Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Update on life!

Well I've been away from my own bed now for almost a month and will be back home on Friday! Pretty crazy when I realize how long I've been gone.

I've spent most of the month working on recording new songs for our album. We're all pretty excited about how well things are turning out. The interesting thing about this project is that we have three different producers. Us, Mark Heimermann and Greg Collins. Greg comes from the mainstream world of recording, Mark from the Christian world and us . . . well this is the first time we've fully produced anything on our own so we'll see. So with all those different producers and us being the same band I can't wait to hear final mixes from everyone to see the differences.

My schedule for the next couple of weeks is a little ridiculous. We'll be flying home on Friday which I'm sure will be crazy but I think that could make it kind of fun. Hopefully the weather at home will be fine. I’m home for three days then off to the other side of Toronto to be with my wife’s family for about three days. Then I fly to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl and a New Year’s Eve gig. Then things get a little dicey. I either go to Nashville and record one day then fly home or I fly home from Atlanta then come back to Nashville a week later to record.

Good thing my family has been with me for the last two and a half weeks!

Sorry for the blog neglect lately. There are quite a few things that come before my blog but with some travelling time coming up where I’m on my own, hopefully I can get back into the groove!

Merry Christmas!!



Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sharing Dreams

First of all, welcome to my new blog page again! Thanks to Darcy’s Mama and Kathryn for keeping up some great conversation in the comments. Check out the comments on the last entry to see what I’m talking about.

A while ago my wife Sherri blogged about something we call a do-over. It’s a technique we sometimes use to start a conversation all over again and clear things up. It can be pretty effective in preventing a melt down in communication between spouses. If you have an extra minute check it out.

Well, today I want to tell you about another one of our little “techniques” for keeping a fun marriage. Every once in a while I have some pretty crazy dreams just like pretty much everyone who is reading this. Sometimes they are even wacky enough that I just have to share them.

Sharing dreams is weird business though. I mean, it’s not like it really happened, none of the story is true. In fact, most times I can’t even remember the correct details. Well, I guess it’s true that it happened in my mind but is there really any point in sharing it? On a 10-hour drive, sharing weird dreams can be quite entertaining but we might as well just be making up stories and telling them to each other. For all I know that is what happens!

So anyway, our rule now is we can only share our dream if the spouse is in it. This turns out to be quite fun. The dream telling most often starts off by me explaining the dream as “it happened” then I remember, or am reminded, that Sherri needs to be in the dream too. So I weave her into the story and it always has to end in some “romantic” way. Kind of like this: Sherri is about to fall off the roof of a tall building and land in a giant can of tomato soup that has dragons swimming in it, when suddenly I jump 20 feet off the ground and catch her in mid air then magically teleport us both into a private airplane. While on the airplane Sherri gets a pedicure and a manicure while I’m giving her a massage. Eventually we land on a private tropical resort island where we have a full week to be together alone.

Weird eh?

In the interest of avoiding stagnation in life and in marriage I think this idea works out great! If nothing else we usually get a laugh out of it.



Friday, November 25, 2005

A new side to the abortion issue.

I was reading through a couple new blogs this morning and came across this from Dr. George Grant. I think you should read the whole blog but here's a short excerpt:

A UN agency contract researcher says the prevalence of abortion and infanticide targeting girls has caused a critical global gender imbalance--with a disparity of more than 200 million worldwide. According to his report, delivered to international health officials this past week, the girls are “missing” because of a practice he calls “gendercide.”

I did some searching after reading Dr. Grant's article to find some information about changing birthday celebrations to the day of conception. I once remember hearing that in some culture this was the case, which is why I did the search. All I discovered in my search however, was that some people like to celebrate their day of conception and there are even birthday cards for such occasions. I think it would be a wonderful idea if we all made the decision to switch the meaning of birthday to conception day. Sure it would mess up the definition of the word birthday but if our mindset could change to accept this switch I think it could make a huge difference in this "gendercide".



Thursday, November 24, 2005

Snowy U.S. Thanksgiving Run

After about three weeks off from running, I wait until it's -8C, snowing and quite windy to get started again. On top of that I brought my boy Jonah too. That Chariot stroller is great for just about any weather though. Jonah even slept for about 30 minutes!!
The interesting thing I've found about running is that my first 10-20 minutes is quite often the hardest. It's almost like I'm not totally warmed up until I've run two miles! That's especially true in weather like this.

Happy Thanksgiving my American friends and aliens!!

Even if you don't live in the U.S., any excuse to be reminded to be thankful is always good. I heard a great sermon about how we really don't deserve anything we have. I'm not going to go into it anymore than that because I'll likely ruin the point but having an attitude of thankfulness and not an expectation of receiving what you deserve, always goes over better. So think about what you are thankful for, even the smallest things, and give thanks to God, the giver of everything.



Welcome To The Other Side and HDTV

Welcome everyone who used to visit me at myblogsite. Boy, am I glad to not be using that anymore! ha ha. Seriously, it's great to start all over again here. You'll find all the old posts here from my other blog, however, the comments didn't make the switch so I'm sorry about that. So make sure you select "add bookmark" right away, before you forget.

While working on html code and giving myself a headachelast night, I watched the Toronto Maple Leafs (aka The Leafs) play a really bad hockey game. The hockey was bad, for the Leafs anyway, but watching it on Dad's new HDTV in HD was unbelieveable. Hockey looks amazing in HD. I'd seen football before and that looked great but moving to HD for hockey is a huge difference. So we watched the Leafs in HDTV on TSNHD. Then I noticed Dad was watching CSI in HDTV on CBSHD. I think I know what all those letters stand for . ? . ?



