Discover Your Dream, Influential Interviews

Musician Liam Kyle Cahill Shares “The Key To Happiness”

One autumn evening, I sat at a wooden cocktail table in a humble coffeehouse, and I listened to my friend Liam Kyle Cahill play his acoustic guitar to a small crowd of coffee drinkers and hopeful poets for Open Mic Night. Even with a short set, he garnered applause, and a song called “One Spark” particularly resonated with me that night. Now several years later, I still remember the chorus and its arresting guitar riffs.

Meet Liam Kyle Cahill.

Meet Liam Kyle Cahill, the musician with “The Key to Happiness.”

But Liam Kyle Cahill isn’t playing coffeehouses to build confidence these days. Rather, with his Ode to Wisconsin EP  under his belt and his first full-length album on the way, he’s taken stages across the country to play small shows with a gang of friends and a conglomeration of instruments: guitar, harmonica, drums, bass, mandolin, violin, piano, and even a string quartet.

As an artist, he’s evolved from a singer/songwriter into a man with the mentality of a full-blown producer. And his sound—it’s just as bold. (Think “Mumford & Sons in a bar room brawl with Bob Dylan at a punk rock concert,” as he’d say.) To polish it up, Liam Kyle Cahill’s lyrics stay true to his personable nature and big heart.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview my friend. Today we’re talking about life, his music, and his encouragement to fellow dreamers. So listen up, friends, and learn how to live it well!

(1) You’ve got a new album called The Key To Happiness. So what is the key to happiness?

LKC: Making music really—that’s what makes me as happy as anything! As far as the title, I think it was more about my pursuit of happiness and the lessons I’ve learned along the way…. When you make the choice to be happy, you are! That’s what I’ve found.

Liam Kyle Cahill on stage

Liam Kyle Cahill performs with friends at his “Ode to Wisconsin” EP release party.

(2) You’re following your dream, working in geology by day and writing songs at night. Congrats! Tell us a little more about your journey to pursue your passion for music—not to mention, rocks—and what it’s taken to get there.

Liam Kyle Cahill on stageLKC: Well, I graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, with a bachelor’s degree in Hydrogeology, and have spent the last three years doing exploration geology in different parts of Nevada and Utah. I have always connected with the outdoors, and was immediately drawn to that kind of lifestyle before I even knew how to hold a guitar.

But by the end of my senior year, I started writing my own songs and performing around town. The passion for music had always been there my whole life, but I finally had the outlet to create something that was uniquely me. Once I got a taste of that, I never stopped! Now I’m working to find the right balance, advancing both of these loves simultaneously.

(3) In your new song “Life Before Death,” you talk about that tension between nature and technology—that idea to slow down, “cut your chains and breathe life deep,” and really “live it, folks.” What inspired you to share this awesome message?

LKC: “Life Before Death” is a song based on a poem by John Muir, where he ponders these same ideas and what it means to be grateful for the lives we have. I took that idea one step further, challenging our dependency on technology and the control it has on our ability to be content in each moment that we live. Then I started reading Charles Dickens, and the basis for the song thickened. Dickens urges us to live with purpose and embrace the people around us by opening up our hearts and being vulnerable. And when it all comes down to it, that’s what I think music is really about.

(4) As we pursue our dreams, we need people to encourage us. Who’s been with you every step of the way for this project?

LKC_3LKC: There are a two people who fit that description, the first being my good friend and co-producer Dan Ruben. I met Dan at a show almost two years ago and we clicked instantly. When I first started to envision the scope of this record, Dan was able to bring those ideas right to life with bass, mandolin, and drum parts—and the rest is history!

Then there’s Tom Gordon: sound recording engineer, mixing engineer, co-producer, and friend. Nobody has pushed me to grow as a musician more than Tom during the recording sessions we’ve had this year, where he challenged my guitar playing and singing to become tighter than ever. Tom is like the quality control for the album, making sure we get just the right take before we move on to the next step.

(5) What advice do you have for your fellow dream-followers and friends?

LKC: In one of the last conversations that I had with my grandfather before he passed, I asked him what he felt was the most important advice that he could share about following my dreams, and I must admit his answer surprised me: “Don’t let the bastards get you down!” He lived his life by that rule and explained to me it doesn’t matter what other people think of you or your endeavor—if it’s your dream, then go for it!

One Spark cover art

Buy a pre-release copy of Liam Kyle Cahill’s album, and you’ll receive an immediate download of his single, “One Spark.”

Liam Kyle Cahill is currently raising funds to complete his 2014 album, The Key to Happiness. If you resonated with his story and his advice to fellow dreamers, then stop by Liam Kyle Cahill’s Indiegogo page to hear his music and buy a pre-release copy of his album. November 25, 2013, is the last day of this fundraising campaign, and LKC is giving all contributors an immediate download of the single, “One Spark.” As someone who’s been looking forward to a digital recording of this song since I first heard it in a coffeehouse, trust me: This music is worth the listen.

