Friday, April 29, 2011


These are the words that I want to shape me:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We've had the luxury of having a few days off from tour while in Lancaster, PA. We love Lancaster because we have dear friends here in a band called The Beggar Folk. Do yourself a favor and check out their tunes. Heck, why not buy their CD? The past few days have been full of adventures: we've gone to the market, visited Chickies Ridge, played with cats, played frisbee & soccer with some wonderful strangers in the park, made some delicious food, recorded new songs, and made lots of new friends.
The winter weather has finally decided to go on vacation and let spring take its place. I love going for walks in short sleeves and dresses without getting even a single goosebump! Way to go, spring. 

This internet won't let me upload any pictures of these adventures, so if you'd like to see them by taking your own adventure to my Flickr, click here

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Forward Moving

People come, people go.
I am learning we should be thankful for the overlap of time where life is shared together.

I am thankful that God blesses the diligent hand. I am encouraged by people who discipline themselves. It forces me to  plan, organize, and prepare. The people who are failures are waiting for an opportunity to come to them- they have no plan.

    I believe successful people makes things happen. They shape the course of a generation because they forced themselves to perfect their potential.

    Every second is attached to the next. When added together long enough, they equate to a life-span. Let's not put off until tomorrow what we can do today. Let's live to give.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Iron and Iron

The last few weeks have been some of the hardest that I have ever felt. But out of tribulation comes a fresh sense of purification, not unlike the feeling of washing dirty hands in a cool stream. I think that what makes it possible to endure the most difficult of trials is having others around you who care about you. There are rarely any words that can be spoken to make our problems go away. A good friend knows when to speak, but more importantly, when to shut up. There’s a real arrogance in trying to solve everyone’s problems with a 2-minute encouraging word. Albeit well intended, these pep talks are often draining to me. But I know that I am guiltier of that than most, so perhaps I shouldn’t say anything.

I guess what I’m getting at is that I am growing more and more to appreciate the value of silence. I believe that being fully present in a situation, but choosing to remain silent is one of the greatest signs of maturity, and I hope to grow in that a lot more. I think this kind of companionship shows a respect for the other person, rather than just waiting to talk. I also find it more comforting in tough times. For me personally, the greatest comfort has come not from anyone’s words, but from the knowledge of a fully present, yet often silent guide within me, who is somehow able to silently embrace me from the inside.

What I am really learning anew is the value of intimate friendship. The band Death Cab for Cutie nicely sums up my feelings on the subject, infinitely more articulately than I have:

“I know our filthy hands can wash one another's
And not one speck will remain.
I do believe it's true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too.”


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fort Wayne

The past few days have been incredibly relaxing. We've been staying with a wonderful RYFO family in Fort Wayne, IN. They've allowed us to invade their space for a few days while we make the trip to Pennsylvania. Being here has been absolutely wonderful; they have fed us out-of-this-world dinners, let us clean our stinky clothes, taken us to a hockey game, let us decorate Easter eggs with them, and made s'mores with us in their living room fireplace (and that's just naming a few things). It's always an incredible feeling to spend time with families like this and seeing how selfless and giving they are to smelly musicians like us. We feel so grateful to be a part of a network of safe, welcoming families who make us feel at home and who genuinely like developing relationships with us all. We all want to feel accepted and loved- but to actually experience that can be hard on the road. Thankfully, I can speak for the rest of us in saying that we have felt nothing but welcomed, loved, & cared these past few days in rainy Indiana. It's 1:50am right now, so my mind isn't working in its prime condition, but maybe I'll have something more interesting to say next time I share. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this entry- I haven't felt super inspired by the landscape, but I feel like this will change once we hit Pennsylvania. Stay tuned...


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Learning to Fly

        I hear a lot of people say, “If I could just go back and do things different.” My response to this is, "What load of crap that is". I say that even to myself. I would love to be able to apply the lessons I have learned over almost an entire year of touring and making our bands first record. Yet, that’s perhaps the lesson in itself. The fact that I can’t go back compels me to plan more effectively for the future.