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Great Expectations and MyBlogSite

First things first, myblogsite is shutting down which means I have to move. In fact my access will be done as of Nov 30th!! I guess that’s what you get when you’re not paying anything. No big deal really except for the time it will take to move all my posts over and the fact that I don’t want to lose any of you who read this regularly. It looks like I’ll be moving over to blogger like most other people. I’m in the process of setting it up right now so I’ll post my new address once I’m ready to go.

Thanks for coming to my blog and over the past few months! I never expected to get as many hits as I have. Here are some stats that myblogsite gives me. It’ll be interesting to see how much they change when I switch to blogger and a new stat tracking system.

Average hits per day: 180-220 (a guess after viewing the stats)
The most hits in one day: 457
Most hits in one month: 7,995 October 2005
Just to see how much it has grown April’s average daily hits was about 100 and for the month of April I had 3,332 hits.
Thanks everyone!!!
Most people come to my blog from Sherri’s blog, the Downhere blog, Jeremy’s blog and Dale’s blog. Also there are unusual amounts of people that reach my blog when they search for Thermopylae.

On to other things . . .

I’m halfway through Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I enjoy the writing even though I have to concentrate harder to know what’s going on. There is something I appreciate about all the details he gives even though they may not be necessary. I find that Dickens can likely get away with writing the longest sentences that don’t qualify as being run-on. It’s quite an ability I think. I would get halfway through a sentence and not remember how it started because he had taken it to such a different place. The story itself hasn’t been super interesting to me which is why I’m not picking it up to read whenever possible. This likely has to do with growing up playing video games and watching TV the way it is now. We’re just so used to things happening fast and in Great Expectations it goes by pretty slow. While in a Barnes and Noble I picked up one of those condensed notes version of the book and read through parts of that. This really helped me to understand the characters and the story better and got me back into the book. I think I’ll do that again on my next “classic” reading book. The bad news here is that I’ve renewed it once and I guess that’s all the library is giving me on this one even though I’m only halfway through. So I’m on to my next book The Tipping Point.

Oh yes, almost forgot. The new Harry Potter is excellent! Lots missing from the book but hey, it was a long one. They got most of the important stuff. That’s another blog.



Sunday, November 13, 2005


I’m sitting in a hotel in Valdosta, GA after a spending a great weekend in Florida with a bunch of middle schooler’s and some highschooler’s. We were at a United Methodist Camp/Retreat center, which was surrounded by a lake. It was quite pretty and the weather was perfect, especially for a Canadian in November. You can check out some pics of our good times at our road manager Jessica's blog.

There was a guest speaker there from Minneapolis named Bob Stromburg. He was a speaker/stand-up comedian/physical comedian/actor/hand shadow-puppet master. He did a great job with these students and kept their attention the whole time, which is no small feat for a speaker. He certainly held my attention.

One thing that stood out to me was his lack of inhibition. I think being a comedian and also being an actor makes it necessary and also allows him the freedom to be inhibited. He did some pretty crazy stuff that if he just pulled it off on a street corner somewhere you would likely think something was wrong with him mentally. He also memorized quite a big section of text from The Message (the sermon on the mount) and reenacted that sermon being preached as if it was today. Not something he could have done if he was an inhibited type of person.

This all just reminded me of my own inhibition and how it bothers me. I was talking to my wife about this tonight and she kinda feels the same way. So I figure we’re not the only ones. I bet some people who read my blog feel like this too! So . . . what to do? I’m not sure. I’m thinking maybe some dance lessons, or acting lessons, or acrobat lessons, or . . . I don’t know. Anyway, these are just some random thoughts going through my head tonight.

Some other lesson options: Tae-Kwon-Do . . . Karate . . . Judo . . . Sumo . . . clown . . . Santa . . .


p.s. Sorry about the advertisements at the top of my blog. Sometimes they are a little inappropriate. Booourns to myblogsite when that happens.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Running Map Pics

Fargo, ND - It's Really Nice

I found this really nice path along the river and through some parks. Anytime I can find a run that takes me past a river, a lake, or any sort of body of water it seems to satiate my aesthetic appetite. I saw a sign that said "Welcome to Fargo, the city of parks." I was really impressed with the city. If you have seen the movie it kind of takes away from the fact that it's actually a decent town.

You can see at the bottom of the map where I cross over the river at 1st ave. At this point I had no idea where I was going, I just followed a rough map on my GPS. It doesn't tell you where streets are but it will show you where you started and from that it's possible to navigate your way back to the beginning. So you can see a bit of weaving in and out of streets through the downtown area after I crossed that bridge. 6.3mi in 58:00. Not too impressive but hey at least I'm running!!

Lakota, IA

The first of four running maps made with my Garmin Forerunner 201 GPS watch. I used the data from the watch and input it into to come up with the maps I have here.

Jeremy and I had run through the flat country of Iowa. You can't really tell from this picture but we were out in the sticks and it was beautiful. It was warmer than usual for this time of year which meant we were still able to run with shorts on. Making the switch to pants is always depressing. Running in the country on a cool, not too windy day is always great.

Chanhassen, MN - Run #1

We had about six days in the Minneapolis area last week with most of them being off days. We spent some time at the Mall of America and also got some time for running. So this is the first run I did. Jeremy ran with me for the first half of the run then turned back to get some lifting in. This is a really pretty area. Lots of lakes and nice trails to run on too. A guy passed me on what looked like cross country skis with wheels on them and there were lots of dogs out for walks too. I also passed a man who was walking his cat in a little wheeled cage! Weird.

