a little older, but after moving back to St. Louis,  I find myself listening to and reading more and more news. I have made it a point to get my news from several different sources, including those that are clearly more liberal and also conservative, as well as those that truly seem to just be reporting unbiased facts. Being informed and knowing what is going on in the world causes my heart to stir and results in a need to respond. Everyone responds to news differently, and that’s a beautiful thing. For me, my response typically comes in the form of a song.

News --> Personal Emotional Response --> Song

“We Are Your Love” and “Kingdom Come” were born out of my heart breaking in the midst of the Ferguson news and Black Lives Matter movement. “Be Near to Us” was written as tears streamed down my face in a cry for God to be near to my family as they experienced the death of a close friend.  “Holy Child” was written after story upon story of world nations disagreeing and flooded the news.

My challenge to you creatives out there is to stay informed and in touch with what’s happening in the world, in your country, in your city, even in your own family, and then respond with a song. Jot down lyrics that you just need to get out, that you want others to hear, and perhaps ones they can relate to. Then pick up a guitar or sit down at your keyboard and noodle around with some chords that align with the message you want to convey in your response.  

Right now, it seems that the news is full of horrible, heart wrenching stories. Even in the midst of pain, art flourishes. Respond by writing about how your heart is breaking alongside those in the news. Respond by writing a song of justice or peace. Respond by writing a song of hope or how to find joy into a world of hurt.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel “inspired” when the world seems so broken, but that’s when some of our most beautiful art can come forward and truly change the lives of those who need it the most. I’ll leave you with this quote, as it inspired me this past week after hearing of the shooting in Parkland, Florida. My friend Tyler shared it on Facebook, and it’s stuck with me throughout the week. After learning of Kennedy's assassination, Leonard Bernstein responded by saying this:

We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

Read his response in its entirety here. 

Owning My Story // Matthew Moore

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I have always considered myself a writer. My first attempt at writing a novel was in the 4th grade. If I had some time after finish my work in class, I would feverishly scribble down words on a page while they were still fresh in my mind. One page turned into two, turned into four, turned into an entire chapter. I was feeling so inspired I didn’t want to stop. After penning nearly 20 pages and a handful of chapters, I set down my pencil and decided to proofread my work.

As I read back over it, I started to notice a trend. The more I read it, the more I realized… I was writing a book I had just read the day before. All I had done was replaced the main character with a guy named “Matthew Moore.” Pretty creative, huh?

Now I realize this probably happens a lot to people—especially young ones—when they’re first starting to write. We’re easily influenced by the media we take in, and that’s a great thing! But at some point, we have to find our own voice. If I want to call myself a writer, at some point I have to stop ripping off every Roald Dahl book I’ve ever read.

During college I hit a real creative slump. I wasn’t inspired to write songs, I had stopped trying to write creatively, and the idea of pursuing music was quickly falling off my radar. I was surrounded by some of the most talented musicians and songwriters I had ever known, and I felt like I didn’t stand a chance compared to them. I had already learned my lesson in grade school that if I was just going to imitate them I’d get nowhere, so I had resolved instead to just let them be the creative folks and I would be the guy in the corner admiring their art.

Last spring, I was challenged to try and write and record a batch of songs. Originally, I wasn’t really on board. “What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said?” “Even if I had something to say, couldn’t someone else say it better anyway?” I was pretty pessimistic about my songwriting abilities. But after having a few friends talk me down off the ledge, I started to give it a shot. Once I gave myself permission to be creative again, I realized I did actually have something to say.

The truth is, we tell better stories when we believe our stories are worth being told. It’s easy to compare yourself to someone who may be a better writer, a better guitar player, or a better singer than you are, but you have something they don’t have: your own experiences. No one can tell your story better than you.

I was also selling God short when it came to the creative process, too. My doubts in my own storytelling ability also showed my doubts in God’s story in my life. When I put the pen to paper again, I started to see God’s likeness manifesting itself time and time again. I was able to write about hard times in my life because it was there that God showed up with redemption. I was able to write about good times because in those moments God appeared with glory.