Words by: Ally Siwajian © 2013

Photo credit: Gary Micander and Alex Fleiner (All photos used by permission of Liam Kyle Cahill.)  

Bob Goff speaks via live stream
Connectivity, Influential Interviews, Scripture Study, Stunted World Changers

Be Available: What I Learned from Bob Goff’s “Love Does” Talk

What if we told people who they are? Not that we commanded: “Be this” or “Do that.” But what if we honestly told people the talents we see within them, the character qualities we appreciate, the stuff they’re just good at?

This weekend, as author Bob Goff spoke to a church crowd in Las Vegas, Nevada, I couldn’t get his question out of my mind.

“What if we’re the ones who say: ‘This is what I see in you’?” he challenged the crowd and the online audience.

How Bob Goff Became Available

Bob Goff speaks via live stream

Bob Goff laughs a lot! I’m glad I watched this storyteller online for good laughs and good encouragement.

In his short talk on Saturday, Bob Goff told of personal experience that led him to this realization. “I was getting less and less available,” he confessed.

In response, he did something drastic. He gave people his phone number. Not just friends. Anyone.

Bob Goff wouldn’t screen calls. He’d just answer, talk for a bit, and encourage the person. If he was spending time with someone in person, then he’d answer his phone and simple ask if he could call the person back. Then he actually would.

It’s such a simple concept. But I find it’s difficult to do.

A Time to Rest, A Time to Invest—in Others

For me, it’s definitely been a busy season. This spring, I finally scored my dream job. But soon I found I had little time for anything else. I’d arrive home from work mentally spent. My creativity for writing—emails to friends, blog posts, or even text message replies—lacked. I became tired. Then I just wanted to retreat.

Time to rest is good. Time to process and to recharge is vital to our health as people. But at what point did we decide to put up the barriers? To screen calls? To only meet a friend when it was scheduled far in advance and fit in “my schedule”?

Bob Goff said: Jesus, “He had more time for everybody.”

Yes, Jesus rested—he slept on boats, and he went away to mountains to pray. But he also aimed to be there for people. On His way to raise a girl from the dead, He stopped to heal a bleeding woman in the crowd. On His journey to Bethsaida, He paused to feed 5,000 people. Jesus knew His mission.

Pans and Pickpockets Challenge: Encourage People

If I want to be a good friend, then I need to take a lesson from Jesus. I want to begin to be intentional about caring for people. It’s as easy as showing people you love them. Since I’m a person who values words, one of the ways I can do that is just to tell them.

“What if we’re the ones who say: ‘This is what I see in you’?” Bob Goff said.

Let’s start telling people what we see in them. I want to live to encourage others in their journeys. All I need to do is be available.

PANS AND PICKPOCKETS CHALLENGE: How do you like to encourage others? Leave a comment. I’d love to talk with you here. 

Words by: Ally Siwajian © 2013 

Photo by: Ally Siwajian, featuring a live stream from Canyon Ridge Christian Church 

Lauren with sun glasses
Discover Your Dream, Influential Interviews, Stunted World Changers

Warning: Not Your Typical Missionary: An Interview with Lauren in Las Vegas

Lauren with sun glasses

Meet Lauren from Las Vegas!

This summer, I had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Lauren Patton.

She’s 22 years old, loves a creamy cup of coffee, and brings new volume to the term “Laugh Out Loud.” Behind her long, blonde hair and favorite plastic shades, Lauren loves Jesus.

Today I want to bring you a look into her life as a less-than-typical missionary to Las Vegas, Nevada—a city I love and a place Lauren has decided to devote her time, passion, and energy.

Ally: You’ve traveled to the Philippines. You’ve lived in India, and you’ve even spent time in Canada. Why did you choose your hometown Las Vegas, Nevada, as the place for you to be a missionary-in-the-making?

Lauren:  “Funny story actually. I was in Youth With A Mission (YWAM)’s Discipleship Training School and I actually was in India, and I felt like the LORD told me in October 2010 that I was supposed to go back home to Las Vegas by January.

“I said, ‘You know, that sounds all fun and good. But I want to go to the nations, and I want to go all over the place. I don’t want to go back to Vegas.’

“I finished up the last two months in India. I prayed about it again, and I was like: ‘Okay, LORD, where do you want me to go?’ And He said: ‘I want you to go to Vegas.’

“So I came back home to Vegas, and I was like: ‘LORD, I don’t know what to do.’ And He was like, ‘I want you to join the YWAM base in Vegas.’ And I was like, ‘There’s no YWAM base in Vegas. I’ve lived in Vegas my whole life. That’s a bunch of balogne.’ And He was like, ‘Oh really. Go Google it.’