This run was 9.56mi and 1.5hr. My watch tells me I burned 1179 calories! I think that's low. That was my longest run in a while and it felt great!

Chanhassen, MN - Run #2

I decided to try another route this day. There was a nice paved trail along the road which worked out great. Not quite as nice as running along a river or anything but it's always good when you can avoid running on the road. It's funny looking at the map because I only remember seeing one of those lakes while I was running. There are so many bodies of water up there!

I didn't have a planned route to run when I left but with the help of my little Garmin Forerunner 201 I was able to run pretty much the exact distance I wanted to. Totals for that run were 7.43mi in 1:10 and 1004 calories.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

One Down

The Secret Garden was great! I finished it during two days of traveling. I’ve heard that there is a movie too so I will have to check it out. I am glad however, that I did read the book first so that I was able to use my own brain to create the images in the book before I see what the movie creators saw in their mind.

It was almost as if I had read that book when I was kid based on the outlook on life it presents. Or at least who I am today really agrees with the story. I look forward to reading this one to Jonah for sure when he’s old enough to sit and listen to a book without pictures. I’d like for him to grow up believing that he will have more life if he surrounds himself with life. And that being outdoors and watching the plants and animals come to life and the season’s change is a very healthy thing to do. In our time of TV, computers, sports, and everything else we manage to use up our time doing, I really want our children to enjoy just going outside and playing for a few hours. Hopefully if I read this to them while they are young enough I can brainwash them into this belief.

There are many timeless things and timeless ideas and I think that even though this story was written so long ago, before there were all the distractions we face today, the idea Frances Hodgson Burnett presents still can apply to us today.

I’ve started Great Expectations now by Dickens and it looks like that will be a slightly slower read. It’s not quite as easy going as The Secret Garden but it has been enjoyable all the same. It makes me feel as if I have been transported back in time fifty years.

Looks like all the writers I enjoy seem to at least start out in England. Interesting. Maybe we should move . . .



Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Hemingway

Well I believe I have found Roald Dahl’s must read book list. I picked up Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” from the library the other day to reread it. If you are not familiar with the story, Matilda is a brilliant little girl with nasty parents who know nothing of her talent. They don’t understand why she would want to read when there are perfectly good programs on the “telly” every night. I like how Dahl makes nasty parents TV lovers. That cracks me up. He must have really disliked television. I guess he saw life before TV and life after so maybe he’s got the best perspective. Anyway, she’s a child genius who does a few things that make you feel like justice was done.

Matilda is a five year old who can read practically anything. So after she finished reading all of the children’s books in the library she asks the librarian what she should read next. The librarian gives her Great Expectations by Charles Dickens to start then as she completes each book the librarian gives her another. Eventually Dahl lists all of the books Matilda has read. This is what I’m guessing are some of his favorite books. So for anyone else interested here’s the list. I picked up great Expectations and The Secret Garden to start with. I think I’ll try to read through most of this list over the coming months.

I’d love to know of any favorites from the list that I should pick up next.


The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Gone To Earth – Mary Webb
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Good Companions – JB Priestley
Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Red Pony – John Steinbeck


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Factory Work and Swearing

I just spent the last two days working in a factory. I didn’t have the worst job in the world but it was pretty bad. The whole time I was working I couldn’t help but think how unnecessary this job was. Without trying to explain what I did, it just seemed to me that the job they were paying three of us to do could have somehow been avoided altogether. Then again, I’m a musician who plays in a band. I know nothing about the process of plating steel.

I stood in one place doing one motion over and over in a very noisy and dusty environment. This meant I had earplugs and earmuffs on my head as well as a full facemask to keep out the polluted air. It made my head feel heavy. So with all that gear on, there is no way you could communicate with anyone around you. You could stop and yell whenever you wanted though, as well as sing as loud as you want and make all the weird sounds that you normally stop yourself from making. Well maybe that last one is just me. Fortunately for me I only had to endure two days of it.

While I was there I forgot about the bubble I live my life in. I was in the change room and a guy came in, walked up to his locker, sighed and while exhaling simply said f#%k. I have to admit, it made me laugh. Then once conversation got rolling, so many F-bombs were dropped that if this scene of my life were a movie it would certainly have received an R rating. Most people in school or working outside of churches deal with this all the time, but like I said, I live in a bubble, playing Christian events, going from church to church, constantly with likeminded people. The Bible makes it clear that we shouldn’t use God’s name lightly or meaninglessly, so when that happens I often wince, but any of the other standard North American swears often make me laugh more than anything. I think it’s just because I rarely hear swears. Is it bad that I find some swearing funny? (At least the dumb pointless swearing.) Am I way off here? I figure that some words that we use everyday are considered nasty elsewhere and in other places in the world some of our nasty words are acceptable.

So as a Christian how do I respond to swearing? How about this from Col. 3:8.

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

What is filthy language? I mean, there are some pretty obvious things that fit into this category but is saying a$$ filthy? Is saying poop filthy? Real poop is filthy but is the word filthy? I don’t know. I normally just try to avoid the grey areas as much as possible. If it’s questionable, then I avoid it. That’s the easy answer. Certainly saying any of the well-known four letter words doesn’t make me sound smarter.



Thursday, October 13, 2005

ipod, itunes and downloading TV

Well the day has arrived! Of course it was Apple that it made it happen. I’m telling you, those guys have a direct feed from my brain and know how to create everything I want. As my friend’s young nephew said while opening birthday gifts “I didn’t even know I wanted that.” That’s how I feel every time a new Apple product is released.

