Recently, we caught up with Jim Bryson, keyboard guy for MercyMe, and talked about the new album — and a new baby.
Jim, tell me about the Mr. Lovewell project.
“The Generous Mr. Lovewell” is a fictional Sergeant-Pepper-type character that encourages you to love your neighbor. For example we’re trying to get people to mow the grass for the elderly lady next door or pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant — and doing it with the possibility of an open door to share Christ. It’s great to do little projects like that where you can love on someone.
We’re such a different, backwards band. We’ll come up with an album title first, just because it’s an idea, a subject or a theme — or something that really means something to us at that particular time — and then we’ll write a song around it.
I heard the other day about a guy who went through the Starbucks drive-thru and said to the clerk, I want to pay for the people behind me, but I want you to write ‘Love Well’ on their cup. The clerk was excited because he’d actually bought the album the day before. It was a great story. He bought the first cup, and that person bought for the one behind them and then the next person bought for the one behind them — and it continued for almost 200 cars.
Mr. Lovewell even has his own Twitter page, Facebook and all the online resources.
Any feedback from people who don’t listen to your music?
Most of the people in our market are Christians, and they’re making the stories. We have some significant mainstream things coming up where we’ll mention the story and hopefully spark someone to investigate our faith.
What’s happening tour-wise with you guys?
We are off right now. We finished our Rock and Worship Roadshow Tour and we’ve got some summer dates — state fairs and festivals, some individual shows. If you go to our web site — Mercyme.org — you can check out our schedule there. Then, we’ll be doing a fall tour taking with us Phil Wickham, so it should be a lot of fun.
Phil is great.
Oh, he’s awesome. He is such an amazing player, amazing vocalist, and songwriter.
I heard you and Misty recently welcomed an addition to your family.
She was born on May 13th. We’ve already got two little boys, a seven-year-old and a four-and-half-year-old, and now our first little girl, Kate. If I yawn a couple times during this interview you’ll understand why — Daddy is a little sleep deprived.
My wife has such horrible pregnancies with all kinds of health problems. She had to be on bed rest for seven months, which when you have kids is five times as hard. And when your husband travels for a living — and is gone a third or half the year — it’s even harder. My wife was pretty much done with kids because there were just too many risks involved but, lo and behold, Kate came along. To be honest, it was a surprise, but I’m thoroughly thankful because I really wanted a girl.
I imagine it will be tougher traveling, with the little girl at home.
I think the hardest part — most of the guys in the band would agree — is just being away from family and how hard it is on our wives because they’re single moms most of the year.
It’s a hard thing because when you’re getting ready to walk out the door and your kids are throwing up and your wife has the bug and starting to throw up and you’re like, I’m sorry, Honey, I’ve got to go, that is not an easy thing, to say the least. Inevitably, everything that happens always seems to happen when you’re leaving, whether it’s an emergency room visit or the house flooded from the toilet backing up.
By far, the hardest challenge is just being away from family. You miss a lot of ‘first-time’ things with your kids. We’re called to do this, as a ministry, so that makes it much easier and makes it feel right. But if I was just doing a job that required me to go five days out of the week to another state to work on some computers, I don’t know that I could do it. Obviously, there are people that do — kudos to them. But if this wasn’t a ministry and I wasn’t called to do it, I’d probably be staying around the family as much as I possibly could.
How do you and Misty stay close?
You know it is hard, especially these last nine months since she has been pregnant. We literally haven’t been able to go to church and most the time during tour I’m not home on weekends anyway — usually we come home on Mondays and then fly or drive back out on Wednesday nights.
While we were off tour, she was here on bed rest. When I came home, the nanny would go home and I would take over. So it wasn’t like I could just say, Alright, Honey, I’m going to take the kids to church and you have fun here laying in bed by yourself. So instead, we would improvise and do a lot of stuff here at the house.
Sounds like a season of flexibility.
It’s definitely been a hard season. I’m off for a couple of weeks, so I’m here to help her with the older kids and, she takes care of Kate at night. There’s not a whole lot I can do on the feeding end, but I’ll help change diapers and take care of Kate during the day. It’s a hard time to get through. We’re just waiting for a little more normalcy where we can get back into the swing of things.
You two need some fun in your marriage.
Man, I think the last time she went into town was for a doctor visit. While on bed rest, and if she was feeling okay, we would try to go to IHOP.
The last time we actually went out on a date and did a movie, it was last fall, October, not too long after she got pregnant. So once things settle down and we can get Kate on more of a schedule, then we might go catch a movie and grab dinner. But we’re kind of in a holding pattern right now.
You have a good excuse for slacking off on the date nights.
Can you tell me some specific, maybe unusual, ways that you served Misty during her pregnancy?
I try to do as much as I can for her. We had a nanny, but no matter who you have in the house they’re not going to do it like you want it done. So she would try to do too much. I would make her lay back down and say, No, let me do it. I might be horrible at cleaning compared to you or I might let the dishes stack up a little bit more before I rinse them off and put them in the dishwasher, but we’re making it through this.
That’s pretty hard sometimes, getting up at four o’clock in the morning to catch a flight and, then, fly back home and drive an hour and a half from the airport; all you want to do is lay down and go to sleep. I tried to encourage her with emails and cards and whatever I could to make her smile and remind her why she’s in the bed.
I’m always reminded that I need to treat Misty like I did the day I knew she was ‘the one’. Don’t slack off.
Copyright © 2010 by Jim Mueller, President and co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries.