Thursday, October 30, 2008

Concerts? Really? You're still doing that?

Of course I am. What a silly question. For example, here is the info on two upcoming concerts:

-- Wednesday Nov 5 (7 days from now), I'll be playing at Woodcreek Church in Richardson, TX. It's a full band show, which I haven't really done in nearly a year. Should be really exciting. DFW area people, come on out.

-- Friday Dec 5, I'm doing a show in Houston. Details coming soon.

Also, just because I'm proud, below is a recent pic of baby Naomi. I mean, are you kidding me?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I know I do this a lot...

... but sometimes my wife just says it better.

The word you're searching for is Yippee!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And on the other side of the world...

... in more ways than one, there's this. Don't click unless you're at a place where you can cry like a baby and maybe lift your hands like a crazy person.

While we're waiting...

... on a baby, you can go here and be sucked in by the magical wonder of it all.

Also, in case you feel like saying the Kings have it rough with their whole infertility/adoption thing, you can be reminded that my in-laws take us on awesome vacations.

So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


In response to what feels like a bajillion emails from nice people who just want to know what's up, here is the latest on our current adoption situation. Thanks for all the prayers and kind words. We'll post more when we know more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Learning to love her

“In order for me to get what I want, someone else has to go through the hardest experience of their life.”

My wife said that to me tonight. We were on our way to the movie. With the new adoption situation, we figured we ought to get a date while we still can. So we took the boys to my parents’ house and went out to eat and to a movie.

While we were at the restaurant, Staci actually talked to the woman who very recently gave birth to the baby that will probably be our daughter.

See how weird that sounded? I promise I tried to find an easier way to say that so that it actually communicated the truth, but I just couldn’t.

People talk about adoption being hard. I suppose when they say that it’s “hard,” they’re talking about all of the crazy stuff that adoptive parents go through: the infertility, the “my kids don’t look like me,” the financial expense, the mountain of paperwork and formality and hoop-jumping, the various difficulties of bonding with a child that you didn’t give birth to, the numerous and weird conversations that are necessary. Etc.

All of it.

People sometimes say that it’s hard. But if you want to know that truth, it’s not really that hard. Losing a child to a tragic death is hard. Cancer (and cancer treatment) is hard. Being left by your spouse and then raising your kids by yourself is hard. Losing a limb. Living in the poorest, AIDS-stricken parts of Africa. Serving a prison sentence and knowing that, even after you get out, you’re still going to be an “ex-con” even though you feel like you’ve changed.

All that stuff sounds pretty hard.

But adoption? It’s not really that hard. I mean, it’s all relative, really.

The odd thing is that, for us, it’s actually kind of normal. We’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what to expect and how to process it all and how to find a balance between hoping/planning for a baby and guarding your heart in case it all falls through. We’re actually okay at all that. It’s not like it’s a walk in the park, but it’s not too bad.

Everybody has their “normal,” and that’s ours.

So when we got word, a little over a month ago, that a birth-mother had chosen us and that she’d be having a baby by the end of October (meaning we’d be having a baby by the end of October), Staci and I just sort of looked at each other with teary eyes and said “here we go again.”

So it’s with great confusion and sobriety that I say to you (many of you who have followed our adoption stories) that this time – this “here we go again” to hopefully adopt a baby – feels hard.

I know, I know. I just took several paragraphs to tell you that it’s not hard. I’m aware of the flip-floppiness.

Why go to all that trouble to tell you one thing, only to tell you the opposite thing immediately after?

I guess it’s because every adoption is different. I really don’t want to go into too many details, out of respect for the birth-mothers with whom we’ve interacted and known, but I can say that, each time we do this (we’ve actually done it 5 times, even though two of the times didn’t “produce” another member of the King family), I’ve grown in my love and understanding for what it takes to “give up” your baby.

Did you see Juno? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s a great movie on lots of levels, but as a study/story of adoption, it’s an absolute masterpiece. I don’t even think that’s an overstatement.