So yes of course I want an ipod but I just haven’t got one yet and like anything else as soon as you get one they release a new one. Well the new one they just announced is groundbreaking. Well maybe it’s not the ipod that is groundbreaking but the technology that feeds it, namely itunes. The fact that the new ipod plays video has caused Apple to create the relationships to make it possible to buy TV shows and music videos and even some short films through itunes. You can buy an episode of Lost for $2!! That is crazy! I’m guessing that movies should be able to be bought online shortly now that the infrastructure is there. It’s too bad that the downloading lesson had to be learned the hard way by both the music industry and the film industry. Even with just a little bit of vision for the future I think we can all see that this will change the future of television and movies.

In keeping with Apple’s ability to tap into my brain they had Wynton Marsalis play at the end of Steve Job’s last keynote address where he announced all of this new stuff. If you don’t want to watch the whole address (1hr35m) skip to the last quarter of it to catch Wynton. He just keeps getting better. I didn’t think it was possible. He creates some sounds from his trumpet that I have never heard before.



Harry Potter Has Me In His Spell

You haven’t heard me talk about what book I’ve been reading lately because I’ve been on a Harry Potter vacation for the past month and a bit. My sister Tracy is a big fan and has all of the books. I had seen the movies but not read any of the books so I thought it was time to start. Well I’ve read the first four books and only have two left. The good thing is the books are great. The bad thing is that they are so addicting that it’s all I’ve been reading. Is too much fiction bad?

It’s an interesting thing reading a book after seeing the movie. My brain didn’t have to do any of the work of creating mental pictures of characters or buildings or much really. It’s kind of nice to have an exact picture of what Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks like from the movie but I wonder if my mind would have created something else. At least I’ve got book four read before that movie comes out next month.

This is why reading is so much better for our minds than watching videos. That is if you want to work your mind. With video the images are all presented to us immediately. We don’t have to create pictures in our mind. We don’t have to picture a short plump little girl with a blue ribbon tied to her ponytail chewing bubble gum while walking to school with her pink Pocahontas backpack on. She just walks across our screen and it’s done. I think I may be just regurgitating this from something I read about children and TV. Makes perfect sense to me though.

Maybe I will have to reread The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe before that arrives in theaters so I have my own mental image first. That made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory extra enjoyable. That was a book I knew quite well and read right before the movie was released.

So all that to say, no I haven’t stopped reading, it's just that the greatest wizard in the world has a spell on me that I can't escape! And why not, Halloween is just around the corner.



Thursday, September 29, 2005

Regrow Your Organs

I got to thinking today about microwave ovens. I was going to have a cup of tea and I was thinking how glad I was that I was having water that was boiled in the kettle to make my tea and not water boiled in the microwave. Whenever I have microwave boiled water I always feel like it doesn’t taste as good, whether it’s hot chocolate or tea. I’m guessing if I didn’t know what I was getting I likely wouldn’t know the difference. But when I do know, I want to see that kettle with the red hot heat underneath it and steam flying out before I pour it on my tea bag. Does this make me a boiled water purest? Anyway, that doesn’t matter unless you are serving me a hot drink. What does matter is that microwave ovens are weird. You put something in there and magically after a set amount of time it’s warm or really hot. If you start thinking about it you start to realize how weird it is. Kinda like when you say a word many times in a row and it eventually doesn’t even sound like it normally does.

Well, that stuff is weird but how about mice that can regrow body parts and organs? It’s happening, today, in our world. Check out this article.

Mighty Mice Regrow Organs



Regrow Your Organs

I got to thinking today about microwave ovens. I was going to have a cup of tea and I was thinking how glad I was that I was having water that was boiled in the kettle to make my tea and not water boiled in the microwave. Whenever I have microwave boiled water I always feel like it doesn’t taste as good, whether it’s hot chocolate or tea. I’m guessing if I didn’t know what I was getting I likely wouldn’t know the difference. But when I do know, I want to see that kettle with the red hot heat underneath it and steam flying out before I pour it on my tea bag. Does this make me a boiled water purest? Anyway, that doesn’t matter unless you are serving me a hot drink. What does matter is that microwave ovens are weird. You put something in there and magically after a set amount of time it’s warm or really hot. If you start thinking about it you start to realize how weird it is. Kinda like when you say a word many times in a row and it eventually doesn’t even sound like it normally does.

Well, that stuff is weird but how about mice that can regrow body parts and organs? It’s happening, today, in our world. Check out this article.

Mighty Mice Regrow Organs



Monday, September 26, 2005

Share What's Yours

It’s a boy!! Parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, siblings and friends are all excited. Nine months of waiting and discomfort for the mother followed by one day (hopefully only one) of serious discomfort and a beautiful creation has been welcomed into the world.

After some time of recovery the parents are ready to make their first real public outing with their precious newborn son to their church. Making sure all the diapers and wipes and blankets and extra clothes and spare pacifier and whatever else might be needed are packed they load their newborn into the car and make the drive with the baby on board sign proudly hanging in the back.

They arrive and walk in with the car seat hanging awkwardly from Dad’s arm. As they make their way to their seats their friends spot them. Before you know it their baby ends up in a friends arms being ooed and ahhed at by everyone. It’s an exciting time for them all as they’ve all been waiting for this couple to have a child. Mom and Dad start talking to friends they haven’t been able to see for a little while, catching up on all that’s been happening. Eventually the music starts and everyone finds their seats. Mom looks around to see which friend their newborn son ended up with. To her surprise their baby is in the arms of a woman she has never met before. Feeling somewhat betrayed and almost negligent Mom walks over and retrieves her son from the woman she’s never met.