So if you walk away from this post with something, I hope it’s this: own your story. It’s the only one you get, so make it count.

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Matthew Moore is the worship leader at The Gathering’s BarChurch site. He is featured on The Desert, where he worked as the lead songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist on the record. When he’s not working on music, odds are you’ll see him around town riding his olive green scooter with some earbuds in playing the latest episode of some podcast.

Weekly Inspiration // Ross Donaldson

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Hey there!

My name is Ross Donaldson.  I'm a worship leader here at The Gathering.  I'm also a songwriter, author, creative consultant, and entepreneur.  I wanted to let you know what's inspiring me these days…

Between The World And Me

This book by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a MUST READ to better understand America’s endemic mistreatment and subjugation of black bodies and lives.  Between The World And Me explores American history in a way that is rarely taught or discussed - spanning early slavery, prison systems, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

https://www.amazon.com/Between-World-Me-Ta-Nehisi-Coates/dp/1925240703/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517499608&sr=8-1&keywords=coates+between+the+world+and+me

You Made It Weird

You Made it Weird is the podcast hosted by Pete Holmes.  Holmes is a quirky and nerdy comedian (and he’s also Rob Bell’s best friend).  His podcast hilariously explores art, creativity, faith, and purpose. I promise you’ll think creatively and critically through tears of laughter on this one.  NOTE: you might want to listen to this when the kids are out of the room ;)  

https://nerdist.com/podcasts/you-made-it-weird-channel/

Reservoir

Reservoir is the newest album from indie-folk/electronic songwriter, Gordi.  It’s a beautifully written album full of dense and dark soundscapes.  Her voice soars and stirs up some pretty visceral emotions within the listener.  

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/reservoir/1242961904

Words Do Things

Ok, I know self-promotion is lame.  But this week is the 2 year anniversary of the release of my book, Words Do Things.  Words Do Things is a book of lyrical poetry.  So if you’re in the mood to get your poem on and want to explore faith, doubt, politics, love, and life, grab a copy!

https://www.amazon.com/Words-Do-Things-Lyrical-Conversations/dp/1523287004/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517500769&sr=1-1&keywords=words+do+things
 

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Singing Works Just Fine For Me // Aly Chisum

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“Singing works just fine for me.”

My favorite, all time main man, legendary musician and aspirational lyricist is James Taylor.

Yes, I am 25. Yes, I already bought my presale ticket for when he is coming to St. Louis in May.

In one of his most famous tunes, Sweet Baby James, there is a lyric that I can’t help but smile to everytime I’m singing along-

“There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway, a song that they sing when they take to the sea. A song that they sing of their home in the sky, maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep. But singing works just fine for me.”

I absolutely love the sentiment that James is creating here. Call me on taking artistic license or subjective interpretation, but I think that this illustrates just how diverse and unique of an expression each one of us has in our own space- and how we can learn from and lean on each other.

We all approach and handle our own day to days differently. The song I sing when I take to the highway might be in a completely separate key or time signature than yours, and it certainly doesn’t sound the same as the song that you sing when you take to the sea. The motivations and thoughts that drive my work day might be completely different than the dreams and ambitions that encourage you to work yours. My family and friends sure look different than yours- all wonderful and crazy of course, but their tune is unique and totally specific.

And sometimes, well sometimes I may not understand why you don’t have a song that you sing of your home in the sky. Maybe you like to paint about it instead, or kick soccer balls in the backyard there, or build sound panels for one of the rooms. But it’s okay that our expressions surrounding the same thing are different. In fact, it’s holy.

Holy, meaning literally set apart. Our displays of love for one another, while mine might come in song or words and yours may come in gifts or food are completely set apart by the specific, diverse, and intricate humans we are. This difference is a good thing, and often it is what allows friends to respond to sorrow, families to celebrate new beginnings, and workplaces to start to function as a solid team. Without our varied shapes of songs and expressions, we’d be a pretty jumbled up people that didn’t fit together at all.