Anyway, there’s this heart-wrenching scene in the movie where Juno, a teenage girl planning to place her still-in-the-womb baby for adoption, realizes something that isn’t very pleasant about the adopting family, and she pulls her car to the side of the road and weeps. All the emotion of what she’s about to do – and the unexpectedly flawed folks she’s about to do it with –just slams into her and she’s simply unable to handle it all. So she cries. And if you’re watching the movie, you probably cry too.

The perspective that the scene reveals is, in a word, eye-opening. There’s a whole pile of blog posts that could be mined from the 90 seconds or so that I’m referring to. But mainly, for me, it just raised questions. Questions that, as I first saw the scene (I had already adopted 2 children and almost-but-not-quite adopted 2 others), I sort of couldn’t believe I had never truly, honestly, thoroughly asked:

Who is this being who can carry a child in her womb and then give it to someone else?
After doing all the heavy lifting, why in the world is she going to hand over the pay-off?
Can we possibly understand her?
And how can we ever love her?

Pretty good questions.

And the reason why this adoption – normal as it is – feels so hard is that I still don’t have the answers to those questions.

In the absence of the answers, I suppose it comes to down to this:

Somewhere tonight, not that far from where I sit, there is a sweet, precious baby girl. She was born yesterday. She has spent the last several hours in the arms of her mother. Her mother. Right now, I’m not her daddy. Right now, Staci is not her mommy. But if things go as we hope and plan, she will be our daughter very soon. And if that happens, we will look back on this night – this night when I sat on my couch and wrote about stuff that was nobody’s business – and we will say, “even then, we were her mommy and her daddy, and she was our daughter.”

(See, even when adoption isn’t all that hard, it’s still weird.)

And, somewhere tonight, a sweet, precious woman is holding a baby that is absolutely her daughter, and she is trying to prepare to let go. Maybe she’s trying not to glance at that picture of that couple that has offered to be the parents of the baby that was, then, still in her womb. That couple that met her a few weeks ago and, with expectant eyes and awkward words, told her that they loved her and loved her baby, even though they had no real reason to. Maybe she’s trying not to glance at that picture because right now, if only for a little while, this is her time; time that she’ll never get back and that she’ll never forget and that she’ll never regret.

It’s their time; mommy, worn out from the labor of labor, and baby, overwhelmed by the world all bright and noisy and new. And maybe mommy’s looking into the expectant little eyes of her baby and, with awkward words, trying to say – more for herself than for the baby, really – that this thing she has to do is the best thing. This way is the best way to show love to the tiny, fragile gift that God has been growing in her womb and is now in her arms.

And that’s hard. That’s actually hard.

“In order for me to get what I want, someone else has to go through the hardest experience of their life.”

If anyone could identify with this, I suppose it would be God.

So here we are, with teary eyes, looking to Him and saying “here we go again.” As always, He’s coming along.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hey kids, rock and roll

It's contest time again...

One of the tough things about my crazy traveling schedule last year was that I had a lot of trouble finding space in my brain to write songs. I mean, I had spent a good chunk of 2006 writing and recording the music for Soulspeak, and then a good chunk of 2007 writing and recording the music for Perhaps, so I guess I was due a break.

But writing songs is what I do. Though I’ve got lots and lots of jobs, song writing is the thread that binds all those jobs together.

So when I found myself overwhelmed with organizing and booking house concerts (not to mention actually doing them), which included a tremendous amount of phone calls, emails, flight-booking, place-to-sleep-finding, receipt-keeping, and money-counting (mostly one dollar bills, but still), I just really didn’t have anything left for the creative endeavor that is song writing.

That was tough, but obviously I had a blast. As I’ve said before, the whole experience has been really fantastic, and I look forward to getting back “out there” again soon.

In the meantime, my new job, though busy and time-consuming, is consistent and predictable and, at some levels, easier on my pea-sized brain.