Have you ever seen this happen? I have. It always shocks me. I’m glad it never really happened to my wife and me. Man, that freaks me out. If it’s not your baby don’t go passing it around!

I think this story can have a few other applications. Try filling in the blank yourself.

If it’s not your _________ then don’t go passing it around.



Tuesday, September 20, 2005

We Should Sing

I don’t call myself a singer by any stretch. I can carry a tune just fine and know when I am out of tune and can even usually fix it before it sounds too bad but even though I occasionally sing in front of many people I generally won’t sing in front of anyone unless they are singing too. Singing is such a personal thing. If I’m singing then I am opening myself up to being judged. I’m exposing myself, letting people hear my imperfections. I don’t want to do that. I only want people to see my good side, to know the things I am proficient at, to see me excel at what I do.

This is why singing is so good, especially in a group. Anytime I’m in a group setting and a sing-a-long breaks out (which has maybe happened twice) I always think, “This is stupid. What a dumb idea.” But when we are done I’ve always had a good time and feel closer to the people I was singing with. I think it’s the willingness to open yourself up to other people to show your real self. A blog I did a while back called ‘risking stupid’ eluded to this idea too. Allowing yourself to open up and not hide your real self can be so empowering. It is also almost always enjoyable.

I think about being at dances. I never want to start dancing when things get started. I am so afraid of looking like a fool. Eventually I go through this whole thought process though and get the nerve to jump in there and make a fool of myself anyway. By the end I’ve had a great time and wish I had joined in sooner.

Being open and vulnerable and real is all anyone wants from the people around them. This is likely why this whole blogging thing has taken off. For some reason us bloggers seem to be able to express our true selves when we have the time to sit and write it down. I hope by being real and vulnerable in my blogs I will be held accountable to everything I say. As much as I hate typing that, it is the reason I write in the first place, to grow as a person and not stagnate.

So, all that said, we should sing in church and with our friends and with our families to grow our communities and become closer. Before we had TV and radio and computers, we did this all the time. Maybe it is something we need to get back to?



Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Subjectivity and Creativity

“It almost goes without saying that subjectivity is not the friend of the commercial artist.
Everyone's a critic; everyone thinks they have a lock on what colors work, what images convey the right message and what's truly hot in the market already.”

A quote taken from Fugitive Musings.

Even though he’s coming at art from a different world than I am these same things apply. Reading his blog hit me because it’s sort of what’s on my mind these days.

The band I play for “Downhere” is in the process of writing and choosing songs that will go on our next album. It’s such a crazy process. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 demos now I’m guessing and there are some really great songs in there. So how do we decide which songs go on the album? How do we figure out which songs will have the most appeal, which ones the most people will like the best? How many fast songs, slow songs, different sounding songs, songs in a different meter, songs with different lead singers?

Radio has an interesting way of doing this, at least in our industry. They’ll take sound clips of let’s say 50 songs and play them for a sample group of people. These people then rate each clip they have heard. The crazy thing is that they mix in new songs and old songs. I don’t know about you but if I have even heard a song once I almost always like it better the second time. Take the new Coldplay album for instance. I wasn’t really into it when I listened to it for the first time or even the second time. Then my brother in law Bob told me how much he was enjoying it so I made myself go back and listen to it a few times with more of an open mind. Now I really like it, at least the first half, likely because those are the ones I’ve listened to most often.

So who decides what is good and what isn’t? Take a look at these charts from R&R and figure out how many songs you like or even know.


“Right Here”



“Pon De Replay”
(Def Jam/IDJMG)

“Doesn't Remind Me”

Mariah Carey
“We Belong Together”

“Listen To Your Heart”

Pussycat Dolls f/Busta Rhymes
“Don't Cha”

Kelly Clarkson
“Behind These Hazel Eyes”

Christian CHR
Jeremy Camp
“Lay Down My Pride”
(BEC/Tooth & Nail)

(Sparrow/EMI CMG)

“Burn For You”
(ForeFront/EMI CMG)

John Reuben f/Matt Theissen

“Strong Tower”
(BEC/Tooth & Nail)

For full listings go here and click on formats.

So what I’m getting at is that I don’t think any of us has a better idea than anyone else as to what people will like. When we are dealing with subjective art everyone’s opinion is just as valuable. I guess the program director at the big radio station would have an opinion that would be more valuable but only because he decides what to play. And whatever he plays people will eventually know and probably even like only because they’ve heard it so many times!

So there you go. A little look into what goes on while preparing to record a new hit album that everyone will love and want to own. As you can see this whole having a hit song thing is quite elusive but also quite necessary to the survival of a band. I just pray that God would show favor to us and that program directors at radio stations will somehow be attracted to our songs no matter what we decide on.



Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina and Parenting

Well I can’t write a blog without at least mentioning Katrina. For many people out there this is the only thing that is going on in their lives right now. I don’t really have any profound thoughts to share about it but I will say please remember and realize how devastating this has been to many people’s lives. I just found out that parents of a friend lost something like three or four homes that they owned and likely everything in it. I don’t have any links for you to go to to help out but I’m sure if you are reading this than you have already been to other blogs that have ways you can help. If not, check out some of the links to your right here. This Guy Falls Down, Ethos and Shlog have some great options.

Let’s try to move on from Katrina for just a little bit. Last night I was reading a selection from Devotions For Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas (thanks Generation Ex Files). This book looks at parenting in the spiritual sense or sacred sense. Many of the devotions help the reader to realize how parenting can bring you into a closer relationship with God.

