Some pictures from Johan
I've made it to Tokyo next stop Chicago. What is this thing called sleep. Johan shared some of his pictures with us. Glad he was there to document. He still needs some help with photoshop as I still looked bald and the camera puts on 30 pounds on me. LOL
Day 14 & 15
Travel days! Got up at 9:00 am flew from Bali to Jakarta. Long lay over and will fly to Japan, then Chicago, then Detroit! My amazing friend Steve will be picking me up. He also has made this trip possible by being Mia's caretaker while I was gone. She'll be mad when I get home but not as mad as if Steve and fam didn't stop by to give her love. Thanks you guys.
Said good bye to as Johan called us the legendary trio! LOL Such a great time and will do some more reflections soon!
I have made it to Tokyo. Found this reading lounge and I know Talia would have loved that!
We closed our trip with a great day of food and fellowship and a set at the Ritz Carlton. The travel days begin! I will reflect on this amazing tour in hours or days to come based on internet access. LOL All non selfie pictures that I'm involved in either group pictures or pictures where I'm playing are by are documentarian for the trip Johan Sung. A great artist in his own right. Thank you Johan!
Johan and I got up at 3 am to travel to Lahangan Sweet Viewpoint of Mount Agung. The best time to see it is at sunrise. it was a 2 hour drive from where we are. I was doing good although I barely slept, but man the road nearing it is so curvy I was getting motion sickness. I've only had that once before when I was driving on HWY 1 north of SF. I ended up on the Golden State Bridge and didn't know it because the whole way was fog. Anyways.... it was very reminiscent of that but I made it. Then Johan and I had to hike up a very steep path which was really muddy. We had the option of a jeep ride but it struggled as much as me. LOL All of it well worth the wait. Just one of those things I keep repeating here pictures don't do it justice. It was so beautiful and pleasant up there. We stopped at a few places on the way home that were also beautiful I had McDonalds for the first time and got an apple pie which like most places in the world except the USA, they are still deep fried. LOL I did make a video for my friend Khristen. He said I honored him well! Lol we concluded the evening sitting in at to Goro Goro Kitchen! I will miss Bali. Things are winding down. The hospitality of Denny and family have been incredible. It will be nice to get home to Mia but not the snow and taxes lol
Days 9-11 I think LOL
I've been having such a good time in Bali. Very humid but no complaints no snow, it's usually around 87 and humid. Denny and family have been feeding us constantly and it's all good! We have been doing some recording with local musicians and some workshops with students and have loved meeting all of them. Traffic is absolutely nuts yet (little less then Bali) Drummers bring their sets on their motorbikes which is the fastest way to get around. Continue to count my blessings!
Day 7 & 8
Today Denny took us to some incredible spots. His and his family's hospitality have been off the charts. The first place he took us was his new music store. I've been in a lot of music stores but as he explained rational behind the why's of everything he did, I continued to fall more and more in love with his store. So much of what I've dreamed about he was doing with this store. It was the same feeling I had visiting D'jazz. So many dreams I saw realized in these two places. Very cool! After we spent some time at his store we went to the beach. It was incredible beauty and all my pictures very much pail in comparison to the reality of my eyes. My first glimpse was actually seemed like a slice of heaven and immediately thought of Talia and thought how much she would love this and thought maybe she is and that made me really happy. It was so relaxing and the people were so nice and the food was really good. It was hard to leave. we then made a quick trip to this famous statue and then off to see this authentic dance. But the views from this spot were unbelievable. We also got to see the two planets which I was bummed I missed back home so happy to see them here. Then there were the monkeys. Oh my! lol I had read about monkeys in some of the other countries but when I cut my trip short I thought that was the end. Well I saw most likely 100 of them. You think you are out of the way and then you find you are not. I did not have any issues but many others did. One almost ran over my foot but that was it. Anyways it was cool to see them but I don't really need to do that again! LOL We didn't go to see them, they just live there! It was so kind of Denny to show us around today! Driving still nuts but not as bad as Jakarta although we did see the results of a pretty bad accident. Great day! Day 8 all we did was eat then ate some more! LOL Thank you Lord for meeting so many amazing people and seeing your beautiful creation!