So I’ve been writing again. A lot. And, cooler still, I’m actually writing really different stuff. For example, I can’t tell you the whole story, due to a contractual obligation (that’s not a joke), but some stuff happened this summer (someday I’ll either be able to tell you the story, or perhaps you can see it for yourself) that got me thinking about writing for advertising. Like jingles. So I’ve actually been writing some jingles. Just local stuff, but it’s been a blast. I write 30 seconds of music and lyrics, and people pay me. It’s been a blast. It’s challenging and weird, and of course it’s the absolute epitome of “selling out,” but you know what? I don’t care. I make money for writing music, and that’s the dream. So there.

In addition, I’ve been writing some hymn-type worship music. Long story, but I’ve been studying old hymns and old styles of worship, and I've been writing in response to what I've learned.

I've actually got almost all the music ready for an entire project of half-original, half-re-worked or re-arranged hymns. I can’t wait to show it to you. I don’t know when I’ll do it. Hopefully early in the spring.

And finally, I’ve been writing children’s music (that's the reason for all the pics of my kids; it's not just an excuse to rub your nose in the fact that they're so cute and talented). Those of you who are parents know that there is just a lot of bad children’s music out there, especially in the “Christian” category. And I just decided that I’d try my hand at it. I don’t know how good I am at it, but I’ve been writing a lot.

And also…

OK,OK, I’ll get to the contest. You know how I am. It’s not like you ever expect me to just come out and say something. I have to give the whole, long, drawn-out delivery. It’s my way, and you love me for it.

I mean, “Clear the Stage” is nearly 6 minutes long, and it’s your favorite. Just admit it, and we can move on.

So, the contest:
I’ve got about 7 songs completed (and about 3-4 half-completed) for a children’s record. Some of the songs are overtly “Christian,” meaning I wrote them deliberately trying to point people to Jesus. And some of them are just about “kid” things.

Here are some of the topics of the songs:
--The books of the Bible
--Being ok/secure with who/how God made us
--Playing outside (as opposed to spending all day in front of the TV or whatever)
--Trying new foods
--The concept of the Trinity (I’m serious)

Stuff like that. It's sort of all over the map, I admit. Some of the songs are kind of funny/goofy, and some are more serious. But it’s all aimed at kids. It’s been a blast working on it all.

I’d like to have 12-15 really solid songs for the project, but I’m running out of ideas. I need ideas!!!

So you folks have to send me your ideas, and I’ll pick ones that “inspire” me. If I write a song based on your idea, I’ll give you a credit on the CD, and of course I’ll send you a couple of free copies.

That's the contest. That's the pitiful prize.

Lots of you are parents, and you know that music helps your kids to learn things. So just be thinking about what kinds of things you’d like to hear your children (or any children) singing, declaring, learning, etc.

Send me whatever you’ve got. I don’t care if the ideas are explicitly “Christian” or not. I don’t care if they’re silly or serious. I just need ideas.

Within a month or so, I’ll try to post a demo or two of some of this stuff so that my faithful blog followers can get a taste of what’s to come (kind of like I did before the release of Perhaps).

OK, bring it on. Who wants their name in the liner notes?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The lesser of a whole mess of evils, perhaps?

After watching two presidential debates (during which I sighed and threw up my hands and talked to the TV a lot) and reading way too much news on the topic, I decided to break my own rule and talk a little politics.This one might get too academic for some of you. My apologies, right up-front, for that. But if I’m going to talk politics, that disclaimer seems only fair.

And so…

I’ll start by saying this. I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. this political season has me so flustered and bored and confused that, at least in terms of this particular topic, I'm feeling sort of like a urinal cake: always getting doused in some kind of liquid, and never quite sure what's clean water and what's tee-tee.

Oh, don't be so offended. It's actually not a bad metaphor.


This is The Over-Reaching, All-Encompassing Truth: Only the Lord is able to make all things right. He has The Way. No other way will do. Not the Republican way. Not the Democratic way. Only one Way.

Thad posted something a few days ago about all this over on his blog, and as usual, it’s way better than what I could say, so go here an read it. Then come back and read the rest of this.

OK, now that we’ve established that politics aren’t the answer, let’s do some theorizing.

