10 Years Of Carry On

This month’s blog is a moment to step into the way back machine!  In 2014, I had the opportunity to release my first album, Carry On.  It’s something I haven’t mentioned much here on the blog (or the accompanying podcast), but I have talked a decent amount about my music overall.  Especially projects I’ve been involved in within the recent past (4-5 years).  But as I looked at the calendar and realized 2024 was approaching, I felt it would be appropriate to hit “pause” and reflect.  And in that reflection, give God the glory!

All Creation cries to its Creator 
In these troubled times, we need a Savior 
In the storms of life, You are an anchor 
In the pain and strife, we find Your favor

Now you might be wondering, why should I care about Carry On?  Good question!  It wasn’t this huge release that made waves in the Christian music industry and to this day it’s not a project that many people have heard of (outside of family and friends and some places that have been gracious enough to host me!).  But it is a project that left an indelible mark on my life and was the entry into much of what I do with music and ministry.  In fact, Carry On was and is in many ways a gateway that has led to other things I do:  whether with As Bold As Lions or Derek Charles Johnson music.  

A bit of history:  in 2013 I was working as a pharmacist and also a part-time worship leader.  The juxtaposition of those two career paths alone made for interesting days.  But in 2009 I made the decision to go back to Bible college, pursue a path in worship ministry (i.e. become a worship pastor) and after several years of planning and preparing, I graduated (2011) and began working in a local church in South Dakota.  The season between 2011 and 2013 was intense.  It involved me working a full-time pharmacist job while leading worship and building upon our church’s worship ministry.  We didn’t live in the town our church and the pharmacy was in…it was a commute each day from Ellendale, North Dakota (the home of Trinity Bible College, the school I attended) and Aberdeen, South Dakota.  It was roughly an hours drive both ways. 

In the longing I wait for You 
In this in-between, I wait for You  
I wait for You  
Oh God of Heaven God of all my days 
Your ways are perfect, they are not my ways 
And I will declare that You are good

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8,9

A look inside my heart and passions during this time would show what fueled much of the lyrics and content that comprises Carry On.  Desperately longing for God to open doors.  Waiting for His timing and trusting that He is good despite not seeing the answer.  Making sure my foundation in Him was secure, because the shifting sands of life would not be enough to stand upon.  My back and forth commutes provided time to think, to ponder, and to write.  Lyrics became part of my drive and voice memos recorded on my phone became a chance to work on demos and ideas once I got home.  Songs were birthed from this experience and in the bedroom with a guitar or piano guiding the way.  These songs were gathered up through years of trying to see where God was leading and what He was doing.  

I can’t stay in the weeds of all the details through this blog as it would get quite lengthy.  Suffice to say, in 2013 I connected with a producer named Tommee Profitt who, at the time, lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I had sort of “spammed” some folks with YouTube clips of rough (and I mean rough) versions of some of my songs.  Tommee in his graciousness replied back to one of my videos and said “If you ever want to do more with your songs, let me know.  I’d love to work with you.”  I’m grateful for Tommee and the opportunity I had in the fall of 2013.  You can look at his bio and where he has gone musically-speaking in the past 10 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommee_Profitt).  It’s pretty amazing.  

From the moment that our lives begin 
To end of our days 
You watch over every step we take 
You are good in all Your ways

So after recording for a week with Tommee and staying with my Aunt Judy in Holland, Michigan, the songs that had just been ideas in my head started coming to life.  This was a surreal experience and something I will never forget.  For a budding singer-songwriter and worship leader, the chance to record and put something out there permanently was amazing.  Songwriters sometimes refer to their songs as their “babies” and the attachment is a bit of a birthing process (hang with me here).  Once released out into the world, they are an extension of ourselves.  Not only ourselves but if we are in Christ, they reflect our walk in Him and in this, our desire to bring Him glory.  It’s a vulnerable process and in this, the songs of Carry On were my first attempt to share what God had laid on my heart.  They reflected the journal entries of many years.  

I have much more I could say with this release and details that have come together leading up to and after recording the album.  How God led my family to move to the town in which our church and my pharmacy job was located (all in the midst of praying for His will about even doing the record).  How God miraculously healed my son Micah who had a severe epileptic event in the months leading up to my recording sessions (he is completely healed and seizure-free, praise God).  How my sister approached a music festival promoter in my hometown (Duluth, Minnesota) with a copy of Carry On and how that relationship has led to my involvement with City On The Hill music festival as the opening act since 2015 (check out this years lineup:  https://cityonthehillmusicfest.com/). In all of this, as stated above, Carry On helped pave the way.  Through the Lord’s providence, the album has helped my family and I literally “carry on” and trust, moving from North Dakota to South Dakota and now Tennessee.  

I wanna run I wanna run 
Into the open arms of love 
Your grace is all the covering I need 
This Prodigal Son 
Returns to the One 
Who gave His very life for me 
His grace is all the covering I need

Guys on March 11, 2024 Carry On will turn 10 years old.  In some ways it feels like longer than 10 years.  But in these past 10 years I have seen the Lord provide again and again.  The message still resonates with me when I hear these songs.  As I’ve dusted a few off and recorded some acoustic versions on YouTube, I’ve been reminded that He is the same God who spoke during those commutes.  He’s the same God who speaks now in 2024 as life looks a lot different (now with 5 kids instead of 3).  And He’ll continue to be the same God in 10 more years; if the Lord tarries.  

There’s not a 3-point message today.  But I hope the message is clear from the music and the reminiscing.  He watches over His own.  His plans are for good and not harm.  And He is calling us to trust Him beyond what we saw yesterday, last week, month or year.  Carry On is a monument (an “Ebenezer stone” if you will) of His faithfulness.  I look back with fondness, knowing the path He’s led me on has purpose and if I trust Him, He’ll keep leading.  I hope you’ve come to know that same God and have put your trust in His Son, Jesus. 

Thankful to you guys who have listened and been part of this journey with me.  If you are new to this ministry, I invite you to come along and start.  Let’s pursue Christ together.  

I love you guys!  

Listen to Carry On on these streaming platforms: 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5T10h7kXZh91qrBAVoKiio?si=w7sH3tNYQDqbB6EwPJEBvw

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/carry-on/836420634

Pandora: https://pandora.app.link/xBg2W5vHnHb

Amazon Music:  https://amazon.com/music/player/albums/B00IX6BIQI?marketplaceId=ATVPDKIKX0DER&musicTerritory=US&ref=dm_sh_Q280kvfLyQJPNiNag2kh0YV0D

CDs available for purchase here:  https://derekcharlesjohnson.com/product/284877

YouTube acoustic versions:

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Let’s connect: 

Email:  info@derekcharlesjohnson.com 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/derekcharlesjohnson1/ 

Instagram:  http://instagram.com/derekcharlesjohnson 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17


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