A suspiciously raised eyebrow from the teenage cashier at the local Walmart was enough to clue my wife, JoAnna, and I in on the fact that it was not normal for customers above the age of 18 to saunter down the check out lane with six cans of brightly colored spray-paint. The solid neon tops of each can seemed to yell out, “Meet us under the bridge in a half hour! We’ll be making protest ‘art!'” Well, art is in the eye of the beholder, but for me and my band, it was picture day!
So, what do you do for picture props when the budget is tight? Of course! You buy some spray paint and de-boring-ize your old grey car! Duh… At least that’s what we did. We made “Old Silver” look like Rainbow Bright and the Teletubbies were in charge of pimpin’ out the exterior of my old Buick.
Am I happy with it? If happiness is measured by smiles, laughter, and hippies hanging out of their windows saying, “Awesome Car, Dude!” then yeah, I’m happy. Let’s be honest, to every 60’s and 70’s hippie has-been, who now drives a mini-van full of grandchildren, my car is heroic. They love the “psychadelic colors” and “haven’t seen something like it for years!” I wonder why.
Every morning, when I walk out to my car, I still laugh at how ridiculously legit it looks, and every time I drive down the road, I’m super entertained by the shocked grins and finger-pointing of other drivers and their passengers. My car is like a 90 year old man sporting a neon pink speedo. It says, “World, I know I’m old, but I wear my age with pride. Check out my wrinkles… and rust!”
Back in ’89, my Grandpa Kowalik bought Old Silver with cash. He paid cash for everything. Since then, he passed away, and three or four years ago, my Aunt Jeane and Uncle Dave sold it to me for 75 bucks in an effort to help me stay out of debt. It still runs like a charm. When my aunt and uncle saw its new look for the first time last weekend, you should have seen their faces. They both laughed out loud with my uncle blurting out, “Grandpa would roll over in his grave if he saw this!”
Well, I’m not so sure. He was a risk taker too. My grandpa left the Ukraine (a country in eastern Europe) and immigrated to the United States when he was still a teenager. He was the first graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and he never went into debt. He worked at different jobs, pastored a church, and early on, he traveled to different churches to sing and preach. He fell in love with my grandma partly because she was a good piano player, and he told God, that he “needed a piano player” to be his wife.
As I’ve thought about how he would react to the paint job, I’ve determined that he’d love it. Maybe he wouldn’t love the color combinations or the choice of design, but I’m convinced he’d love what it represents. It represents a new era of my life. I’m no longer trying to make it in pop music. Yes, I’m still writing love songs. Yes, I’m still going to make cd’s from those songs, but those are more like “all these other things.” The focus of my music career has changed. I’m seeking first to build God’s kingdom with my music.
It’s all ministry from here. On stage or in interviews, I’m no longer going to tip toe around the fact that I’m a Christian. I’m no longer going to believe the lie that I’ll be pigeonholed if I tell people that I hear God speak. The thrust and focus for all of my music from now on is worship.
How does my brightly colored graffiti mobile represent that?
A couple weeks ago, I quit my job (with my wife’s supportive approval) again to do music. But this time, it’s different. This time I’m doing worship music.
The band pictures that were snapped of Jo, Allie, Ben, and I were promotional shots that we’ll use to send to youth groups, camps, and churches. We’re moving forward with plans to travel with different evangelists and speakers. We’re also working on refining 10 songs from worshipsongweekly.com for a new worship album.
We’re primarily a worship band now, and we’re using every ounce of our creativity and resources, including my car, to worship God.
I think that’s something Grandpa would be proud of. (And Grandma too, I hope…)