We went to a different part of Jakarta today and I had a really great day working with the students there. A lot of special moments. Their ensembles performed for us, and Lisa, Tom, and I would take turns giving brief comments. I had to get my old band director hat on, but was just like getting on a bike! LOL They had a choir/recorder class that learned my favorite things and then sang a blues for us. Then a band, jazz band, orchestra, and traditional instrument class that all performed for us. Then we played for them, and it seemed like the right setting to do what I call for cheap applause play drums and trumpet at the same time. I always apologize to the rest of the members of the band first because I have not mastered it yet but the kids loved it. LOL We were given a great lunch and then went and played for some 6th graders and they were so energetic with us. We really fed off that. I got some kids up to scat sing and then picked one student to do a little thing I do with question and answer (that I think I learned with Wess) and her name was Siena which is the name of a tune Tom wrote. He told the story behind it which has to do with the town I think he proposed to his wife in remotely, (ask him for the story) but as he told it and the romance behind it the girls all were oohing lol We were not going to do that tune but decided to do it for her then Tom gave her the piece of music and she was crying , then we were crying, lol it was just a lot of fun. Then we quick went to the classroom of one of Lisa's former students from Calvin, and did a quick question and answer with the kids and learned the world is smaller sometimes and people and kids are more alike than we think. One of the students who was very talented and played violin and actually arranged the orchestra arrangement they played for us was asking about careers in music and all the insecurities that come with that and I was like hmmm just like in America. She was very sweet. Then we went to one of Lisa's friends house from NJ now working at this school. She was very kind and we all tried some charcoal ice cream that was great. Then headed to the airport and got into Bali! We've been waiting for a segment that CNN Indonesia did on Lisa but there was a big fire and a fuel dispensary that was breaking news. But after our day today it randomly came on as I was getting ready for bed so quick got my phone and video as much as I could. So that is the still picture.
Sure Day 4 lol kind of 5
We spent the day today at D'Jazz Indonesia. They have been so hospitable. I could relate to our guides because they basically treated me like I tried to treat all our guests at MSU. Everyone was so kind! Had a really fun workshop and concert. Played with some of the kids here and they really can play. So encouraging. The space here at D'Jazz is incredible and they have such a beautiful heart and mission. The musicians that joined us the last couple of days were so great both personally and musically. Traffic is still nuts! LOL Lisa won't even sit in the front seat. It's really nuts. Mama Lisa got us all Korean food today. I think Tom said he stopped counting after he saw 70 dishes on the table. LOL It was great! Thank you Lisa! Tom and I are having a lot of laughs. Meeting all kinds of fun and kind folk. Lisa was interviewed by CNN Indonesia. I've had fun getting to know one of Lisa's sons more who is doing a great job documenting the tour. The brownie was my breakfast at my normal 4:30 am wake up call but I'll leave that there. LOL About to go teach for the day and then off to fly to Bali tonight.
We'll call it Day 3
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. I'm so tired! LOL Pretty relaxing day. Had our first musical experience in Indonesia tonight. We met and shared the stage with Eliezer Robby and Dion Janaparia. Both very good musicians and both very nice. They came prepared and learned all the music mostly originals and arrangements by Lisa. Jazz really is the universal language! The hospitality by Soundtrip and D'Jazz has been just great! Thank you so much! Thank you Lisa and Tom for letting me be a part of this one in a lifetime adventure! Going to bed! More to come! LOL
Day 1 and 2 or is it 3 LOL
It's very weird when traveling to SE Asia and you really loose a day going here and you leave and get back the same time you left. I left Lansing via my friend Chuck Roberts and he drove me to Grand Rapids at 8:30 am. I got to Lisa's house and we drove to Kalamazoo to pick up Tom. Then we drove to Chicago. Check in was a little more difficult than I had hoped but it all worked. We left at 4:30 pm from Chicago and got into Tokyo it was a 13 hour flight. We did a quick passport control and security check and had about 3 hours. Tried to find food but really no options. Then got on the plane to Jakarta and that was another 7 hours. I don't really sleep on planes so I've been up for quite awhile but gave me a lot of time to ponder life. LOL I was so blessed that I was able to get window seats like I like and no middle seat. So travel was as comfortable as it was going to get for these long flights. I stress about stuff like this but if there is one thing I continue to learn from Talia is she was always telling me to just trust God and it'll work out. She was right. Miss her so much yet but kind of feel so much of her in my spirit if that makes sense and I may be kind of off on that but I feel I'm doing a lot of her mannerisms and sayings etc.. The people from D'Jazz in Jakarta have been so hospitable and made customs and entry so easy. It was so nice!!! Thank you to Dennis and Steven whom I've met today. Tom, Lisa, and I are having great fellowship and eating good food in our first day. We are 12 hours different then USA.
I have learned Dad had to go back in the hospital so continuing to lift him up and again thank you all so much for all the love you have shown. That in itself is overwhelming! I am indeed blessed.
