After quite literally years of prayer and conversation, my wife Roshare and I have made some big decisions over the last few months. The long and short of it is this: I am going to retire from music at the end of 2013. Truthfully, when we made the final call on this back in December, I wasn’t sure if I would be done right away, or what the exact timetable would be…but ultimately I decided that I really wanted to honor my label and publishing commitments through 2013 and tour this new record, that I love so dearly, for at least a year from release just to make sure I “finish well.” To most everyone who knows me on a personal level I don’t think this would be a bit surprising simply because this decision really was years in the making…the reality is that we just finally found what we thought was the right time. Both my record deal and my publishing deal were coterminous with the release of my new record back in Oct of 2012, so it was either time to re-up for another 5-6 years, or move on. The decision was strangely easy. Really easy, actually. Mostly I think just because on emotional, spiritual, personal, and relational levels, I have struggled for years now with all of the things that surround and are a part of what it means to be a professional musician…the touring, publicity, lack of consistency, anxiety, and time away from home have been a struggle for me in different ways for pretty much the entirety of my nearly 20 years playing music. Please don’t misunderstand me, playing music has genuinely been a dream come true…I never could have imagined this story for myself and it has far exceeded anything I could have planned on my own. But as I’ve stated so many times in the past, I really have always felt like an “accidental” musician in so many ways, and with that has always been this sense that I would never be a “lifer,” this sense that music would someday come to a definitive end for me. The truth is, my heart just hasn’t been in it for quite a while now, and what was left of it I feel like I squeezed out and emptied into writing and recording this latest project…which now turns out to be my last project, and perhaps my favorite project that I’ve made – one that I couldn’t be more proud to finish my career with. So the reality for me is that I honestly couldn’t be more excited about closing this door and opening a new one. And when I say closing the door, I mean really closing the door. On music. Closing the door on touring, performing live, and even songwriting. I don’t have any plans at all to pursue a career in writing or really anything music related. If I’m honest, I’m not really sure that I know how to NOT write songs…I’ve never really tried that since I learned to play the guitar at age 17; but I can say honestly that I don’t really have any plans to write again. At the very least, I won’t write another song until I HAVE to write another song – if that makes any sense at all. I don’t want to write again until something in me forces it’s way out, until there really is a true upwelling of my spirit and absolutely nothing less. So maybe one day somewhere down the road I’ll have a group of songs together that I might want to record in my living room, but I’m not really holding on to that as part of what I hope for moving forward. The reality for me is that I don’t have any one specific direction…I feel like there are a solid handful of things that I really get excited to do with my life in this new season. But as far as specifics are concerned, I don’t know that I really feel called to something else as much as I feel called away from music. In all honesty, I think that uncertainty about what comes next is what kept me hanging on to music for the last few years. It’s hard to walk away from something that has been so life-changing and so all-consuming for all these years, something that I’ve seen God move in so profoundly. And on a practical level, it’s hard to walk away from an occupation that’s been so fulfilling and so stable, the only job I’ve ever had, and one that still provides so well for my family. But I’ve always known and promised myself that I would not forsake a call in a certain direction based on the fear of what comes next. That’s not faith at all I don’t suppose. So here I am, on the edge of something altogether new…the same way I was 20 years ago when I turned away from the potential of medical school and towards a new season of music. My goodness, it’s daunting but, my Lord, it is indeed beautiful. I don’t know how to express just how thankful I am for all of the people who have supported me for all these years…I still don’t even know how I got here, how I landed on this particular course, but I do know that it wouldn’t have happened without a God who is bigger than the burdens of this world and without the relentless willingness of people all over this world to be a part of this with me. I will be forever grateful.