So celebrate the things that make you totally and completely you. It makes a huge impact on those around you, how you respond to them, and how you love them. Now more than ever we need to know people and be known ourselves. How you express joy and sadness could not be more important to this world.


And for now, singing works just fine for me.

  Aly Chisum is the Associate Worship Leader at the  The Gathering's   McCausland Site  and a vital part of the Made New Creative team.  She is featured on  The Desert ,   our most recent EP release, as a performer and songwriter, and she typically leads at our 5pm worship service on Saturday evenings.  She completed our  internship program  in the summer of 2015, and also works full-time as a registered nurse.  

Aly Chisum is the Associate Worship Leader at the The Gathering's McCausland Site and a vital part of the Made New Creative team.  She is featured on The Desertour most recent EP release, as a performer and songwriter, and she typically leads at our 5pm worship service on Saturday evenings.  She completed our internship program in the summer of 2015, and also works full-time as a registered nurse.  

Out of Practice // Yvi Martin

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The yoga mat is so unused it won’t roll out flat.  I set a shoe down on either end to keep it from scrolling back up on itself, and then stare at it with a sigh.  Pink.  Why did I choose pink?  I don’t like pink.

Three years ago, at the pinnacle of my physical fitness regimen, I loved yoga.  I had gotten good at it.  I knew how good it felt to stretch tired ligaments, strengthen underused muscles, and balance – in ways that made my toddler son believe I was a super hero.  I was diligent in my practice – if twice a week is diligent.  I was more confident than afraid - still a little afraid.  But not like I am now, facing the horrid Pepto Bismol pink mat. 

I’m out of practice.

The new app on my phone has a 14 minute intro sequence for beginners.  I prop it up on the couch and press “start.”  Let the torture begin.

There was some falling.  I fell over (is tree pose really for beginners??).  The phone fell over (it must’ve felt my pain).  My confidence fell (I guess we don’t just pick up where we left off, after all). 

But nothing got broken.

“Practice makes perfect” is a thing that they say.  Except it’s not true.  “Nobody’s perfect,” is another thing they say.  You can’t have it both ways. 

As a kid I practiced for a lot of things.  We probably all did.  I practiced piano (45 minutes a day!!)  I practiced viola (not nearly as much, owing to the fact that stringed instrument practice sounds are significantly less tolerable to the parental ear as piano practice sounds.  The astute student will use this truth to her advantage).  I practiced spelling words and singing and soccer.  I practiced drawing nearly every day for the year in which I knew my calling was to be the next famous American artist.  I practiced shooting hoops with my little sister and brother.  I practiced dance routines for show choir.  I practiced making friendship bracelets during a brief entrepreneurial stage when I convinced myself this could be a legitimate income generator for a 14 year old.  It was not, in fact. 

But the point is, a lot of my kid time was spent practicing.  For something.  And that’s just it.  There was always a something.  Practice, when we’re kids, has a specific purpose.  We practice for performance: a concert, a recital, a game, a show, a spelling bee, a test, a tournament.  That’s true right on up through high school, college, grad school – if you go that route. 

Then the real world of adulting happens and by and large the tournaments are over.  The select few among us find vocations still driven by performance, which inspires the necessary practice.  But for the rest of us…the concert/recital circuit for the 30-something working mom is, well, you can imagine.  There are no spelling bees for millennials or Gen X-ers or those of us who fall in between, and organized sports are only organized if we organize them now.  All of a sudden our reasons for practicing are gone. 

Or they’ve changed anyway. 

Now the average Jo among us doesn’t practice so much to win or achieve or outshine or excel.  I didn’t pull out the stinky pink mat to gear up for my yoga show or compete against my next-door neighbor.  I’m not practicing it for a prize or applause.  So what’s the point? 

We redefine what practice means to us when performance is no longer the motivation. 

Practice doesn’t make perfect.  It never did.  Practice makes a pattern.

And patterns are internal – which makes this kind of practice so much harder, but so much more worthwhile.  Practicing for the sake of creating a pattern to our lives with no particular end in mind is deeply spiritual work and it requires intention on our part.  We don’t so much practice to be good at what we do.  We practice to become who we are.   