I'll comment on pictures here because it's easy than in the gallery. We took off out of Chicago. They had 2 cameras you could look at from the plane one out the front and one that looked at the bottom. That was kind of cool. My window was pretty dirty and made it difficult to take pictures because as I zoomed it was focus on the dirt on the window! LOL But I got a few. So in the distance is Chicago in one pict. I think the next one may be like Green Bay, I'm not sure. We had a sunset for literally like 7 hours. As we just kept heading NW we just kept chasing the sun. That was fun. I was so enthralled with Alaska as you can see! LOL I thought maybe this is Narnia! LOL Then the next is pictures from Tokyo which was much different flying in then the last time I was here because I was at the other airport and you see the city more on this one and being here once before now I knew what to look for. Although both times I have not seen Mt. Fuji which I really want to see. Lisa got us this incredible sponge cake in the airport. As is always the case I can't ever get pictures of the moon. But it was really cool and red as you can see. I was looking at the map and just thinking how many wars have been fought in this reason to me. I was able to get a quick picture of Manila but the rest of the time it was dark or raining on the way to Jakarta. Next is our first few moments in Jakarta and meeting Dennis who was so nice. The traffic here is unlike anything I've ever seen. Not just because of the busyness but the lack of rules. Every 2 seconds I think someone is going to get hit on a motorbike. There are so many people that based on your license plate beginning odd or even you can't get on the express way at rush hour on that day then it switches to the next day. unreal. I can see food is going to be a great part of the trip. Next is our hotel.
I had to take a picture of this too. The plane had a messaging system that you could type on the screen to another person on the plane. Talia was always so private and if we would travel, even if she was standing next to me, she would text me so nobody could hear what she would say. Even at the house she would whisper in the summer to me if the windows were open so the neighbors couldn't hear us. That was my Talia so I immediately thought of her when I saw this messaging thing because I know for a fact she would be typing everything to me. LOL
Now for the really funny part. Not everyone takes visa so they said it would be good to have a little cash on hand. So I went to the atm and I knew the conversion rate was nuts but I ended up getting out 100.000 Rupiah. I was like this has to be enough and man I'm feeling like the richest man in the world. When I got back to the van, they asked me how much I got out and I told them 100.000 and they were cracking up so hard. After I looked at my fees and stuff I basically had gotten out like $6 that's right pretty much $6=100,000. So it's hilarious to look at like gas prices and what a bottle of water costs, etc.. yes, I'd like that steak for 400,000 dollars. LOL
Pastor Bill on grief
This is an article in the latest edition of Charisma Magazine by one of my main spiritual inspirations today. Pastor Bill lost his wife about a month after Talia went home. He has been a constant inspiration and I have followed so much of what he discusses here.
The Healing Power of Griefby Bill Johnson | Jan 5, 2023 | Jan-Feb 2023, Magazine Newsletter
Beni, my wife of 49 years, died on July 13 of last year. She was the love of my life. We started dating when she was 16 and I was 19. We married two years later. I am a better person in every way because she was in my life. Together we have three children with three amazing spouses, and 11 grandchildren. Philippians 4:8 says to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy. For years I’ve told people that if I had a challenge in my thought life, all I had to do was think about my wife—because she was all of those things. It’s true. In this season, God is teaching me much about how He uses grief to heal and comfort us as He draws us closer to Himself.
Beni died after a long battle with cancer. For the last 15 months or so, I was by her side day after day. Cancer is a disease that we see healed regularly. And while she is now forever with Jesus, perfectly well, never to die again, those of us who remain are still facing pain, confusion and tremendous loss.
Pretending all is well when it isn’t doesn’t help. I must anchor my soul to who He is and what He has promised. Otherwise, I will spend my days wandering without a sense of purpose, never settling into why I am alive. Who He is remains the foundation of my life.
Many family members gathered around her bed in prayer and worship on that final day. It had been our practice for hours on end. When she breathed her last, we worshipped. We had the distinct privilege to walk with someone into their eternal reward. It changes you, in the measure you see it.
I lay next to her in the bed. My first instinct was to raise my hands and my face to the Lord and give Him thanks for His goodness. He is the one who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases. We weren’t pretending in an effort to appear spiritual. It was an offering. We were the offering.
Facing the Inevitable
You might say, “But she wasn’t healed!” That’s true. But my experience, or the lack thereof, can never be allowed to redefine who He is or what He has promised. His Word stands supreme over my experience. Besides, no matter the situation, the lack is never on His end of the equation.
