Month: December 2012

My Favorite Albums of 2012

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I know I did, and it’s not done yet. I’ll see more family tomorrow and Saturday which is nice. I like extending Christmas for almost a week.

Still, it is the time where most people transition from thinking about Christmas to celebrating the new year by reflecting on the year passed. In that spirit, I present to you my favorite albums of 2012:

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Teaching on December 17, 2012

For anyone who doesn’t know, when I’m not making music, I substitute teach in Nashville elementary schools. I genuinely love it, and have thought several times of going into teaching full time. I’m not sure that will ever happen, but I still love subbing.

Friday I was not teaching, and got the news while I was eating lunch. As someone who spends a lot of time at elementary schools (and just as a human being), I was of course saddened and horrified. I had planned on keeping my thoughts to myself regarding the whole event. I don’t want to just be another voice in the crowd.

Yesterday, I was happy to be subbing at my favorite school. When I walked in the door, a parent informed me a prayer vigil was about to start for the Sandy Hook victims. As it began, a 4th grade student prayed for the everyone who was killed Friday by name, including the attacker. I was blown away by the grace a 9 year old girl could show, and just how well she understood what happened. I hurt to see a girl I’ve watched grow from a 2nd grader coming to terms with the world she was growing up in.

When I made my way to my classroom, I found out the teacher I was subbing for had been instructed to come in for a few minutes in the morning talk to her students (at their appropriate level) about what took place at Sandy Hook. Grateful it wasn’t me having to lead this discussion, I sat and listened.

What followed was one of the most difficult scenes I have ever witnessed.

With calm and warmth, the teacher explained a man had broken into a school far away from Nashville, and he harmed some people. Then, after some explaining of things we could do at the school to stay safe, she took questions.

“What exactly did the man do?” a little girl asked.

How this teacher managed to answer the question, I’ll never know. She was able to tell the truth without terrifying children.

She then had to ask them if they were afraid of anything she had just talked about. This was the part that really got me. Every kid raised their hand and shared. Answers ranged from “thunderstorms” from a kid who obviously wasn’t paying attention, to the profoundly sad and yet funny “I’m afraid someone would come do that here and I would die young.”

When I look at the faces of those kids from Connecticut, I see my own sweet, funny students who I’ve grown to love over the last few years. I think about the funny comments their parents won’t get to hear anymore. No more artwork for the refrigerator. No more hugs or excited giggles. It breaks my heart.

It’s so tragic to me the Christmas season will forever be marred for these families. However, I am thankful for the reminders right now of God coming down into this broken world to redeem it. I’m thankful to be surrounded by the hope that this season brings.

Come soon Lord Jesus.

Introducing Embracing the Mess

For a few weeks now, I’ve been posting on this blog in secret. It’s been an experiment to see if this is something that I really want to do, or I feel it is a good fit for me before I started sharing with the world.

But the time has come to release the blog into the wild. If I’m not going to share it, I may as well just write in a journal. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s ok if I don’t keep a perfect schedule. This is about sharing my story, and hopefully having fun.

You may have a few questions about the blog, and I hope to answer them now:

What is Embracing the Mess?
My opening post here gives some details on what the blog is all about and why I’m doing it.

Don’t You Already Have a Blog at craigmcclellan.com?
I do, but to me, it didn’t really work. That website is for my business as a musician. I was blogging there twice a week, but it was difficult consistently creating content that worked for a business site. I am no expert in music. I’m just a guy following his dream, and working hard. It didn’t seem like I had anything useful to contribute to the conversation as a musician. Yet I didn’t want to post personal things there either. Eventually, that blog just became occasional updates on what I’m doing musically. This will be a place where I can tell my story.

How often will you post?
The goal is currently to do 2 posts a week. However, I’m not going to stress myself out over it. This is a hobby for me, not something I am pursuing to advance my career or make a lot of money.

Hopefully each week I’ll write one more serious post, and one more fun post.

I’ve already got 3 posts up on this new blog. Please go check them out, and come back soon.

The Album that Wrecked Me

One of the things I hope to do on this blog is to, on occasion, share music I love.

Today I want introduce you to a record that is easily in the top 5 most influential albums in my life –not necessarily my all-time favorite records, but records that have had a large impact on me either as a musician or as a person.

Andrew Peterson’s “Light for the Lost Boy” is the latter.

This record is about the loss of innocence and coming to terms with the fall of man. While this may seem sad, it takes a beautiful and biblical perspective.

I’ve had a relatively comfortable/easy life. I grew up in the middle class suburbs. Went to church. Never really got into trouble. Never had any real bad things happen to me. I think along the way, it built up a lot of pride in me, as well an inaccurate view of the world.

This year has been an incredibly difficult year. So when it came around, my world was turned upside down. I came face to face with the fall, and the limits of my ability to do anything about it. It was devastating.

In September, I purchased “Light for the Lost Boy” on its release day. I listened to it as I ran errands all day, and by the time it was finished, I was sobbing in my driveway.

The opening track “Come Back Soon,” is a plea for Jesus to return and deliver us from the pain of this world. Its delicate acoustic guitar and piano parts starkly contrast with intense drums and distorted electric guitars to create a sound that matches the tension of the lyric.

The final song, “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone,” is a 10-minute epic that feels like a throwback to Toto. Yet the lyrics speak of thanking God for who he is, in spite of the fall. The line that gets me the most says:

“Cause every little boy grows up
And he’s haunted by the heart that died
Longing for the world that was
Before the fall
Oh but then forgiveness comes
It’s a grace that I cannot resist
And I just want to thank someone
Don’t you want to thank someone for this”

This is the kind of perspective I long to have. I long to be so drawn to grace that I don’t try to hold onto and fix everything. To acknowledge how limited I am, and that a limitless God will come and redeem everything one day. To long for that day instead of being overwhelmed by the day I’m facing now.

This is a beautiful record, both musically and lyrically. If you are wired like I am, then I pray you would find some comfort and truth in this record the way I have.

You can listen to “Come Back Soon” here:

You can purchase Light for the Lost Boy onĀ iTunes as well as from rabbitroom.com.