What if there were an influential, politically-motivated man or woman in this country (for reasons that make lots of sense to me but maybe not to you, I’d prefer for it to be a man, and I’d prefer for him to be unmarried or maybe married but without young children) who woke up one day and said, “you know what, I think I’d like to run on a ticket that is absolutely, in every sense of the word, PRO-LIFE!”

Let’s say this person had thought it thru pretty well, and he/she just felt like consistency in conviction was the most important thing. So he/she figured “pro-life” meant pro-LIFE, even in ways that seemed difficult and uncomfortable to him/her. Pro-life. So anti-abortion, of course. But also anti-death-penalty. Pro-animal-rights. Pro-adoption and pro-family. Anti-war. Anti-violence. Pro-environment. Pro-religious-freedom (except in the rare occasions when religions condone or promote violence). Pro-affordable-health-care. Pro-everybody-getting-along. Etc. Any area that had to do with preserving life and encouraging the public to preserve life, this man or woman would be for that.

A truly and comprehensively Pro-Life candidate. Can you imagine it?

Me neither, but still...

Let’s not spend a lot of time parsing thru the various problems that this person would run into as one “pro-life” conviction slammed into another, causing (I would imagine) all kinds of moral conflict. That’s not the issue. Politicians are already – by nature and by the necessity of their vocation – forced into ethical conundrums of one sort or another every day. I would venture to guess that the President of the United States, throughout history, moment to moment, has had to balance one deeply held conviction against another and try to sleep at night with the way the scales are finally tipped. That’s nothing new. So a person with these kinds of convictions would probably be no more or no less likely to be able to stay true to their promises and convictions than any other candidate running for public office.

So for the sake of this particular post, let’s just agree that we don’t need to delve into all that. That’s not the discussion I want to have today. If you’ll bear with me for a few more paragraphs, I think you’ll see why.

And let’s not talk about whether or not I’d vote for this person. I’m not sure that I would. I certainly don’t agree, out-right or whole-heartedly, with all of the positions that I listed (or rather, I should say I’m as suspicious as anyone of how a serious conviction on those various positions would play out in terms of public policy). Again, these aren’t necessarily the issues.

What I’m getting at is that this person would have no place in either party as it exists today. My mythical, Totally-Pro-Life Candidate is just a personification of consistency taken to an extreme degree. Is it a sensible personification? I don’t know. Remember, that’s not the point. I’m saying that somebody could arrive at this place. I’m not saying that they should, or that I would (I’m definitely not saying that I have). I’m saying someone could. And if they did, they’d have no place in either of the major parties.

And of course that means that it's possible that lots of people in this country don’t fit easily into either of the major parties. Perhaps (hey, it's possible) it’s even true that a majority of the people in this country don’t fit easily into either of the major parties. And yet those two parties still garner the vast, vast majority of the votes.

Doesn’t that seem weird?I don’t like it. In fact, I don’t like a lot of what’s happening in the political world, but no one really cares what I think about such things.

So let’s just move on.

The short version is that I’m getting less and less interested in politics these days. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that politics don’t matter or that we shouldn’t pray for our leaders or involve ourselves in the political goings-on of our nation.

And I’m certainly not saying that people shouldn’t vote. I’m just less interested than I used to be. Most of you probably don’t know that I was a Political Science major in college, and that before my phone started ringing with offers to play my songs (for real money!), I had plans to go to grad school and hopefully end up with a job in research and/or law.

The Lord graciously intervened, and the rest is indie-wanna-be-rock-star history.

Anyway, I still vote, but I’m that voter that everybody hates, because I vote based almost entirely with specific issues in mind. I’ve stopped trying to find a perfect political party, and I’ve certainly stopped hoping that I’ll actually be able to discern the character and motives of the politicians who covet my vote.

By the way, Thad (who, as many of you know, is one of my co-pastors at Com Church) has been doing a fantastic sermon series on real hope and how it’s not ever going to be legitimately provided by politicians and world government. You can check it out here if you want.