I learned the beauty of this many years ago when my dad died. I had questions, pain, confusion and an overall struggle with my faith. Then I realized that if I captured this moment, with all its pain and confusion, I could give Jesus a priceless gift. There is no pain in eternity. Neither is there confusion or regret, and He wipes all tears away. That means if I can give Him praise in the middle of this mystery, I will have given Him something I will never have a chance to give Him in heaven.
It’s true that I will be a worshipper forever. Throughout eternity, I will bow before the Lamb of God and declare His greatness. But I only have the chance to give Him praise in the midst of pain in this life.
Picture with me for a moment that my sacrifice of praise was like incense. I was bringing the pain, confusion, regret and the like into the offering so it would add flavor to what I was giving Him.
Such flavors are a stench to me. But offered to Him, they become a sweet-smelling offering, expressions of a surrendered heart and mind. Since there will be no pain or loss in heaven, I am giving Him a gift here and now that costs me something. True sacrifices cost.
I have nothing to prove, yet everything to give. My goal is not to be strong. It is to be faithful—faithful to who He is and therefore, to the person He has made me to be.
Pain, loss and disappointment are unavoidable in this life. If that weren’t true, there would be no reason for verses such as, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28, NASB). This beautiful promise helps us to see that the master chef is able to take the worst parts of our lives and work them into a recipe, creating a masterpiece that illustrates His goodness.
And then there are commandments such as, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16-18a). They serve their purpose in reminding us that we belong to a kingdom different from almost everything we see and hear around us. In this kingdom, we learn that we live by dying, we receive by giving, and we are exalted by going low. So the command to rejoice, pray and give thanks carries weight because we often find ourselves in circumstances where common sense tells us to do the opposite.
Pretending bad things don’t happen to those who follow Christ doesn’t benefit us. That is simply not true. Our walk with Him is a relational journey, and as such, is much more about the process than the outcome. Living in denial keeps me from the necessary journey that brings both the encounter with God that transforms me and the healing of my heart that makes tomorrow desirable.
Real faith does not deny the existence of a problem. Instead, real faith denies the problem a place of influence. The difficulties in life have no right to redefine us or direct us. And of greater importance is not allowing our challenges to redefine God or His Word. Each gives us opportunities to encounter His presence, grace and renewed purpose for our lives.
It is in the honest acknowledgement of pain and loss that I can be truly healed. And strangely, acknowledging pain is often the route that takes us to our greatest promotion. Dealing with pain properly offers us the back door to promotion and increase. To ignore the pain in our hearts is to bury it deep within our souls, ultimately affecting our personalities. That’s never a good plan.
The distortion of our personality caused by undealt-with pain will resurface at a most inconvenient time outside our control. The people we most care for are often the ones who suffer the consequences of our unwillingness to deal with such challenges. As has often been stated, “Hurt people hurt people.”
Baring My Soul
Giving God such an offering does not automatically remove pain. But in my experience, this is where soul healing begins, as His strength is attracted to the surrender inspired by crisis and tragedy.
I have also purposed not to try to rush the process. One temptation is to overcomplicate our lives with activities, which deadens our awareness of our need for the touch of God. If our goal is to avoid feeling pain, we’ll usually settle for whatever makes us feel better in the moment. But if our goal is to be healed at the root of the pain, our times before the Lord have much greater intentionality. I felt impressed of the Lord to simplify my life to make sure I walked through this journey without grabbing quick fixes.
I don’t come before Him to pray religious-sounding prayers. Nor do I pray to fill a quota or to feel better about my spirituality. I do so to encounter His love in the untouched places of my heart. My prayers must be real; honesty invites healing.
But let me be brutally clear: I will not accuse Him. My prayers usually look something like this: “Father, I know it’s impossible for You to lie. And I know it’s impossible for You to betray me. But it really looks and feels to me like You did. I know my perception is wrong, and please forgive me. But I am in desperate need for You to heal my heart and restore my perception of You as a good Father.”
This is not a two-minute prayer before going to work. This takes time, allowing the ongoing encounter with His face to heal and restore the most broken places of our hearts. It’s not a quick fix but the ongoing lifestyle of health and healing.
In these moments, I always have the Scriptures before me. I can’t afford to think things about my circumstances or myself that He doesn’t think. Wandering from the Scriptures is wandering from the mind of Christ. Such deception is costly beyond description.
My history with God includes immersion in the Psalms at every place where there’s brokenness and loss. I read until something speaks to my heart, either about Him, me, my pain, my circumstances or hopefully, all of these at once.