We get to choose our own regimen.  We decide what rituals we want to write on our hearts, our minds, our bodies.  No one will make us do it, unless we ask them to, but through the practicing we choose we compose the rhythm of our lives.  The things we practice (or don’t practice) now tell us less about what we can do, and more about who we are. 

So now, I practice Portuguese so that I can communicate with friends in Mozambique – and also absorb a different socio-linguistic perspective on the world, because I’m nerdy like that.

I practice writing, not because I think anyone else will want to read it, but so that I can know myself as a writer. 

I practice prayer, not because there is some great epiphany every time, but so my heart is trained and ready for those times when God does speak.  

I practice singing, not because the mom-choir is holding open auditions, but because I always want a song in my heart. 

And I suppose I’ll roll out the gross Bubble Yum pink mat again and resume my practice of yoga.  Not because I will ever be amazing at it.  But because I want my body to be strong.  I want a pattern of balance in body and mind.  Aaaand…maybe because I don’t want to throw my back out while chasing my toddler around 5 Star Burger.  That’s a thing that happened. 

But one thing’s for sure – I’m going to need a new mat.

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5 Things of Inspiration // Stu Faris

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1. Reflection

Before we look forward, I always think it’s a great idea and practice to look back. What better time of the calendar year to do this then right now! Another year behind us, another year ahead of us. I find it not only helpful to look back at the past year that has passed, but to also look back at the last two, five, ten, or twenty years and search for little nuggets of helpful growth and understanding to use as a foundation for whatever I’d like to accomplish in the new year ahead. Reflect on what I’ve been through, what has made me strong, what has made me weak, what has made me feel good or bad, what has made me ME. Look back, then turn around and don’t look back

2. Restlessness

Never settling for the norm. Never being comfortable with the way things may be at the present. Never being happy with just doing the easy thing or trying to be safe. I find that looking for new ways to reinvent and redo the things I’m involved in not only keep things fresh but keep me looking for ways to be creative. It’s always very normal for me, and many of us, this time of year to feel very restless. With all the changes that are happening, from the super obvious calendar change, to the resolutions made, the things given up, and even the slow shift towards daylight savings time that is happening. Don’t be okay with just being. One of the things I tell my kids at least once a week is to be yourself and how boring this world would be if we were all the same, if we were all trying to be like one another. This time of year makes me more restless than any other time because it’s a time to re-evaluate myself and the changes I would like to make in myself and the projects I want to work on this year.

3. Rest

I thought it was important to also follow up, as strange as it may seem, by saying to it’s also very important to rest. Let me explain more. I’m thinking more in terms of recharging. Recharge your creative batteries. We all are creative in one way or another. Even if you don’t think you are, there is SOME way that you are. We were created to create. Our Creator made us to be creative. That can be SO many different ways, so many areas of life, so many corners of the world. This time of year, I use it to restlessly reflect, but also use moments within all of this to rest, to recharge. Recharge by simply stepping away from things that are to loud in your creative life. Recharge your soul by centering yourself, by meditating, by praying, by being in worship, or by just being present.

4. Restarting

This is an important step for me and I think the most important step of all. Once we figure out who we are at this very moment, it’s important to readjust ourselves and to press restart in some ways, in lots of ways. Start new projects, start saying NO to things that aren’t helping us out with what we are being called to do, starting to live a more honest life that is full of more love, restarting our creative motors, then...

5. Run

Hit the ground running! Run with whatever it is that we are wanting to run with. Run away from the things that are not a positive influence in our lives. Run towards our dreams. Run towards our goals. Run towards the people and things that inspire and lift us up. Run through the walls that may keep us away from what we are trying to accomplish. Run full speed at a life of being great while finding a life that honors Christ and takes care of our brothers and sisters around us. Run and gun!

Whatever you do every year to plan for the year ahead, I urge you to always try and switch it up a little somewhere. Change is GOOD! And always remember God is great!

Try new things. You’ll be OK. It’ll all be OK.

Here’s to a wonderful and creative 2018 ahead!