So I still vote, even though I don’t pretend that I can greatly alter the nature of the world or the hearts of people when I do it. I have a smaller and more attainable goal in my voting. That is, I try to do a small part to secure (in that flimsy way that our political/governmental system allows for anything to be “secure”) certain things that are important to my family, my faith, my way of life, etc. In short, I vote with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (at the macro level) and the family of Ross King (at the micro level) in mind. If you want to know how I vote and whom I vote for, I don’t mind telling you. Actually, that’s kind of what I’m about to do.

I’m thinking about voting for this guy. For president. I probably won't do it. I'm just saying that I'm thinking about it.

Yeah, I know he won’t win. But as far as I can tell, I basically agree with this dude more than anyone else who is trying to run the country (and again, we’re talking about an extremely flawed political system that has no power to really save or even change the world, and we're talking about a level of "agreement" that is pretty shallow, but still...).

Of course, this is a guy who I’ve only read about and watched on the internet; it’s not like I’ve hung out with him or played with his kids or anything. I don’t assume he’s perfect or that he espouses every opinion and belief to which I adhere, or even that I’d like him much if I met him. He might be a pompous, cold-hearted moron who puts on clown make-up to go strangle kittens that exist solely to bring comfort to blind orphans. Who knows?

Either way, if I did meet him, I’m sure I’d say something like, “seriously dude, you don’t really think you can change the world this way, do you?”

He probably wouldn’t listen. Or maybe he would. I don't know, but right now I'm not sure if my conscience will let me vote for either of the major-party candidates (sorry mom and dad). Like I said, I don’t really know this guy. But I don’t know any of the other people either. What I do know is that the major-party candidates are doing their best to please every single person in the very diverse respective parties to which they are loyal. These people want to please all the Americans who say they are Democrats, and these people want to please all the Americans who say they are Republicans.

Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

This guy is trying to please his party as well, but the slight difference (and it is very slight) is that his party seems to be concerned with adhering to one thing above all others: The Constitution.

I don’t think the Constitution is the Bible or anything, but I do think it’s the document that was carefully, thoughtfully (perhaps, for some of its architects, even prayerfully) considered as it was written, and it stands to this day as the -- at least theoretical -- basis for much of what we do and believe as a nation. And as long as I live in America, I have to have a certain modicum of respect and awareness with regard to that document.

It’s complicated. Again, I don’t want to veer too far off-point. I’m just trying to say that this guy seems to be posturing himself in such a way that he might actually be forced to some level of accountability. The Constitution, though flawed and worldly, is a well-known benchmark that he’s very publicly saying he would honor with a sense of priority. We could actually monitor that.

I mean, theoretically.

(Like I have any idea what I'm talking about. Are you still reading? Seriously, I'm so full of crap.)

In other words, this guy’s party seems like a viable “Third Party.” There are others. Some look postively loony, at least to me. This is just the one that I like (and it might seem positively loony to you).

And if you ask me (no one did), I say let’s have three parties. Hey, I don’t care if we have fifteen.
Someday maybe I’ll get into more of my whole speech (see bits and pieces of it in the first few paragraphs of this post) about the great problem with the two-party system and the other glaring flaws (according to ME) in our way of doing government in this great country of ours.

That last phrase wasn’t a joke, by the way. I do think this is a great country. Really. I’m not so cynical and rebel-obsessed that I’ve stopped appreciating where I live and what it affords me. No way. I feel blessed to live in this place. Lots of folks have fought, bled, and died to keep this place, at least at some level, free. I get all that. I really do love America. For lots of reasons. One of those reasons is that, in America, I can vote for anybody I want to.

And right now, I’m thinking about voting for him. Tomorrow I may change my mind and want to vote for him. I'm pretty sure I won't be voting for him, though.

Speaking of crazy people who hate liquor enough to run for president, here's something that you can quote me on: if you're so passionate about liquor (one way or the other) that you're thinking of starting a politcal party to spread your views, it's probably best if you just move commit yourself to some kind of institution. Or have a beer and think it over. Whatever.