Immersing myself in His Word plays a huge part in the healing of my soul. Obviously, my healing doesn’t bring my wife back. It doesn’t change the situation of loss and disappointment. But it does remove the sting. And while it may sound unbelievable, the healing enables me to genuinely rejoice and give thanks for the moment I am in, knowing He really does work all things for good. This comes from a place of deep surrender, knowing He will use whatever I give Him for His glory and my strength.
Mourning With Hope
Believers often avoid mourning in the name of faith. In part, I understand the reason, as there are so many who wind up in hardness of heart and unbelief in their journey. In their times of pain, they often accuse God or the people around them. We often tolerate this kind of behavior because we think people need an outlet for their suffering. And while I don’t want to accuse or condemn, I will say it is completely unnecessary and ill-advised to accuse God or others.
Mourning done correctly enables us to find the comfort we need, which happens to be a person. There is a mourning that takes me to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. How I mourn determines where I end up in my journey. Certain measures and manifestations of His presence can only be found in the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4a).
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). The Holy Spirit comes to comfort unto complete healing. The process cannot be rushed, but it can be slowed down. I have found that in my most difficult moments, I don’t need answers; I need presence. The Spirit gives us peace that passes understanding—if we give up our right to understand.
But answers aren’t wrong; God just doesn’t owe me any explanations. My quest is always for wisdom and understanding, but I don’t have the right to hold Him hostage to an explanation so I can obey Him. I cannot link my obedience to what I understand, or I will have created a God in my image.
However, there is another kind of mourning. We see it in Mark 16, where Mary Magdalene tells the disciples that she has seen Jesus, and He is alive! The Scripture says, “as they mourned and wept … they did not believe” (v. 10, NKJV). Then the two who met a stranger on their way to Emmaus quickly discovered that stranger was Jesus. When they told the others their good news, the Bible says, “they did not believe them either” (v. 13b).
Jesus next appeared to the rest and rebuked them for “their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (v.14). I find it interesting that He required them to believe another’s experience. Their desire not to be gullible to other people’s imagination did not excuse them in the eyes of God. Truth always brings the presence. But they didn’t recognize His presence when the story of Resurrection was spoken.
Mourning can take me to Him for comfort and healing, or it can take me to hardness of heart and unbelief. I consider unbelief to be the great sin, as it is our denying the reality of His nature, the faith-full one. That’s why depression is essentially unbelief. But mourning done well takes us to Him. It’s an unusually beautiful part of life, as it ends with the Father’s embrace.
What we do in those moments will affect the impact of our lives for the remainder of our days and beyond. I don’t say this to increase the pressure of an already difficult moment. I say this to bring sobriety to the subject so we don’t use our pain as a justification to live carelessly or focus on ourselves in an unhealthy way.
Losing sight of our purpose and His promise will always damage our heart, mind and behavior. And more common than those who fall into careless living are the many who adjust their theology to fit their experience, or the lack thereof. Experiences cannot redefine the biblical revelation of God.
Picture yourself driving until you come to a Y in the road. You can only go one of two directions. That is the journey of mourning. We either go in the direction of healing and comfort, or we go in the direction of hardness of heart and unbelief. What determines the direction we take?
Those who mourn with hope will always end up in surrender to the Father, yielding to the working of the Holy Spirit, being healed by the Comforter Himself. Here’s a key verse: “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep; lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13, emphasis added).
Sorrow without hope has no legitimate conclusion. No closure. Sorrow with hope always takes us into life, into greater expressions of God and His will for our lives. In other words, sorrow and mourning are not the end. They are the hallway that takes us from one room to another.
We undermine hope when we feed our hearts on what God didn’t do or isn’t doing. Find the present activities of God and feed your soul on them. Doing so brings tremendous strength.
Embracing the Mystery
Our trust in God is seldom seen in what we understand. Our trust is often proven and established by what we do with mystery. This is one of the most neglected areas of the faith—treasuring mystery. Our wonderful Father’s processes are never vindictive or humiliating. He deals with us to measure our capacity to live in and carry the glory of His presence.
Mystery is a crucial part of the test for all of us, but it’s not a test of acceptance or rejection. It’s a test of measurement to see with what we can be entrusted. My willingness to trust Him in mystery often determines the level of understanding with which He can trust me.
People will often ask why something happened or didn’t happen. My response is quite simple: He doesn’t work for me. I work for Him. He does not owe me an explanation for anything.
All I need to know is what He would have me do next. For me, that is the beauty of embracing mystery.
The lifestyle of miracles is not only the normal Christian life; it is the sacred responsibility of the believer. It is found in the example Jesus gave us in His earthly ministry and is imparted to us in the Great Commission. There, He instructed His disciples to teach their disciples all that He taught them. That process reaches to this very day. He taught His disciples many things, including the mandate for miracles. It amazes me that many still think it’s OK to follow Jesus without doing what He said to do. His command to heal the sick and raise the dead was not a suggestion.
