Your Response to Session 4?

What Jay and Helena shared with us this morning was so rich, deep and personal….it completely inspires me they way they have grappled with faith in the toughest of circumstances… and to have the courage to share some of that journey with us.

Having worked alongside them the past few years, I continue to be deeply impacted their honesty and real-ness in whether on stage or off stage. I feel completely inadequate to even comment on their extraordinary expression this morning.

And then, Donald….that was one of the most challenging (in the best of ways!) and mind-stretching (brain-stretching??!!) talk that I’ve heard in some time.

While much of my day (maybe like yours) gets consumed with the work of “executing” my art….figuring out what works and why it works….evaluating and systematizing and structuring and doing….To step back and think about the mystery of art was so life giving and reminded me why I’m an artist at heart.

Donald completely challenged me on so many levels: to embrace the mystery on my own personal journey, to allow enough time in my life to experience art to its fullest, to release some of my quests to “understand it all,” to have all my questions answered.

How ‘bout you? What impact did Donald or Jay and Helena have on you? What are taking with you from this time?

Here are some links we thought might be helpful:

The Geometry of Love book

Rembrandt Self-Portraits

The Brain: Amygdala

The Age of Enlightenment

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Ray Pelletier said...

From John (

Tagging off of Dustin's comments:

Support of artists in the church seems to be a huge but untapped and untouched subject. We can't fuel arts in the church with "starving artists" so to speak. Coming from a musician perspective who worked professionally in Chicago, until I was on staff at a large church as a full time music director, I had to juggle my volunteering with professional work at night, very often on weekends of course in and around serving at church. Sometimes it was impossible. I'm fortunate now not to have to do outside work, mostly do to the area I live now there is less of it, and I'm well supported by my church - and most of all I moved to a much less costly part of the country partly in order to do this. But I so miss the big city culture and church I once served in.

But frankly, most volunteer musicians/artists are barely skimping by in life trying to scrape out a living as it is, let alone serve in church. I still know full time music directors in very large churches that still, even while living very modestly, smaller house, - buying used cars, living in lesser suburbs, wives working, still have to take wedding band work and other jobs on the side to make ends meet. Sadly, most artists, musicians, etc. have to consider serving in church "on the side" of what they have to do to have any kind of stable life and even a family.

What can be done about this in the church? We support missions and anything that's seemingly more "needing" if it's overseas, or in impoverished areas of the US, and of course rightly so. But what about musicians in the church who increasingly in many ways have fewer and fewer opportunities for an actual living off of their craft? What if the church or well to do individuals fully supported artists - adopted them so to speak? I know this is way outside the box and frought with logistic issues - but what if? The musicians in the OT temple were given instruments of the highest quality made from the rarest of woods. They were given rooms in the temple because they were called upon day and night. To me, this sounds as if they were pretty well supported. Is this valid?

My craft as a musician is very costly. I have a college degree in performance that cost money. I had private lessons. I have equipment to purchase and keep up with. Maintainance. I have to have a larger car to haul gear. I have to pay extra for insurance for my instruments. I continually look for ways to keep up on my craft - whether that be magazines, books, CDs, concerts, lessons, master classes, conferences, etc. I can't just be a "player" any more, so I also have to write, compose, produce and arrange music to stay competetive and in demand. So I need a computer, a home studio, midi and keyboard gear. You name it. It's not cheap. (vocalists sure have it nice to just carry their instrument with them wherever they go!)

Anyway - I think you all get the point. Am I asking too much?

Church - are you listening? - John

Anonymous said...

(here's what John is responding to)

Here's a question:

We're seeing a semblance of art resurfacing in church, but it seems we still give it lip service in comparison to the Renaissance.
(not that eveything was right qith the Rennaissance)

My question is, in your opinion, what is holding us back?

Is it lack of financing (church commissioning artists, families like the Medici's of the Renaissance, etc.)? Societal pressures? The implication that "Christian art" is lesser than other art?

I honestly don't know, but I'd like to hear ideas.

Kevin said...

I meant to blog this earlier but didn't get the chance. I enjoyed Don's session and liked what he said but was confused about his timeline. He mentioned the Enlightenment as the point where our thoughts changed but uses references prior to the Enlightenment. Specifically the term "The Enlightenment" refers to the mid to late 18th century with the rise of secular humanism, democracy, ancient-greek architecture, and classical period music. I believe that Don was referring to the Renaissance which had a similar rise in importance of the human intellect (Gallileo, Columbus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, etc.). This was followed by the Baroque period which reacted against it with a rise in the church. Just a thought.

Kathleen Sullivan Isacson said...

(in response to :what's holding us back:)
I firmly believe that is God has placed something, like the arts, at the center of our heart, then we should work to make those things the the center of our lives. I realize that this is not practical and often fail to do it myself...however, is God practical? God's lagic is the logic of the heart, which unlike 'rational' logic, is uncontainable and refuses to fit into the limited, orderly spaces our left brain provides. I think head logic is more likely to reshape itself to our passions, perhaps because it logically knows our hearts will not yield to argument alone. God's logic rarely feels safe, though, and requires a huge amount of courage. I find that when I am making career choices and other choices based only on my brain, rather than God's advice to "leap and wait for the net to appear" - it is from a lack of faith. When we rely on our own efforts, we make the world smaller and easier to manage but, sadly, less wondrous and less real than the universe actually is.

