Encouragement

I was informed at our show last weekend that I have been a bad blogger. Upon hearing this two thoughts came to mind: 1. Wow, someone reads this blog. 2. I’m sorry.

With those two thoughts in mind, I’ve decided to blog today. If I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I struggle to find something interesting to write. Today I asked Tyler what I should write about and he simply said, “encouragement.” It seems like a good place to start.

When we started playing music together back in 2005 we were teenagers writing fairly bad songs (we thought they were great at the time). As our music progressed we found ourselves asking a very important question, “Should we write music that obviously reflects our faith and would be labeled as ‘Christian music’ or should we allow our music to be influenced by our faith without coming right out and saying words like ‘Jesus’ or ‘God.'” We really wrestled with these questions. We didn’t want to be boxed up or labeled. But I think people like labels and will label you regardless of what you do.

For a while we were very intentional about writing music that wouldn’t be labeled as “Christian.” We really wanted our music to be accessible to everyone and while we certainly wrote songs inspired by our relationship with God, we didn’t really want that relationship to be at the forefront of the songs. I think that is often a good place for musicians to be, but I don’t think it was the right place for us. The songs lacked a bit of sincerity. We were so focused on what we didn’t want to say that we lost sight of what we really wanted to communicate. I think that the songs were a bit confusing really.

When we were writing for Faint Not we decided to write songs that reflected what we were going through, both in our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. It’s not that our previous work didn’t reflect our relationship with God, but I think we approached Faint Not with a slightly different motto: write what you write. Don’t try to change it, or box it up, or label it. Just write. It was very liberating, and I think that Faint Not was truly a step forward. I think we found ourselves as songwriters and musicians.

When we were writing for our latest release, Open Your Doors, we took the same approach. We decided to be as genuine and honest as possible in our songwriting. We hoped to create really beautiful art, and we wanted it to be directly from our hearts. In some ways Open Your Doors feels like it came straight from our journals. And I really like it that way.

Through all of this we’ve put our finger on what our purpose is as musicians. We feel that we’re called to write for the church and encourage believers. That’s not to say that we don’t hope to attract people who don’t believe. We do desire to point people to Christ – whether they know him our not. But we’ve found ourselves in a place that we initially ran away from – communicating the gospel in an explicit way.

And through our call to encourage we’ve found ourselves receiving so much in return. We pour out a bit of ourselves every night at shows and find our souls full again after talking with many of you after our performance. Last night a woman told us that the show had “changed her.” She said that she was recovering from a divorce and felt like she could never be loved again until she sat at the show and let the Lord fill her through our music. It was beautiful. We received a letter from a young lady who took 5 sleeping pills one night and was planning to take more when she heard our song Carry Me playing through her Ipod headphones. She said that the words of the Lord, “I have never left you, nor will I ever leave, child believe, child believe.” made her want to live. And we’ve heard so many stories like these from so many of you. What an encouragement!

It’s such a privilege to play music. We truly feel like the Lord inspires and gives us songs, and it’s an incredible joy to see Him working through the songs to change people and mend their hearts. And to think we tried to distance ourselves from making distinctively gospel centered music a few years ago. The Lord is taking us on an amazing journey and changing us so much. I feel honored having watched my husband grow from the 19 year old boy I met back in college to a man of great integrity, faith, and character.

Praise the Lord for his goodness and grace. And thank you for being a part of our journey.

Little Balloon Caption Contest!

Friends! We are so excited to tell you about our Little Balloon Caption Contest. We know that many of you are creative and want to give you the opportunity to put those talents to good use. And you can win prizes too!

Here are the details:

How to enter:

1. Take a screen shot of a moment in the Little Balloon video and write a caption. Imagine yourself as the balloon. What are you thinking? If you could talk, what would you say? Be creative. Your caption can be funny, witty, thought-provoking, emotional, etc.

You can check out a couple examples over at our Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/jtlittleballoon

2. Share the Little Balloon music video with a friend on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Take a screen shot of the post, pin, or tweet.

3. Send the screen shots and caption to: jtballooncontest@gmail.com. Allow up to 12 hours for us to approve your photo and caption. We will upload it to a special photo album on our Jenny & Tyler Facebook page and send you a direct link to your photo and caption.

We will post the caption and video screen shot in an album on the Jenny & Tyler Facebook page. Users that like our page will vote for their favorite photo and caption  by clicking the “like” button next to the photo. You can like as many captions as you please. You can use the direct link to your photo and caption to encourage your friends to vote for you! There will be two winners: the photo with the most likes and our personal favorite.

Win a Little Ballon Party! This includes:

1. One dozen cupcakes from Sweet & Sassy Cupcakes in Newark, DE. Newark is our hometown and Sweet & Sassy makes our favorite cupcakes! The cupcakes will be shipped to your home (US only).

2. A 30-minute Skype concert with us! We will set up a Skype date for you and as many friends as you please. You make the set list.

3. An autographed copy of Open Your Doors.

4. A pack of little red balloons.

We are so excited to read your captions! The contest runs from today through June 20th. We will announce the winners on June 22nd.

Visit the official contest site here: http://www.jennyandtylermusic.com/balloon/ Happy captioning!

Weekend update and our CMT experience.

Good morning! We just returned from a weekend of shows in DE, MD, and NJ. What an amazing time we had! It’s always fun to see family, but the shows were ridiculously fun too. We had the privilege of opening for Matt Maher in DE and I was so encouraged by him. Honestly, I’ve been a bit critical when it comes to CCM radio and the industry in general. I’ve complained a lot about how it’s so driven by worship songs (as in songs for congregational worship rather than storytelling or songs with metaphors) that sound the same. I’ve also complained about Christian radio and how it’s so geared towards one specific demographic – women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. But being at the concert really opened my eyes to why this sort of music is important. It really does minister to people. Matt Maher was incredibly humble and gracious to us and he was very genuine in his interaction with the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed it. While I do wish there was more room in Christian radio for singers-songwriters like Sandra McCracken and bands like Gungor, I think I have a better appreciation for some of the popular, radio friendly music out there.

Here are a few photos from our trip:

Packing the night before. Don’t worry there are socks in there, nothing more.

 

 

 

In flight reading:

 

 

A rainy day in Newark, DE where we met:

 

 

Matt Maher in Greenwood, DE:

 

 

Sparta, NJ:

 

 

Beauty in NJ:

 

 

Bakery in NJ:

 

 

 

So good.

In other news, Tyler and I attended the CMT Awards last night. CMT stands for Country Music Television. My mom is in town and has a friend who gave us free tickets so we said, “why not?” It was definitely one of the most interesting experiences we’ve had in a while. The theme of the night was drinking beer. A guy who won for one of the categories threw his camouflage underwear into the crowd, and Kenny Chesney premiered a music video that was essentially a steamy sex scene between him and girl half his age. So bizarre. One of the funniest moments happened at the beginning of the night. An opening segment (pre-recorded) included President Obama and Mitt Romney voting for who should host the show. When President Obama was on the screen no one cheered. Seriously, not a single person. Mitt Romney appeared and the crowd erupted in applause. I don’t want to get into politics here, but I literally laughed out loud in that moment. So many stereotypes about country music were affirmed last night. I will say that there were some great performances and that from what I could tell every artist was singing live and did a great job. And seriously, when will we go to an awards show again? It was a great cultural experience.

Here I am with my mom before the show. She’s so pretty:

 

 

Abe Lincoln?

 

 

With Tyler before the show. We had great seats!

 

 

Well there you have it.