Jesus healed everyone who came to Him, and He healed everyone to whom the Father directed Him. We cannot expect anything less.
Because my experience is different, I’m tempted to lower the standard of Scripture to fit my experience, or I move into guilt and shame for why I couldn’t see the promised breakthrough. Neither option is healthy.
My greatest privilege in these moments is to embrace this contradiction, the mystery, as though it were a great treasure. At this point, my trust in the Father is deepened beyond reason. In these moments, we discover why our faith matters so much to Him.
If it doesn’t bring the miracle, it will serve to keep us aware of the embrace of a loving Father.
As the senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, Bill Johnson is a sought-after international conference speaker and author of several books, including Face to Face With God, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind, and When Heaven Invades Earth.
Update to my Grammy Post! LOL
Ellington Announcement 2023
I have written in the past about the J@LC Essentially Ellington Program both praising the program and Wynton's vision, and what it means to me personally with my association with Byron Center and it's earned participation, and later with MSU 1 year. Today's announcement was extra special because my dear brother Marcus Printup announced it! With that said, I would like to give my heartfelt congratulations to my kids at Bryon for once again, being selected to participate in the festival. Without being redundant, one of the dreams and goals that Marc and I first set out for the program at Byron Center was to one day be selected for this amazing program at J@LC and be amongst not only incredible high school bands from around the country but to be with all of our heroes celebrating the amazing contribution of the great Duke Ellington. This will be the 6th time we will have been selected for the festival. This is an incredible testament to the program at Byron. All I can say is Byron does things the right way. As I always say about what I do is I teach life through jazz music. In order to be successful in jazz you have to be humble, you have to be selfless, you have to put others above yourself, you have to sacrifice and on and on. These are all principles Byron adopts. It's all about leadership and it starts at the top with Marc, Megan, and Caleb, but each year students rise to the occasion and hold accountable themselves, their sections, and the group as a whole. Working at Byron is a constant inspiration and motivation to me and makes me a better teacher and musician for being blessed to work with these kids. ( I have to give a shout out to Mike Hamann also for allowing me to work with his kids at West Ottawa each week) Marc and Mike allow my dreams to come true to work with students and this great American Art Form called Jazz! Thank you!
On a very personal note, last year was a tough year for me to go. I debated on wether or not I should go because I was Talia's primary care taker and she could not be left alone. We had an in house nurse who was amazing but only came twice a week but she was from hospice and said they had a rule that patients could stay at the hospice facility so many days every 3 months to give primary care takers a rest. Talia was up for going there which I was really surprised about so I could go and she wanted me to go (crying as I write this). I went back and forth on if I should go or not and with her urging decided to go. I had an amazing time as always. Throughout the week I of course loved in (she hated the term check in) and things were going fine and she was actually having a good time with the people there. It put me at ease to enjoy my time in NYC. On the day I was coming home things had changed for Talia. I came home to a different person. She was very confused and actually quite mad at me. I really could not figure out what was going on. I will spare the details but the next 24 hours were absolutely awful. (The tumor on her brain had spread and what was only affecting motor skills at the time now was affecting personality which they explained to me when I got to Hospice. Then it all made sense. As our incredible doctor told us, this was not Talia talking to you it was the tumor) I called our home nurse and she said the time has come to move her to hospice. For awhile, I so regretted going to Ellington. I had a month and 2 days from the day I got back from Ellington to the day Talia transitioned to Heaven. As I was talking to Marc about it and really regretting going, he flipped it on me. He told me maybe God knew you needed to be rejuvenated and build up your strength for what was to come. That was such a helpful way to look at it and let me forgive myself for going. Thank you Brother Marc for your healing insight and to God for the gift to give me this time at Ellington to be with so many that I loved and were so supportive of me through this. It will be an emotional time for me this year as so many things are for me right now reflecting on the events of the past year, but in how everything is being remembered, I have such grief that my wife is not present in person with me but I also have so much love and support to counterbalance these hard times for me. Thank you! Happy to be going back and congratulations to my Byron Family. You have far exceeded any goal and dream I could have ever had for this program! Love you all and can't wait and of course Marcus for your soulful way of announcing!
