I started this blog four years ago after I graduated college. I was in the midst of big, hard change. I was moving to a new city, redefining my community, starting a new job, and to top it all of, I was asking people for money so I could do what I felt like the Lord was calling me to do. At the same time, I was mentoring a high school student named Karianne Larson, who four years later would be in a very similar position to me. The only difference is that Karianne is much wiser, much more joyful, and much more adventurous than I was four years ago. Oh, and much more talented. I am beyond excited to have her share her new adventure with you on the blog today, and what she's learning in the midst of it. I hope you learn a little something too and leave this page excited to take more risks.
My favorite place to perform is on the street. I love that people have the option to stay and listen as long as they want, or pass on by. I love that it provides an opportunity for people to be generous. I love watching kids break in to smile and dance.I love seeing strangers sing along to songs they know. The street allows for interaction, connection, and an opportunity to sing and dance and invite others to do the same.
A few months ago I was in Berkeley and had some time to perform. I borrowed a pizza box and a marker and on a whim decided to write, “GIVE IF YOU HAVE PLENTY, TAKE IF YOU HAVE NEED.”
My favorite part of the day was when I was forced to realize how judgmental I can be. An obviously homeless woman on crutches was walking toward the sign and I thought to myself, “Yes! I am doing such a good thing! She’s going to take money and have a need met.” I was excited that the experiment was going to work both ways, with people giving and taking. I watched her approach the sign and was immediately humbled. Instead of taking money like I assumed, the woman dropped a handful of change on the plate. I was so taken aback by her generosity, her selflessness, how she exposed the judgment in my own heart about who I believe to have “plenty” and “need” and how we don’t get to decide that for others, but only for ourselves.
My favorite thing about the sign is it causes people to ask themselves:
“Do I have plenty, or am I in need?”
The truth is we are both, all the time, and what we have to offer and what we need varies season to season.
(To read more about what I learned you can click here.)
Right now I am in a season of need, specifically financially. Almost all of my friends have started careers—working for fancy companies, doing what one would expect of someone with a college degree. In contrast, I am working on an extensive Spotify playlist to have my producer listen to, to provide direction for how I want my songs to sound. I am a songwriter, who just moved to Nashville, and I am making an album! I have no job lined up, other than to make music that brings Life and Goodness to people. CS Lewis said it best when He said, “We are the most ourselves when we think the least about ourselves.” One of main objectives with moving is to help others in their endeavors, whatever that looks like.
Making and marketing quality music is a full time job, so I’m crowdfunding my album...which essentially means I’m asking for money. It’s a humbling task, and through it I've realized that when someone gives you money, that’s not all they are giving you.
When someone sacrifices their own money on behalf of something or someone else, they are declaring, “I support this. This is important. This is a good thing.” There are limitless options of what we can spend money on, and what you spend your treasure on, you consequently invest your heart in it to.
People have been so generously giving me money (primarily through Kickstarter), but what I've received is not only the financial support, but also the heart behind it. People pledge money, and I take in encouragement, support, and a sense that I can actually do this.
When I went into the studio to record today, I brought with me an overflowing “account" of encouragement—the mental peace that there are hundreds of people who believe I should be making music. I have to believe that changes how I sing, how I create.
So I encourage you. Give your money to something. Find something you support and believe in and throw a few dollars toward it. It isn’t a strictly financial transaction—someone on the receiving end of your gift will know you believe in their cause.
As someone who prefers to give (because you have control) rather than receive (because it is humbling and awkward), I encourage all of us to become better at both.