            Shannon has been reading this wonderful book to me while I drive while she sits shotgun. It’s about a lady who is a highly regarded Christian Author in the world of writing. But you probably won’t find her books next to Max Lucado. (No offense to Max or any of those writers.) What compels me about this book is her ability to convey the truth of her experience in such a raw and honest format. Her conversion was in a drunken state where she finally gave up and said, “Come in.” She didn’t know what devotion meant. She had been torn to pieces from life’s unending waves of tragedy that beat against the door of her boathouse every single day.

            But she chose to take a step. She didn’t continue looking backwards. Maybe I am just talking to myself. I talk a lot about not looking back only to realize I spend doing much time doing that. I tell everyone not to be ashamed of their past but to move on. Yet, I find I am the one who hasn’t moved on.  I think about the day I die. I wonder what it will be like: some devastating car crash, asleep in bed with my wife, falling down a flight of stairs, in my bed blessing my family as I slip off into eternity.

            I am learning that we never entirely grow up. I still have questions at 23. I will still have questions at 24. I will still fail miserably. I can choose to drown in a sea of misery or embrace the fact that I am learning everyday.  Learning from my mistakes and dwelling on them are two separate things. I think Tom Petty was right when he said, “I am learning to fly, but I aint got wings. Coming down, is the hardest thing.”


Monday, April 18, 2011

Farewell Address

Howdy friends, Burk here. There’s a decision I recently made that I feel you should be
informed of. I will no longer be playing bass for Mike Mains & The Branches.

First off, I would like to mention that this was one of the hardest decisions I have ever
made. Hours of prayer and thought were put into this. My decision didn’t come from a
heart of discontent toward the band, but from more personal matters. I will be living in
Chicago and going to school for Biblical Studies.

I will always love this band and the dudes and dudette in it. Mike, Shannon, and David
are family to me and always will be. I am merely stepping down as bassist to be the
number one fan.

This has been such an exciting past two years. I have no regrets. It’s been a huge
blessing to play music and meet so many new people. My prayers, as always, continue to
be with the band and I am excited to see where it will go. I believe in it, I know it will go

God Bless,

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I am an advocate of pursuing the path of peace- not to be mistaken for the path of least resistance. Life has a whirlwind of decisions we encounter everyday. I firmly believe I am incapable of making the right choice every time without a guidance of peace.  People fight wars in the pursuit of peace. Sometimes I wonder if it accomplishes the opposite. Our elders slave to invest in us principles of truth and righteousness so that we do not disrupt the inner peace by some terrible decision. 
Right now I am at a point where its easy to be overwhelmed with the present circumstances, yet I am learning that things work themselves out. Peace is not a location so much as a result of making noble decisions. I think peace comes from putting others first and looking out for the widows and the orphans. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Let me tell you what, I love reading. However, in the past year I've learned that it's difficult to carry around your personal library of books from home when you live in a van. What a conundrum I found myself in- I was limited to the one or two books I decided to take with me at the start of a trip, and I found myself wishing I had brought book A or B instead of book C or D. Don't fret though, I found the light at the end of the tunnel! Recently, my best friend purchased me an invention called a "nook". This contraption contains as many books as you want, and they fit conveniently in the palms of my hands.  The last two weeks have been a blast for me! I've read so many books, magazines, newspapers, etc... The possibilities have been endless! 
One book though that has been of great inspiration to me is Anne Lamott's 'Traveling Mercies'. It's a powerful, raw read that has successfully made me laugh, cry, and really examine life. Do yourself a favor and sink your teeth into this piece of luscious literature.  
 Also, I found those pictures I was trying to upload last week...enjoy!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011


It has been awhile since I have blogged. For that I apologize. As of recently we have been on tour with Abandon Kansas and Swimming With Dolphins. The last three dates, we have direct support to Abandon Kansas. They are extremely talented and driven individuals. Playing before them every night provokes me to be the best that I can be.