I feel I can't let this one go. People always ask if I watched the grammy's. The answer is always no. I've been on this soap box so long that I'm tired of talking about it. There is so little music on the grammy's at this point and what we are recognizing as art is very reflective of where we are at in society. This has always been the case. I'm going to tread a very thin line here even though I'm very passionate about my thoughts on many things in society. I try to focus on what I can do in a loving way. I'm always surprised to see peoples reactions to the mess this world is in and not equate the influences in media as having any responsibility for the current state of affairs. I am unapologetically a Christ Follower for lack of better term. I try my best to love people as Christ did. It doesn't mean anything goes. Christ was very direct on issues but he acted in love. (I need to write a post on the Chosen but I'll wait until later) So why all this info and what does it have to do with the grammy's?
I had just finished watching episode 7 of the chosen. After each episode my mind is always wow and how does this effect me today and what should I be doing now. It's been awesome. The only reason I turned on the grammy's was for the first time in a long time there was a chance of jazz, "America's Music" that we don't embrace, had a chance of being on because of the great new talent of Samara Joy being in the category of best new artist and a colleague from MSU being up for a grammy with a project that she brought live here and was excited to help out with. So I was like let me see what is happening. First thing I see is them basically worshiping Satan. I was like ok, let me turn this off right now. Wow. I'm leaving early in the morning and am rushed as always trying to get things done so bring my laundry in to fold and turn it on again. This time it was just in time to see Samara get her award which I was so happy about. This is followed by some hip hop tribute where it appears to me they are mocking Jesus at the last supper. Now I did not watch enough to actually see if this was the case because I wasn't about to be in for more non sense.
People can like what they like but here is my take on things. First, we as a society tend to glorify ignorance but it's deeper than that. It's spiritual. As a Christian, I believe in good and evil. If you read the Bible it's pretty deep about Christ's life being foretold way before He was here. When He got here, they tried to kill Him as a baby. Jews have been slaughtered because they are God's chosen people. Jesus has always been a message of love which is the exact opposite of the evil one. So the only reason the evil one would not want people to trust Christ is because He is truth. He paid the ultimate price for sin but because He is a lover, He is always going to give us free will to choose Him or not, which is why you see what you do now and why the world is a mess. The more we reject Him and He gives us the freedom to do so, the more we sow our own seeds of sin and destruction. Circle around to the Grammys with worshipping Satan and mocking Jesus. Yes, I was offended but nobody cares. They have a right to go in any direction they want to, but that is why I don't watch the Grammys. In addition to it supposed to be about music, there is so little talent there. It's business and money and high executives giving a deprived culture of what they want and what will sell!
To end on a more positive note. Here are a few times in my lifetime that were special Grammys for me.
So many of my heroes on this. I know sometimes these put together things are not the favorite things to do as artists but as a fan and very young to see my heroes on national tv was a big thing for me!
Lot of stories about this one. One Brian Lynch told me. LOL but how exciting to play the Hummel and then walk across the stage and play Monk. If I have my story right after Wynton one his first grammy, his dad told him, "You don't think this means you can play now does it? " LOL
Ella. That's all I need to say!
Now of course this didn't make the main broadcast. They couldn't fit it into the 3 hours or whatever it ran. But congrats to Samara. Also features my friend and former MSU alum Luther Allison!
Out West Day 9
Last day of the trip! I always try to get window seats when I can. I love taking pictures and now with the flight trackers you know what to look for and know what you are seeing. (My Israel trip they made me close the window which I was not too happy about. So dumb. anyways....) I was able to locate the following cities on the way home : Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, and Detroit. the rest of the trip was pretty much clouds and bright and actually did have the window closed for awhile. Mia let me have it for being gone so long but then always is soon to cuddle after. Thank you to Steve, Beth, and Luke for checking in on Mia and always treating her so well!
Out West Day 8
Well, what stared out as an amazing day ended quite tragic I woke up in an amazing Airbnb in Malibu. Time to reflect and admire God's handiwork. Heaven is going to be something else. The drive down or up is 3 miles up this mountain. I felt completely vertical at some points. LOL Once down, spent a lot of time at one of the beaches and took a lot of pictures as you can see. LOL Got to my next and last stay close to the airport and had dinner at Venice Beach. Was looking forward to a night of reflection and rest until all the news started coming from home. I feel so sad for my MSU family and those that lost their lives. Thank you to all that checked in with me. I'm no longer at MSU officially but still consider them all family.
