Thursday night, I put on makeup and a fancy dress and walked into a ballroom with 450 co-laborers in the fight against HIV/AIDS to celebrate Blood:Water’s annual Red Tie Gala — a night dedicated to advancing the fight to end the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. I went into the night with a heavy heart but left with deep gladness. You see, a year ago I lost a dear friend named Joseph to a secret he had kept hidden from everyone close to him.
When I lived in Nashville, I spent one Thursday night a month wrapped up in a good book with some close friends. It was a night I looked forward to every month. I loved being part of a book club. That's why I am so excited to announce Blood:Water is launching its own book club!
I told you a couple weeks ago, Blood:Water surprised me with something wonderful to honor the release of my memoir, "One Thousand Wells." They secretly began a campaign to build raintanks at two different schools to bring 800 kids in Kenya access to clean water. They called it 1000:1000 — One Thousand Hours for "One Thousand Wells."
When I first ventured out with Jars of Clay to bring 1,000 wells to communities across Africa, it felt like an audacious, unattainable goal. But by the grace of God, we reached our goal. It shifted slightly to meet the needs of specific communities — sometimes a raintank was of more value than a well. In the end 1,000 communities had access to safe, clean water.
Now I can’t help but ask myself, what’s my next audacious goal? With where I am in life, I find that question hard to answer. Does it have to do with motherhood? Does it have to do with my move to California? Does it have to do with another 1,000 communities. My head hasn’t quite wrapped around it. So I’d love to hear your audacious goals.
Blood:Water is launching a social campaign to hear that exact same thing from you. It’s called #my1000wells. Here are a few samples we have received so far:
So comment below and post about your audacious goals on social media. Be sure to use #my1000wells. Let’s reach our #my1000wells together.
Even Dan Haseltine's dog, Grace, has a goal:
I’ve flown out of Nashville hundreds of times before, but this flight was different for so many reasons. It was a true departure without a return. A one way ticket to the next wild and uncertain season of my life. (In case you read last week’s “Bookends” post, this is the second bookend I was referencing).
Though it's only been a couple of months that we've known that the Bay Area would be our next stop, James and I have know for the last year that something was brewing inside of us, which might necessitate a move out of Nashville. I just can’t quite believe we are actually doing this.
During the first days of Blood:Water, Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven University, asked if we would rather be a motorboat or a sailboat. A motorboat gets you to your destination quickly but doesn’t require much skill. A sailboat requires teamwork to operate and sometimes you have to be willing to change direction or make other adjustments to find the wind.
That’s how I believe we are supposed to move in our personal lives, as well. We must remain fully surrendered to where the wind will take us, not where we want to force it. Sometimes the patterns of our sailboat don’t make sense; sometimes it feels like there is no wind at all. And sometimes the wind carries us somewhere we never saw coming. But if we fully surrender to and trust the wind, we are sailing exactly where we should be. That doesn’t mean we let go of the mast and say, “Good luck, hope we don’t capsize.” It means we work the boat and sail into the direction into which we are led.
After a lot of prayer and hard conversations, James, Jude, and I are setting sail to northern California. I have never been more grateful for living in a day and age where technology allows me to telecommute. I will still be involved in Blood:Water, visiting Nashville and Africa often, all the while promoting my memoir. But my day-to-day work will be done in The Golden State. James has accepted the principal role at the Skoll Foundation in Palo Alto. The job will (should be) less demanding than what he’s been leading over the last six years. The pace we have been running is simply unsustainable if we want to be healthy and present for each other and for our son. We need to catch our breath.
The leaving is not out of an inherent desire to leave. It is out of a hope that a new location in proximity to family, to the beautiful outdoors, and to occupations that won’t occupy the whole of us will help us build and develop the muscles of a whole person that have atrophied over the years. That our marriage can find its way back to adventure and romance amid the diapers and the logistics of toddlerhood. That to take some of the edge off 24/7 responsibilities and 100+ days of travel a year will help sustain us through this season so we can come out of it full and ready to take on the next big, audacious goal. That somehow we rest, even if just for a season.
That way when the wind blows again, we are ready to surrender and follow.
P.S. I'm sure I'll will be posting more about this transition and our new life in California. Stay tuned.
Some life seasons are short, some long. Some seasons in life are smooth, others rocky. Some seasons simply fade into the next season without us really ever noticing. And some seasons have bookends — they end the way they started. That’s where I find myself today about to put the bookend on two big seasons.
More than 10 years ago, the Blood:Water journey began on a tour bus with Jars of Clay. I, the only girl, climbed aboard to a bus load of musicians into a world I knew nothing about. I cherish those memories.
Tomorrow wraps up 20-day journey across the country touring for my new memoir, “One Thousand Wells.” This time, only one of those musicians was with me - Dan Haseltine, the lead singer of Jars of Clay and Blood:Water co-founder. He and our two Blood:Water colleagues, Audrey and Kristin, piled into a beat up, maroon minivan with me — and hit the road to tour. With maintenance lights shining bright and dents edging the sides, the minivan was a far cry from the tour bus days of 10 years ago. But as Dan drove, I sat in the passenger seat driving next to a friend of 10+ years who has carried a vision into the world that only he could see and launch out.
As we traveled from Knoxville, Tenn., through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Charlotte, N.C., I looked out toward the landscape and soaked in the views and the memories of the last decade. With Spotify as a chest of sounds and memories, I was somehow inspired to open the door to the Jars of Clay discography - and I indulged, with Dan by my side, in the lyrics and songs that had served as the most consistent soundtrack of my life. For an hour, or maybe two, I picked songs from the annals of the Jars of Clay library and played through the ones that mattered most to me. “Redemption,” “Faith Enough,” “This Road,” “Water Under the Bridge,” “Light Gives Heat,” “Waiting for the World to Fall” — whatever the song — it brought me back to a particular moment, to a feeling that had somehow shaped me. And, I got to tell Dan as much. He, too, hadn’t heard many of these songs in years and heard them with new ears.
I felt such gratitude for an artist who had given me words and music to live by from 12 to 32, whose vision was big enough to let a 22 year old to take hold of it and opened the door of his platform, relationships, and dreams to let me in.
A few days later when we drove back to Nashville late after an event in Atlanta, Dan and I sang through an endless stream of songs - this time through albums of the Indigo Girls - which happen to both be favorites of ours, despite how different our life stages were when the songs were released. We duetted our way home, which was both hilarious and sweet.
Jars of Clay songs made way for the Blood:Water story. And through this 20-day journey Jars of Clay songs have ushered me into the new season of book touring. That’s bookend number one. As for bookend number two, that’s a post for another day, one I promise to share.
By the way, Dan wrote a guest post for my blog on what it has been like touring with me (he references our road trip music habits, too). If you haven’t read it, click here.
Thank you to everyone who has joined me at bookstores and coffee shops across the country these past 20 days. I am honored to have met each and every one of you.
This is my second book tour, third if I count having Donald Miller as a guest opening up for Jars of Clay. I should say that there is something I can't quite put my finger on about people who commit to an evening at a bookstore listening to an author read excerpts of personal writing and talking about themselves. That may have sounded negative... this "something" is a positive sort of "something."