Last night’s chapter was titled They Just Don’t Understand. Man, what a picture he painted in the first couple of paragraphs. A mother has a daughter who has difficulty walking properly. The mother spends time researching her daughter’s problem, she spends money bringing her to doctors, she spends time at the doctor and 4 hours a week in rush hour traffic getting her there. The great thing is that all this work is making a difference for her daughter’s walking difficulties. The sad thing is that one day as mother was picking up daughter, daughter said, “I’ll never forgive you for doing this to me.” WHAT! All I can think is what kind of ungrateful brat says something like that?

Then the writer says this. “It’s one thing to sacrifice for your child; it’s another thing to have that child look at your sacrifice and act as though it were child abuse.” Ouch! I couldn’t help but think about how often I do that to God. How many times have I looked at the sacrifice he gave and just ignored it? Creating a child that has its own free will has such a great opportunity for incredible love as it does for breaking one’s heart. I guess this is what God goes through with us constantly.

I know I’m quite early on in this parenting thing but as tough as it can be I’m glad God uses it to help us understand who He is better.

I wonder if the more children you have the better you understand God? After all he’s got millions . . .



Sunday, August 28, 2005

Divorce and Cancer are Sad Themes

Sometimes in your life do you notice that there seem to be themes for a while? Times when certain subjects seem to keep coming up?

I remember when my Nanny passed away because of cancer back in 2000 and for a while it seemed like everything was about cancer. Next thing I knew cancer took a very close family friend. Then my Mother-in-law finds out she has cancer but praise God after surgery and cancer treatment it all seems to be gone now. At that point in my life I was really noticing how many people out there are affected by it. My ears perked up whenever I heard the word cancer and I started to realize how much of an impact cancer has on everyone’s life. Today I’m much more aware of it but not like I was when it was directly affecting my life. Thankfully that theme is over for now.

How about a happier theme? Maybe this one is more ‘a time of life’ type of theme? One day you find out a good friend or relative is pregnant then all of a sudden it seems like you get a call every other week about someone else who is pregnant and babies are popping out everywhere. Or at least that’s what it seems like. My son Jonah was born in June 04 then my nephew in November 04 then another nephew January 05. See what I’m talking about!

Well anyway, I feel like I’m in one of those times right now. I’ve been in this theme before. I guess it’s one of those recurring themes. I met a new friend recently who must have been about my age and she shared with me that her and her ex got a divorce this winter after five years of marriage! Thankfully there were no children involved. Then I was talking to my wife who was on a MOPS retreat this weekend where she learned of another couple that seemed to have everything going for them but can’t hold their relationship together. This time they do have kids! Every time I hear about people about to divorce or who are going through a divorce or who have had a divorce I feel like I get this ache inside. It’s like God allows me to feel just a glimpse of their pain. I hate it!

I could go on with example after example as I’m sure you are thinking right now of someone you know who has gone through this. I’m not sure I really have a point to this blog except to say that it sucks when people get divorced. Like you didn’t already know that. It sucks for the couple that made promises to each other and it sucks for the kids who once had two parents that promised to be together forever to raise them. If you are one of these kids you should check out this blog. Author and friend Jen Abbas wrote a book just for you called Generation Ex.

To try and make a point to this blog other than ‘sometimes life sucks’ may I make a suggestion? Or offer a challenge? (My wife did a blog on what I’m about to say so check it out. She’s smarter than me.) If you have been asked to stand for someone in their wedding EVER in your life that means you need to hold the person who asked you accountable to keeping their marriage vows. So how about this? Write down the name or names of those people and either call them today or make a definite plan to call them soon and catch up and specifically ask them how their marriage is doing. They WILL appreciate you asking, even if you are not married. It’s always nice to know that someone is thinking about you and cares for you.

Until next post . . .



Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Movie Review

Well Kat, I’m taking you up on your suggestion so here is a review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you haven’t read the book and/or don’t know the story I am giving away a few things in this review so be warned.

Well I didn’t see the first Charlie so I don’t have that to compare this one too so you should get a completely unbiased report here.

I think it was great that I read the book shortly before watching the movie. Everything was still pretty fresh in my mind from the book so any differences were pretty obvious right away. And there were some differences!

The Bucket family was perfect. The people looked almost exactly as I had pictured them, especially Charlie and his Grandpa Joe. Their house looked great too complete with a door that didn’t quite open right. They had Charlie sleeping upstairs though which was a slight difference than the book. All of the other children were reproduced quite well too. Augustus Gloop was likely my favorite. The very last thing he says in the movie was one of my favorite quotes. “But I taste so good Mama.” Mike Teavee was likely my least favorite. And the fact that he was a violent video game playing gun-slinging kid from Denver didn’t sit well with me. Littleton is practically a suburb of Denver, which I’m sure, is no coincidence for Burton.

The town where the Buckets lived and where the factory was located looked great. This whole movie was obviously Tim Burton, with lots of strange angles on buildings and very saturated color everywhere. It almost had a cartoon quality to it.

I love watching Johnny Depp. He cracks me up and creates really cool characters. His interpretation of Willy Wonka wasn’t quite what I would have suggested and seemed to stray a bit from Dahl’s description. Wonka sort of had a Michael Jackson quality to him in looks. The thin white face and skinny body that is. He also spoke kind of effeminately which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Sure Wonka is eccentric but eccentric doesn’t automatically tie in with effeminate does it? All that said I still enjoyed Depp’s version. After all it was Burton’s version of the story so he’s allowed to do what he wants.