Out West Day 7
Out West Day 6
Got up early in Phoenix and beat the Super Bowl crowd to head back to LA area. I just love this drive and it always goes so fast because I just can't stop looking at the mountains. Palm/Desert Springs is so beautiful, well not the windmills, lol. The main reason I came out was for a concert, however it got canceled. The consolation prize which ended up being the grand prize was to be able to hang with my friend, mentor, brother, hero..... Jeff Hamilton. He again was so gracious with his time, in a beautiful setting. When departing, he gifted me a cymbal as a token of our friendship. As I continue to say, it's been the hardest season of my life but there are so many that are loving me through it. I'm the most blessed man on the planet. It has been a drum kind of hang vacation. Had such a good time with another one of my heroes, brother and friend, Lewis Nash, Had coffee with my good friend Sheila Early, and even FaceTimed Uncle G on a hike to show him not all of Phoenix has snakes and scorpions. LOL
Out West Day 5
A day of mixed emotions. Very melancholy leaving Talia's family house. Then decided to go on a hike in my old stomping grounds at Papago Park. Hung most of the day in Old Town Scottsdale to watch the live broadcast of NFL live which I watch every day. Then went and saw Lewis play with Everette Harp great night of music and met a couple next to me from Jenison, MI now living up by Traverse City and we plan to meet up again this summer, when I'm up there for one of my gigs! I also got sun today! LOL Long but fun day!
8 Months Today
Today marks 8 months since my soulmate transitioned to Heaven. It was a very up and down day today. I had prepared myself for awhile now, knowing I was going to Phoenix to see her family. Her family could not be any nicer to me and have always considered me one of their own. I think Talia was always the most herself with her family. The last time we came out was last December for Christmas shortly after one of the tougher parts of Talia's journey where she really struggled with radiation. We only did 2 or 3 rounds and quit because of the effect it was having on Talia. Once we stopped, Talia started feeling well enough to drive on out to PHX for Christmas. She did so well and was so strong. She was still walking at that point and went shopping with her Mom and I think Sisters for some wigs. It was a little sentimental as we also visited a close Cousin of hers gravesite who had passed. Little did we know that would be the last time we would come out together.
So I of course was looking forward to seeing her family but knowing part of me was missing was going to be hard. When I arrived they had the enclosed pictures of Talia up and I almost lost it then, but held it together. I stayed in a different room then we usually did because it just didn't seem right staying in the room we normally did. We all went to a Super Bowl Gospel Concert and it was so nice to see everyone having such an enjoyable time. More family came over for dinner and we played games. My sister Randi gave me my Christmas present which was the above picture of like a kind of hologram cube with a picture I took of Talia at a book store in Detroit from the weekend we got engaged. It kept getting harder and harder to keep it together but I did and it is a very special gift. My time came to a close and said goodbye to Mom, and got in the car and finally before I left the tears came crashing! I think it had been built up for a few days since I got here.
After leaving, I decided to go take a hike at Papago Park where I used to go every night after work. I would hike up there amongst all the jack rabbits lol and I had my prayer rock I would sit on every night. I try to come back to that rock each time I come to Phoenix. (it was a lot easier to do the hike 16 years ago) It was interesting to me that I prayed for Talia at that time when I was living here and when I met her at work. It was a time in my life that I needed healing. Fast Forward, a lot has happened and praying for a much different type of healing now. All the time declaring God is good. I also prayed for the city as I could see the whole valley from up there and Mesa and Tempe. So much of they eyes of the world are on this city this weekend with hosting the super bowl. I love this place with the mountains and heat!!! but I really love this place because it's where I met my wife and one of the greatest blessings that I've been given. The grief is deep but God is seeing me through.
Love you and Miss you Talia! So happy there is no death for those of us that know Christ and you are having the time of your life! You deserve it!
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b]neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Out West Day 4
Day 4 was a relaxing day to hang with family. Had breakfast with a friend and it was good to get caught up. I took a quick walk around the neighborhood and will never get tired of the color. I think partly because everything I have read about heaven talks about colors so vivid we haven't seen anything like it here on Earth so just a glimpse.
Out West Day 3
My annual hike to Saguaro Lake! Then went to the Super Bowl Gospel show to be shown at a later date with the Fam!
Out West 23 Day 2
I woke up in Beaumont, CA near Big Bear Lake. So beautiful here. Hit the road to Phoenix. Had a great meal at a local Mexican restaurant, had a lovely walk observing the lemon and orange trees. They had a little book exchange in front of a house that Talia would have loved and said take some of our oranges. Very kind folk. Had the backdrop of Camelback Mountain. Saw my dear friend Deb and her doggie Smooch and had dinner with one of the all time great drummers, and friend and brother Mr. Lewis Nash. The drum support for me in the last year has been astounding. Will be seeing another hero known as Hammer in a few days! Also I got reacquainted with something called the sun! LOL
Out West 23 day 1
Max Colley III
Spirit Filled Jazz Musician