5 Practices to Stay Creative at Christmastime

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As a musician, I find that it’s hardest to be creative and inspiring during the holiday season. Since we started working on songs for “Run & Tell” in the spring and recorded all summer, by the time we get to holiday music in December, I’m, well… just over it. I don’t think this applies exclusively to worship leaders, but most folks that work in the creative arts industry. Many people spend a LOT of time and energy crafting their work for the “most wonderful time of the year.” The elementary school Christmas concert you prepped for back in October, the window display of your boutique shop you designed in November, the planning of your company’s big Christmas party back when budgets were due in July. So when the big month is here, we can often experience the “well… now what?” feeling. We’ve habituated to our own music and art and it doesn’t seem special anymore.

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So how do we find inspiration this time of year as creative people? I have five simple practices you can incorporate in the busyness of the season to help you find inspiration.  

  1. Talk to other people about your own work. Not your mom (although I’m sure she’d love to hear from you, and her opinions are important, too), and not your best friend. Find someone who knows a thing or two specifically about what you do and ask for honest feedback. We learn from those we admire, and who are honestly better than we are at what we do. Find someone you professionally or creatively admire, and treat them to coffee. Ask them what inspires them, if they've seen or heard your work, and then ask them (perhaps with butterflies in your stomach) what you can do better. I guarantee that leaving that coffee shop you'll think about your own work differently and be inspired to create in a whole new light.
  2. Unplug. My husband Neil is really good at this. It’s ironic that I’m writing a blog post on this, but after you’ve read through this, turn. off. your. phone. Turn it off especially during meals, movies, of course while you’re driving, and even at work for a while. We are so attached to our little devices that we might be missing beautiful things in REAL LIFE that is right in front of our faces. And that beautiful thing waiting for us when we put down our phone can be inspiring.  

  3. Write. Related to unplugging, I truly value the physical effort and satisfying feeling of writing with a pen and paper. All of my lyrics to songs are hand written. All of my recipes for our food blog are hand written. There is something about not being able to delete your previous thought, actually seeing it and choosing to scribble it out or perhaps circle and come back to later that I really enjoy about the creative process. Get away from the screen, from thesaurus.com, from checking Facebook in another tab while you think of lyrics, and just write.

  4. Pray. Out loud. In the car. On the way to work. When we lived in North Carolina, I had a 60-minute drive to work. While I loathed this drive at first, I began to look forward to it as I realized it was the only time in my day where I could just… be. I don’t know about you, but I have to pray out loud. There is waaaay too much going on in my brain for me to keep my prayers on-topic and not get distracted if I don’t. After moving back to St. Louis I’ve kept this practice of praying in the morning, out loud, driving to work. Yes, I might look a little looney or like I’m talking to myself, but it helps me wake up, focus my day, and spend good time with the Lord. That time to me with God is precious and I’ve been inspired many mornings as I’m praying and watching the firey sun rise.

  5. Remember. Spend some time this holiday season remembering why you continually choose to share your creativity with others. This goes with anything you start to burn out on: art, vocations, relationships. It’s a healthy practice to stop and just take a few minutes to reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remember that even in the bleak midwinter, God made new a world that longed for hope. And he did that through the gift of his son. It’s imperative that even today, we live in a broken world that needs to be made new through the gift of Jesus. Christmas is a beautiful reminder of that gift that freely came to us, and that we need Him to come again and again. We need to be reminded of it again and again. So, take some time to remember.

I hope this Christmas season you honor the nostalgic wonder of the season while also remembering why it’s so important and what part your art will play in it. When you feel burned out and like the beauty of Christmas has faded before it’s even begun, talk. unplug. write. pray. and remember. Merry Christmas, and keep creating.

