It was about 9:00 p.m. on a cold night in October, of 2014. The band and I had been touring hard for the last few weeks, and we were taking rest at a Benedictine monastery just outside of Chicago. Early that night, we had attended mass with the monks, ate dinner with them, and now were settling in for our rest. But deep inside of me, their was unrest. I was alone in my room and decided to go make a visit to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament just down the hall. I walked into the cold dark room where Jesus was present. We were all alone. I knelt down and poured out my heart to Him.
Ever since 2012, and our release of Universal Youth, I had been consumed with making Catholic music and The Thirsting. I was obsessed with pouring everything I had in my being into this band. My life revolved around it. Nearly all of my joys and struggles, were in relation to the band. While at the same time I had recently gotten married to my wonderful wife Leticia with whom, as of today, I have 3 boys. Leticia, was and is the love of my life. But, I also had another love: making music and doing ministry with the Thirsting. These two loves set the stage for a battle inside my heart over my band and my family. I loved my wife and family very much, and I loved music and ministry through The Thirsting very much.
With the release of Universal Youth in 2012, Leticia and I set on a journey to promote the album as much as we could. We began to raise our family on the road. My wonderful wife followed where I lead. Soon though, we quickly discovered that family life on the road was not practical for us. We decided to live in California in a tiny town called Lake Isabella. It was here that I penned one of my best songs on the new album called “Alone.” Living in California and being far from my home state of Washington was very difficult for me. One day as I sat at my desk, Jesus just told me that he was never going to leave me alone and that he would always be with me.
After living in California for about 6 months, we then relocated back to Washington as a family. I then began to tour by myself. I would go out for 3-5 weeks at a time. At this point, we now had 2 children: Paulo and Luke. Needless to say, this lifestyle was not conducive for family living. The father of the house was nowhere to be seen as I was always out on the road. I was following my dreams and passion for the band, yet leaving behind my family. But I didn’t know how to fix it and make it right. In the midst of my passion for the band and ministry, I also had to make money, which meant I needed to be playing music on the road.
This all culminated in 2014. My wife and I bought a huge bus to take the band on tour with us. As I always say, with more zeal than brains, we purchased a 1996 Prevost bus that needed much work on it, and so, we went to work on it! With little time and little money, we converted our passenger bus into a tour bus with bunks and electrical power. Then off I went with the band again to be away from my family. Only this time, we didn’t know how long it would last. I really didn’t know how long I would be apart from my family. My dreams of touring the country and playing music had consumed me.
As the tour began, I quickly realized that I was in a mess. The little money that we did have was all spent and now we were in debt. I remember it very vividly. I looked at my bank account and realized I only had $500 to my name and I was close to $30000.00 in debt. I had created a huge mess and drug my wife and family in with it. Along with with this, the tour was struggling. I found myself at the lowest point I had ever been in my life. This brings me back to that cold October day just outside of Chicago, where I finally let it all go and let God be in charge of my life.
I knelt there before Jesus in that cold chapel. I felt the weight of the world on me. How was I going to provide for my family? How was I gonna get out of debt? Had I ruined everything? Would my wife forgive me? Would my kids be OK? I had made such a mess of my life and my family all because I wanted to follow my dreams. That night our Lord gave me an image of myself. He said you are like wheat that is being smashed and beaten in a bowl. Your folly and selfishness led you to this point. Now Jesus finally had my attention. I was utterly broken. Only God could rescue my family and I now.
That night, I made a firm resolution to put God and my family before all else. They were the most important things to me in my life. I missed them so much. No matter what, I would never put my family in such a vulnerable situation again. This was the end of my battle. God, and my family won. Now I just needed to dig out of the hole that I has created.
For the next three years I worked tirelessly at providing for my family while at the same time remaining connected to my family. I began to only do weekend fly out shows. I now call these parish mission concerts. Being home throughout the week and only gone on the weekends has made the world of difference for the stability of my wife, family and I. God showed us a plan in the midst of our struggle. Now we are out of debt and on on our way, God willing, to purchasing a home.
Our new album, Michael was born out of these last 7 years of struggles and triumphs. Many of the songs on this album could have never been written if I had not walked this hard path. This album is truly blessed and a result of God’s providence. It is a reflection on my life for the last 7 years and my decision to put my family first. The song “Dreams” Especially exemplifies this point as well as the song “Tonight.” You will just have to listen to these songs to understand how they connect to the last 7 years of my life and my personal struggles.
All along this journey one prayer has been with my family and I throughout. The St. Michael the Arch Angel prayer. We prayed it every time I parked the bus, every time I got on a plane, and every night I was home with the kids. I know it was the angels that have been with my family. They protected my wife and kids at home wile I was away. They protected me on the road. Both the songs “Michael” and “Holy Angels” off the the new album I attribute to them and their protection and intercession.
Today, we still have struggles in our family, but none like we had before. Jesus has taken care of us and saw it fit that I could record this new album. No song exemplifies this more on the album than the opening track “Running.” God is running after each of our hearts and will not stop until he wins. Well… at least for me… he’s now finally winning. Perhaps you can relate with this story. I know we all have times in our lives where we place our own personal dreams and goals above God and others. This album is a result of my struggle and battle and God’s triumph in my heart. Thank God. Yes, thank God.
Dear friends, I present to you Michael The Album. Release date: 12/15/17