Over the course of the last couple months our vision hasn't necessarily changed as much as it has been illuminated more clearly. I woke up and realized I didn't want to be remembered as a Christian musician. I am a Christian and playing music is what I do. Limiting God and my relationship with Him to a guitar or a Sunday makes me sick to my stomach. Yet feeling this way created an earthquake-type dichotomy inside of me.

We are told biblically to preach the gospel. We are told to deny ourselves. We are told to be poor by one preacher, told we can believe God to be millionaires by the next. Multiply that by sleeping in a different town overnight and meeting new people and it's hard to find a cable that will connect you to the foundation you were once strapped to. It's like we set out to sail the Atlantic with our idea of what that looks like only to find that once we are out there its a completely different realm.

The point I am getting at is that it's hard to reconcile being a follower of Christ that doesn't just play youth groups and do what the CCM world desires of you. Jesus drank wine and hung out with sinners. He became the filth of the world and the sin of our fathers. Paul said it this way: "Be all things to all men." He never went around waving a flag. He lived and did what His Father told Him to do.

More than ever I just want to be all things to all men that I might win some, that I might get over myself and be an encouragement to someone else. Life is hard. Your best friends go through hell right next to you and sometimes it’s hard to notice because you feel the same way. It's easy to get tunnel vision. However I find peace in asking God what He wants of me, not what an industry wants of me, not what my friends want of me. Who am I? Who do I serve? What does He desire of me?

In a recent conversation with a new friend he said "We say we want to serve God but only do it like the Arcade Fire. Yet what if right now were supposed to be in front of 40 kids a night. We can't pick and choose what serving looks like."

Right now I am learning that "He who is faithful in least will be faithful in much."

We must never be ashamed of the name of Christ. Yet we must never limit the ways in which we can express His love to this world. I choose the path He has set before me.

I love God and I write music. As long as He wants me to, I will keep playing my guitar.


Saturday, April 2, 2011


My energy was drained. My mind was as a desert- dry, barren… vacant. The glass of my psyche was neither half full nor half empty. It was completely barren. As I approached Capanna’s Coffee & Gelateria, I was admittedly pessimistic. I don’t drink coffee. Ever. It seems to me that coffee is not entirely unlike the liquid remains of chewing tobacco. It seemed clear to me that Capanna was not going to be my savior.

I paced back and forth, scanning the interior. “How tragic,” I thought, “that this lovely little shop would waste such a warm, welcoming environment on coffee.” My mind raced, or at least tried to. My tank was on empty, and there seemed to be no fuel in sight. Then, in the midst of this desert, my skin screamed, as a sailor crying out that land is in sight. The hair on my arms stood up, pointing like a compass to what I would soon discover to be the very Oasis I had been longing for.

“Gelato,” explains Wikipedia, “is Italy's regional variant of ice cream. As such, gelato is made with some of the same ingredients as most other frozen dairy desserts. Milk, cream, various sugars, flavoring including fruit and nut purees are the main ingredients.” These are the facts about gelato. But they are not the truth about gelato. The truth is, gelato is the nectar of the gods. Gelato has only two real ingredients: milk and honey, and Capanna’s is flowing with both.

Sample after sample, I tried every flavor under the sun, rejoicing in the knowledge that my decision was no longer to live in agony or to die in defeat. No, now I was merely deciding which side of heaven to visit. I decided upon lemon. Bold. Tangy. Lemon. To this day, I have never tasted anything so refreshing, so invigorating. And Friday, April 1, 2011 will go down as the day that Gelato renewed my hope in our world.


Friday, April 1, 2011


I am tired of being cold. It seems like its been years since I felt a temperature above 50 degrees!

A couple nights ago, we slept in a Walmart parking lot in Idkwhere, Wisconsin. While Wisconsin has some pretty tasty cheese, it does have a pretty cool climate. So here I am in the van, bundled up in my sleeping bag when I wake up and realize something. I can't feel my feet. I'm breathing fog. And my teeth are chattering.  Luckily, at that time the sun had just come up so I was pretty well rested. But not a very pleasant way to wake up, Wisconsin!

I am dreaming of the summer months. Sun tans, shorts, tank tops, and fun.