One more thing. Some of you might be tempted to say that, if I actually go thru with this crazy one-man-plan (and I probably won't), I’m throwing away my vote. That’s certainly a way of looking at it. But I prefer to think of it like this. If I just keep voting in one of the two parties, despite my discomfort with doing so, I’m being untrue to myself. Moreover, I’m affirming an over-generalizing, polarizing, crippling system of segmentation and people-wrangling and broad-stroke-painting that I have no belief in whatsoever. Perhaps if a few million people (starting with me) place their vote elsewhere, something might change.

OK, you're right. Who am I kidding?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I'll be honest. I miss doing house shows. Don't get me wrong. I am absolutely loving my new job. But I am looking forward to getting out and playing again some time soon. With the adjustments of the job and the soon-arrival of a new baby, it's kind of nice to be at home and not out on the road.

But I still miss it. There's just something special and unique about that kind of ministry. Those of you who attended and/or hosted know what I'm talking about. Unless you hated it. Then you're just a dum-dum who wouldn't know a good house concert if it sat on your couch and rocked your brains right out of your ears like goo from an over-filled jelly donut.

Well, it won't do any good to mope around about all that (the lack of concerts, not the donut goo). My life doesn't have room for such nonsense (though it does have room for jelly donuts). I feel confident that I'm doing what the Lord wants for now, and I'm equally confident that He'll continue to lead me into exciting and blessed things. In other words, I think I'll be doing a lot more house concerts someday soon.

But in honor of the year that I spent doing those shows -- and in anticipation of the "someday soon" when I can do many more -- I give you this not-very-true-but-not-that-far-from-the-truth list.

Worst “compliments” I’ve ever gotten after a Ross King House Concert:

--Thanks for not playing very long.

--Your music is the perfect soundtrack to enjoying these corn chips and avocado dip.

--My favorite part was when you sang that song about how you hate mega-churches.

--It’s nice to come to a show that isn’t very crowded.

--I’ve always known Larry's couch was big, but until tonight, I never knew we could fit four heavyset Christian ladies on it.

--My dad loves your music. Me, not so much.

--I would be so insecure if I had to play little tiny concerts liket this, but you handle it great.

--Your songs are good. Like Carman good.

--You’re not quite as fat as you look in your pictures.

--It’s cute the way you bring a microphone even though you don’t need it for 9 people.

--My favorite part was when you sang that hilarious Chris Tomlin song about your girlfriend.

--You should come play at our youth lock-in. It would help calm down the middle-schoolers.

--You have a really nice house.

--Thanks for the free CD’s. I took 2 of each!

--Sorry you didn't get any money in the box, but here are some pigs-in-a-blanket to go.

--I need to get my grandson to listen to your music. He's into all that rock-n-roll jibberish, but your songs are more easy-listening.

--I love that you didn’t play that one song that I hate.

--You remind me of that lead singer from Rascal Flatts. Not your voice so much, but your double chin. And the fact that both of you do musical things.

I'm actually in the process of scheduling a few shows for the late fall and early new year. Check back for updates and let me know if you're interested. There are still so many places that I never got to go (sorry Floridians! sorry Chris!), and many that I can't wait to come back to (Robert? Babe's? Djembe?).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Is there a way that I can use this to make myself look cool?

I am so proud of these guys. As many of you know, I've been traveling and working with the great Michael Steele (on the left) for a good while. As my drummer/percussionist, he's done about 90% of my house concerts with me, as well as lots of worship gigs and some studio sessions. In addition, Ben Love (in the middle) has been playing bass, off and on, for me for the last year or so. And finally, Josh Taylor (on the right) has been playing some electric for me for the last few gigs. Well, those three guys also make up Clairmont, a really great band whose recent CD I co-produced at the MixLab.

Anyway, the Clairmont guys have a good friend who is in film school, and that guy volunteered to shoot, direct, edit, etc a new video for them. It's so cool. All I did was record this song, but I'm totally going to find a way to ride these coattails.

Watch here. This is SOOOO COOOL that I know these people.