Kathleen Sullivan Isacson said...

Sorry, I got sidetracked.

DON, The Romeo & Juliet analysis is AMAZING. Please keep it up. Will this be in the movie?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jay & Helena -
(& Nancy & that nudging Holy Spirit)

My husband and I were two of the poeple standing as everyone said a prayer which is especially touching to me, because my husband is not at a place where he feels like he can pray just now. Having 5,000 people praying on his behalf was the best thing that could happen for him today.

We attend Willow and were already familiar with some of your family's story (we were at the NC you mentioned) It was so wonderful that you've shared yourselves in difficult ways at times even when you might not feel like you had anything left to give. Seeing Sunny's first reaction to sounds was wonderful - thanks for sharing the good stuff too!

Tom Broad said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jay and Helena. I know first-hand that it had to be tough.

I have to share that hearing your story was one of the best things I heard this weekend. To hear of a couple who have had a rough time similar to my wife and I and how you moved through and dealt with it was powerfully encouraging.

My wife and I have lost four babies over the past two and a half years. We had one set of twins, which made it really hard as we had really prepared for that neat blessing. It has been such a hard faith-testing past few years. Praise God that our marriage has really been strengthened, and we just had our first-born three months ago. We had a beautiful healthy daughter, whom we named Jadyn (means "God has heard"), and we just celebrated our four-year anniversary yesterday. My wife helps lead worship and I work in audio technical ministry, so we have felt the same feelings through our many hard times. Unfortunately for us, we did not have the church support that we needed.

So, as you can see, your story was a true blessing for me to hear today, and I am sharing it with my wife. I sat in my seat teary-eyed along with you. Thank you for sharing such a tough story, for being so transparent, and most importantly for being so honest about your raw feelings toward God. We have been through the very same feelings of hopelessness, and it is so good to hear we are not the only ones.

BLUEYEDUCKstudios said...

I was blessed completely - thank~you Church, and thank~you Jay and Helena! ~xo~

I stood for prayer - if you didn't have the chance to pray for me then - you sure can now! I so need it!

Kevin (up there a few posts re: Don's spiffy session on Rom & Jules, ETC) - thanks for the timeline comments- I was having a rusted-brain moment regarding those dates synchronizing- I feel less rusty now thank you very much.

I'll see you all again because of Him,
psalm 103


Donn said...

I so appreciated Jay and Helen'a testimony in Session 4:

1) My wife and I are parents of a 6-year-old handicapped daughter, Hannah. Despite her handicap, she's a very joyful child. Sunshine's smiles in the video struck a deep paternal chord in me.

2) Transparency. My storm did not come with Hannah's birth, but later in ministry. I understand "I didn't know what else to say to God."

3) One of our team is in a personal storm and stood for prayer. She was immediately surrounded by caring people.

Thanks and blessings, Jay & Helena, to Nancy, the Willow staff, and volunteers.

Anonymous said...

This was a great session. I was deeply moved by the beauty of Jay and Helena sharing their story. Their hearts seem still raw. Even though the worship set ended on an up note(which seemed a bit inappropriate, can we just sit in the mystery sometimes?) I enjoyed their story most because they are still in the middle of it. I was extremely stimulated and inspired to hear Donald Miller speak both times this week. I would like to note that God is both an artist and a mathmetician/scientist (what was the term he used?) Also I believe God did give us some bullet points in addition to telling stories. The ten commandments and the sermon on the mount come to mind. Scribble was the most brilliant, diverse and enjoyable Christian production I've ever seen. Lastly, I was thrilled that there was only one "drama sketch" during the conference. Somehow it feels like it is time to move away from that. God bless all who had a part in bringing such refreshment to us who are weary in the trenches. Thank you.

Dustin said...

We discussed this in the car a bit after the Friday session. John has some valid points to be addressed, but I don't think I have those answers.

On another level though, I think what holds us back is fear.

Fear of the White Elephant.

P. T. Barnum once sent an agent to buy a white elephant, sight unseen, hoping to use it as a circus attraction. When it arrived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, it was covered with large pinkish splotches and was not white at all.

The public was not impressed and Barnum had to keep his "white elephant" hidden from public view in a stable while he tried to decide how to recover some of the high cost. The elephant later died when his stable burned down.

So, maybe many churches are afraid to invest too much into the arts because there is a greater risk with something as subjective as art. A greater risk that you could sink so much time, effort and money into a song-dramas-dance that end up being of little value.

Until we get over that, John will never be valued.

Larry from Joy! said...

All the worship leaders in our group were moved deeply by Jay and Helenas testimony.(tears ducts thoroughly flushed) So many times we hear the praise team members saying things like 'I can't bear to fake it' or 'I feel I'm not close to God'.

The lesson learned God is present amidst all the difficulties we face and all the obsticles we must work through. Be genuine share with courage and know He is God and we are not!

I would love to share this testimony with our downtrodden praise partners. The video post doesn't even begin to tell the whole story.

Contact me at if the whole segment can be made available. If music must be cut due to copywrite so be it. PLEASE make this life changing testimony available.

Sharp said...

Some folks wanted to know the "romantic" Shakespeare quote Don used during his session. It's from Act I Scene VI of Cymbeline:

Had I this cheek
To bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch,
Whose every touch, would force the feeler's soul
To the oath of loyalty; this object, which
Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,
Fixing it only here