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Whitney Ostercamp is a board-certified music therapist in St. Louis. She works in the public school system helping students with special needs through research-based music therapy interventions. Ostercamp is a volunteer worship leader at the Clayton Site of The Gathering, and frequently writes original music with Made New Creative, including the title track of the album “We Are Your Love," and "Holy Child," from the Made New Creative's latest release, "Run & Tell." In addition to music therapy and worship leading, Ostercamp is a freelance writer and food photographer at thenewlywedchefs.com

Weekly Inspiration // Aly Chisum

Hi there, my name is Aly Chisum and I am a worship leader with the Gathering UMC. One of my favorite things about music is the ability it has to create meaning during a specific time, and to bring back memories that are almost tangible later down the road. We’re forming those associations almost constantly without knowing it, only to find out later what a sweet impact the lyrics and melodies have. Here are some things that have been creating meaning for me as of late!

The Head and the Heart
This band makes it in the top three favorites of all time for me. Including intricate three part harmonies in almost every song they do, The Head and the Heart molds unconventional lyrics with extremely complex musicianship to create incredible sounds. I know that when the leaves start changing it’s time to go back to some old favorites like Down in the Valley and 10,000 Weight In Gold. They are definitely my “cool weather” band!

Tedeschi Trucks Band
This group is led by acclaimed musician Derek Trucks and his wife Susan Tedeschi. Through a fellow musician at the Gathering I have become a huge fan of this group! Their sweet blues lines make you forget how long an 8 minute song is going on for because you are enthralled with the intricate solos you are hearing. I have especially enjoyed listening to their song These Walls (the beat drops at about the 2:40 mark, after quite the sarod solo).

Tiny Desk Concerts
NPR’s brilliant way of making amazing live music accessible to pretty much anyone! I can (and have) spend hours just clicking through to the next Tiny Desk Concert, seeing favorites charm the cubicle and learning about new artists. Leon Bridges absolutely slays it in his feature , and I often turn this on when I’m around the house and feelin’ smooth.

Dear Evan Hansen
Last and certainly not least, I am a musical theatre nerd. Like, know all the lyrics to every song of the three hour show Hamilton nerd. Following Hamilton’s Tony award for Best Musical in 2016 came the new winner of 2017, Dear Evan Hansen. This show was written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who are known for their song cycle Edges and more notably for the lyrics to La La Land. Dear Evan Hansen is a completely original  musical, and tells the story of a shy high school kid who is learning about how to gain confidence in himself and work through prevalent issues that face kids and young adults alike, not excluding love and loss. The songs are so well written, catchy, and of course include the classic musical theatre uplifting tune to close Act I, called You Will Be Found.


I hope you gain some inspiration and meaning from the glimpse at what I’ve been listening to lately! There is exponentially more, and I would love to hear what gets your heart beating and blood pumping.

Best,

Aly

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What Story Are You Telling?

News headlines, political controversy, and current events can weaken us to the core.  And sure, there’s more than enough negativity to break us.  But there’s also an incredible amount of beauty and inspiration bubbling up around and within us that needs to be shared.  

And to positively move forward, we must create new normals.  We must shift our ways of thinking, seeing, and doing.  We must embrace the world around us, not to become worldly for worldliness' sake, but instead to become part of its story.  

We must tell new stories.  
Better stories.  
Beautiful stories.  
Stories that resonate.  
Stories that inspire.

How?

First, expect beauty.  Move from a place where beauty is only captured in art museums, ocean side vacations, or photoshopped everything.  Instead, start noticing the richness of color, texture, depth, creation, conversation, uniqueness, and love.  When we do that, everything begins to change around us.  We can expect to be surrounded by fragments of beauty each and every day.  And once we’ve seen that amazing beauty already surrounds us, we can’t help but be transformed.

Second, revel in it.  When we see beauty, capture it, breathe it, draw it, write it, and fully immerse yourself in it.  We must do  whatever we can to experience the beauty we've found ourselves in.

Third, make it our story.  The story of beauty needs telling, and retelling, and retelling again.  Because in the story of beauty, is a story of creation, creativity, humanity, and love.  When we experience beauty, we must be confident in the promise that, "It is good."  And in the goodness of this new found beauty, may we make it our own story to tell.

Peace,
Ross Donaldson

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My name is Ross Donaldson.  I'm a worship leader here at The Gathering.  I'm also a songwriter, author, creative consultant, and recently founded my first startup, Sunstation USA.

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