Thanks to so many friends who came out, and to Peoria Women's Club - PWC for hosting me, Heather, and DPCD on Saturday. This concert was especially meaningful as it was Heather's debut as a songwriter. It was SO good to receive the wonderful music of my brother-in-law, Alec. And, for my part, I SO MUCH enjoyed playing and sharing. This was one of the most enjoyable concerts of my life, and I'm still feeling a full heart from the night. ♥️ It's good to be reminded why you're doing something. I'm often aware of the cost I've paid, and my family has paid, and our community has paid, for me to pursue my career and calling as a writer and a musician. Saturday, for me, was a taste of the fruit that is beginning to grow from 20 years of planting and tending and caring. Nothing worth doing is without cost. The combination of spending time in that building and listening to the music coming from Heather and Alec reminded me about the importance of musicians and artists. As I look back at our history, I see a lot of important roles played by many courageous people. But there is a leadership role we tend to overlook, played by artists. We tend to attribute cultural change to presidents and politicians, but the reality is that presidents and politicians are appointed by us — they are going to take us where we ask them to take us. If they don't, we'll elect someone else next time. In other words, we are ultimately responsible for our direction, not anyone else, not even presidents. But artists, true artists... they receive their direction from somewhere else. We all have this Voice inside. This Voice leads us toward life, meaning, healing, wholeness. This Voice leads to who we are — as individuals, and as a culture. We all have this Voice inside. But artists are wired to hear in a way most others cannot, and to articulate what they hear in a way most others cannot. Artists, true artists, aren't able not to hear this Voice. It would take them considerable effort to ignore the need to articulate what they hear when they do hear this Voice. Artists do this regardless... Regardless of compensation (or lack of compensation). Regardless of affirmation. Regardless of criticism. Regardless of persecution. Regardless of all obstacles, an artist travels a path most others lack the sensitivity and the courage to travel. They travel it over, and over, and over, leaving in their wake a path which the rest of their community can now use as well. Then the culture begins to grow. But the artist goes first. This is leadership. As I look back at our history, at the most significant and meaningful changes — changes which have led to growth and life and wholeness — I see, at the very front of the line, artists. I say all of this without much of an agenda. If I try to conclude by saying that we should pay more attention to artists or to resource them more, nothing will happen. But, thankfully, artists don't require these things to do their work. So I say all of this only to affirm other artists: Your work matters more than you know. You are a crucial leader. By giving yourself time and space and permission to find and share your Voice, you are leading a culture of people who have all but lost theirs, and who, I believe, are desperate to find their Voice again. Take courage, leader. Keep going.