“So I Google YWAM. And, of course, YWAM Vegas is the first thing that pops up. I was like, ‘Okay. You are LORD. I am not. You have spoken. I have not. I’m going to YWAM Vegas!’ I’ve been at that base for fifteen months now.”

Now you’re working at the YWAM Las Vegas base on F Street and Washington. What does a day in the life of Lauren look like?

“Well, it depends on which season I’m in. I work with a program called Mission Adventures, where I recruit these youth groups and we have these kids come, anywhere from ages 9 to 28. We teach them how to share their faith and how to show God’s love wherever they go.

Laur with storm troopers

Lauren (second from right) isn’t afraid to have fun! Here her outreach team joins stormtroopers on the Strip!

“So if I’m in a season where the kids are in town, then my day is jam-packed from 7:30 in the morning ‘til 11:00 at night. I’m either cooking a meal or I’m teaching a lesson, doing small groups, washing dishes, organizing outreaches, like holding a giant sign on Fremont Street that says, ‘Come get free prayer.’

“We also do a thing where a couple of my friends and I will go down in front of the Bally’s casino on the Strip and basically play worship songs right there with everybody else. It’s really fun.

“Then for promotions for Mission Adventures, I’m usually sitting at my desk praying and asking the LORD for new ideas on how to promote. It’s either making cool videos, or it’s calling churches and trying to promote that way.”

Now you’ve also done some work through The Pier in Vegas as well, right?

“Yeah, it’s a community resource center. Basically what we do is we feed low-income families. We give them boxes of food per number in the household. We get 700 pounds of food from Three Square Food Bank on Mondays. Then I’ll organize it with the local church on Monday afternoon. Then on that Tuesday, people with appointments will come and we give out food.”

From office work to working with kids, how do you keep up your energy level and what motivates you to do this?

“I’m a people person! If I’m around people, I can get a lot of energy. So that’s easy! But if I’m in the office for promotions, it’s a struggle. Some days, you just really got to fight and push through.

“When you tell yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ you’ve just got to remember: ‘If I don’t work now, if I don’t try to get teams now, then nobody’s going to come next summer. Nobody’s getting transformed for Jesus. Nobody’s changing lives. Nothing is happening.’

“Then I usually go on Pandora and find some really upbeat music.”

You’ve inspired kids and adults alike with your life story. You say you’ve transformed from someone who had no hope to someone with purpose, passion, and a lot of joy. Who or what helped you in difficult times?

“My motto is: ‘Who I am hates who I’ve been. But I’m called to love those like I once was.’

“When I say ‘I hate who I was,’ it’s because who I was, was suicidal. Who I was had no purpose. Who I was had no joy. I was a metaphorical walking zombie, if you know what I mean. I had nothing to live for. I was just going through the motions of day-to-day life.

girl hugs Jesus

Lauren is also an artist. She created this cool picture to recognize Jesus has rescued her. (Yes, that is manga Jesus.)

“But God is good. He totally saved me that night I tried to take my life. He wouldn’t let me die. He is the reason I am alive.

“People supported me in that tough time in my life. People I didn’t even know that well were reaching out to me, in my church or at school.

“I mean, you can’t beat suicide in a day. You can’t beat it in a night. You can’t beat it in a month. For some of us, it takes years. But you just have to know: There is life. There is purpose. There is a reason why you’re going through what you’re going through.

“I know something the LORD has really been speaking to me about a lot of crap in my past is: It’s not God’s will for this to happen. But He has a plan for what has happened.

“While I hate who I used to be, I cannot hate those who are like the old me. I have to love on them. I want to reach out to them.”

It’s encouraging to hear how you want to reach out to help others. Can just anybody be missions-minded?

“A lot of people have this mentality of ‘Oh, I have to go to third-world countries: to serve in Africa, to serve in the jungles of the Amazon, to serve in rural places. Well, as I learned in the Philippines, you can live in Beverly Hills and be a missionary. You can be in Tent City and be a missionary. You can be in Reno and be a missionary. You can be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and be a missionary.

Lauren by grafitti wall

Anybody can change the world. Lauren (far left) and her friends can. So can you!

“To be a missionary just means that you accept the mission that God has given you personally and that you go and you share the Gospel.

“You’re going out to your neighbors and saying, ‘Hey, we’re a couple of kids. Can we serve you?’ We don’t need to always speak the name of Jesus. We could just be nice.

Anybody can be a missionary. You just go out and do what the LORD calls you to do. The LORD’s going to equip you to go wherever you need to go. That’s all there is to it.”

What’s next for you?

“I’m going to Dallas, Texas, for seminary school. Then it’s right back to Las Vegas to start the LOVE Revolution and transform Sin City to Saint City!”

Words: Ally Siwajian and Lauren Patton © 2013

Photo credit: Sarah Nilame and Lauren Patton © 2012