There were also some story changes. Wonka kept having flashbacks to his childhood and the bad experiences he had with his overbearing dentist father who thought candy was evil. This changed the ending slightly too which I won’t give away. None of the changes took away from the story at all. I could totally see why Burton added what he did. The book ends great but doesn’t have the kind of ending a movie made in Hollywood would have which is what Burton gave it.

The Oompa Loompas were interesting. Burton used one guy’s face and made all of the Oompa Loompas look like him. It was kind of amusing but I don’t think it was worth all of the work they would have needed to do to do that. They didn’t really fit into my mental picture of what or who the Oompa Loompas were. Their songs were pretty interesting. Danny Elfman outdid himself. The songs that they sang after each child destroyed themselves were all quite involved. There was singing and dancing and lights. It was all very organized. There was a disco-ish song, a Queen-type song and a couple of other theme based songs. Elfman used Dahl’s lyrics but created new music for everything.

All in all it was an enjoyable movie, very true to the book. My favorite part was when they first walk into the factory. That looked exactly like I pictured it. If you are a big fan of the book go ahead and shell out the big bucks for the theatre otherwise it’ll be a great rental. Maybe even read the book first. Any library should have it and it’s a pretty quick read.



Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chocolate Angel Money

Since I last blogged I’ve finished reading two books.

In preparation for the movie I thought it would be good to revisit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It worked out great. I had a flight delay on my way to Nashville last week and managed to polish it off between my first flight and waiting for my second flight. I’ve mentioned before how much I like Roald Dahl’s writing so I won’t go into that but I can’t wait to see how they have translated Dahl’s words into a script and sets. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Johnny Depp play a character that Roald Dahl created. I’m not sure what it is I like best about his books but I feel like he mixes humour, nastyness and a sense of wonder and justice into almost all of his books. I wish he had written more books for adults.

I also finished Angels and Demons, which is Dan Brown’s precursor to The DaVinci Code. It was another one of those books that you don’t want to put down. I love reading those. The thing I like about Dan Brown’s writing is that he makes you believe everything he writes is truth. That’s quite an ability. This is why the DaVinci Code has stirred up so much trouble. Everyone who reads it starts wondering if what he is saying is true because he writes so convincingly. I enjoy his characters and depth of story too. I’d like to say I had an idea of how it would end but what I thought was going to happen was just what he wanted me to think. I won’t give anything away but check it out. In my buddy Dave’s words it’s also not heretical like the DaVinci Code was.

I’m currently reading a course called “No Money Down” by Carleton Sheets. It teaches you how to become a real estate investor. I’m not interested in becoming a real estate investor at this point but I would like to own my own home one day. It has been an interesting read so far especially coming from the background of Dave Ramsey and Howard Dayton. These guys are anti debt where as the course I’m reading gives about 20 or more different ways of getting a mortgage and not paying any money down. So there is some difference there. It’s always good to get both sides I guess.

Check out my wife’s blog to see what’s been going on with my family lately. We have been ill. My son Jonah looks pretty pathetic in the pictures she has posted. It was a sad time. We’re all better now though!

Anyway, until next time . . .



Tuesday, August 02, 2005

myblogsite personell, help!

I love finding things that are different. I love doing things that are different. I'm very much about being my own person just like everyone else.

This is why I chose "myblogsite" instead of blogger or typepad or something else. The only issue is I will type this and click on post and it won't show up just like the last two posts I did. I find this very disappointing as I have liked this place for blogging otherwise. The ads are a bit annoying sometimes but I can deal with that. I can even deal with the occasional technical difficulty but this has lasted for about a week now.

If you are reading this I'm surprised because that means the site is working now and I've just written this for the benefit of myself and some blogsite employee who maybe just fixed it for us. So I guess I'll be posting again soon seeing as you can actually keep current with me now.



Saturday, July 30, 2005

On God's Love

I have been reading Donald Miller’s latest book Searching For God Knows What. It has really got me thinking which is why I read in the first place. A chapter on the story of Jesus deals with many different aspects of His personality and why His story is about relationship and not some sort of formula that we have turned it into.

This got me thinking about God’s love for us and I wondered why some people seem to have so much trouble accepting it. By accepting it I mean not trying to get love and acceptance from everywhere else but being happy and content with what God gives us. That leads me to ask why do I find it easy to accept? I suppose it has something to do with being raised in a loving home and normally being surrounded by people who sincerely love me. I guess if I didn’t have that I may have trouble too. I also think I find it easy because God’s love for me seems obvious when I read the Bible. When I read about Jesus and his character and the way he loved everybody it makes it easier. I love it but find it challenging that Jesus would always be found with the social outcasts, the “non-religious”, the dishonest tax collectors and prostitutes. He didn’t care about what anybody thought He just loves.

In John 4 you’ll find a story about Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well. This woman had had five husbands and was currently living with another man so her reputation wasn’t very good. And the fact that she was a Samaritan woman and Jesus was a Jewish man also shows the extreme Jesus went to in dealing with people and loving them. In Donald Miller’s book he mentions that Jesus asking this woman for a drink would be the equivalent today of a known evangelical going into a gay bar and asking a man to buy him a beer. That’s my Jesus! That’s the God I serve, the one who loves me unconditionally no matter what, the one who would go into a gay bar and ask a guy to buy him a beer. No matter who I am or what I’ve done I can count on Jesus loving me.

It is stories like these found throughout the Bible that convince me of God’s love. This doesn’t mean that I don’t need love and acceptance from people in my life it just means that I will strive to get my love and acceptance from God rather than people. I wish I could survive on only God’s love. Maybe some would say it’s possible, but I think since the fall of man we are forever destined to look for it elsewhere.

What does striving to get my love and acceptance from God look like? Maybe my wording is wrong because I believe we all have His love and acceptance no matter what. I want to make sure I’m clear about that. No matter what I’ve done or who I am there will never be a time in my life when God doesn’t love me. He is the perfect Father. He’s obviously disappointed when we disobey His commands but like a perfect worldly father He still accepts us and loves us and waits for us to come back to Him in obedience. What I am trying to say is that I try to get my value or identity from God’s love rather than trying to please other people and be accepted by them. This is tough to do and I fail constantly but it is what I have been reminded to strive for!



Friday, July 08, 2005

Terrorist Attacks. Again!!

With the recent bombings in London you can't help but think back to 911. The last I heard about these bombings is that they were terrorist attcks and one German news outlet even reported that Al Queda claimed responsibility for it on a web site somewhere. All this talk of Al Queda and Islam and Jihad got me wanting to learn more about who these people are and what they are about. So over the past year or two I've tried to do a little bit of learning.

Dr. Grant, who is based in Franklin TN has likely contributed the most to my most recent academic development. He's at least got me wanting to learn again. So I'd like to direct you to some of his thoughts. His most recent blog on these attacks is quite interesting. The comment discussion is pretty good too.

Dr. Grant's most recent Blog.

And here's a book he wrote sometime around the Gulf War about this same topic.

Blood of the Moon - A book by Dr. Grant about the age-old conflict between Islam - especially Islamic fundamentalism and the Western World.

He also has a CD series on Islam which is really great and I'd recommend it to anyone. The only problem is that I can't find a link to it anywhere on his site. If anyone is really interested in that let me know and I'll do what I can to find a copy.

And on the same theme as Dr. Grant's most recent blog here's another.



Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Some Suggestions

I added a couple of new photos of my boy over there on the left. He’s already 13 months old!! I can’t believe it. We feel so blessed to have him. I totally understand the bragging parent thing and I have been guilty of trying to show him off quite often. It’s pretty hard not to. I guess this is how every parent feels though.

So for anyone who knows me you would know that I travel a lot. Be it on the road or on planes or even by foot or bike trying to get some exercise. It’s hard for all of us not to be irritated once in a while so at the risk of turning this into a complaining blog I’m going to list some of the areas I think humanity can improve on! I will try to remain positive.

First off, how about driving improvements?
- If you use your turn signal we will all know when you are turning.
- If someone does have their turn signal on how about letting them in?
- The left lane is for passing, please cruise on the right.
- A lower sub woofer volume at lights and in the city will allow all drivers to hear their music.
- If you have a disabled parking pass in your car and you are the one who is disabled please don’t allow friends and family to abuse your privilege.

Onto the airport and various other public places.
- I know the escalator moves but if we all keep moving and actually walk up the stairs we will get there even faster!
- I know the moving sidewalk moves too but if you stand on it you will actually be going slower than a walk, so let’s keep moving here too.
- Bathroom operators, can you make some adjustments to the automatic flushers please. One flush per visit is plenty.

I’ll try to have something a little more . . . deep? . . . next time!!



Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Mind At A Time

I had a nice trip to Nashvegas last week. Recorded a new song, played a few shows, did a few interviews and had a chance to relax and visit friends. All these things are nice but not quite as enjoyable when you are missing your other half. So it was nice to get home to be with Sherri and play with my adorable little son.

While I was staying at my manager’s house I found an excellent book. His house is a great place for finding books, especially if you are a fan of G.K. Chesterton. I think he owns all of his books. I found a book titled A Mind At A Time written by Mel Levine. This book is written for educators and parents and deals with how the mind works and develops in children. Its focus is children but when I read it I can’t help but apply it to my own life. I’m learning a lot about how my brain operates from a scientific point of view.

I really appreciate how the author views people. He doesn’t view one person as slow or challenged and another as smart, he seems to see the whole picture of who that person is and who they could become. For instance, the way our current school system is set up works great for some kids and is disastrous for others. The kids who excel in that system come out with confidence and a great education. The kids who aren’t wired for the standard school system leave often feeling like a failure with little self-esteem and no real career skills. Since each person is so different we need to teach them according to how they learn best and help them improve the areas of their brain/learning they have difficulty with.

Some favorite quotes so far.

“… the very same kids who suffer lack of attention control are often remarkable people in their own right, displaying refreshingly unorthodox pathways of thought. … This is one reason I resist applying the stigmatizing letters ADD or ADHD. There’s more that’s right than wrong with most of these kids.”

“When they[kids] sense that we’re on their side and not accusing them of being bad or lazy, they often rise to the occasion and show steady improvement. Teachers, therefore, need to form strong alliances with these children rather than adversarial relationships. The same can be said for parents.”

Here’s Dr. Levine’s web site.

I’m sure I’ll be back with more on this one seeing as I’m just one quarter through the book.



Monday, June 20, 2005


evangelism |iˈvanjəˌlizəm| |əˌvøndʒəˈlɪzəm| |iˌvøndʒəˈlɪzəm| |ɪˌvan(d)ʒ(ə)lɪz(ə)m|
• the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.
• zealous advocacy of a cause.

Is this really what evangelism is?

I had a great conversation with my wife last night on the phone. She just finished reading Blue Like Jazz so her mind was busy processing that information as she was trying to get to sleep. So of course we ended up talking about some of the topics that were brought up in the book. We also talked about how much we desire that people we love would one day join us in this pursuit of serving Christ. Desire isn't really the right word. It's more of a longing or even an aching. It's something we talk about and pray about a lot.

That got us to talking about evangelism and what the heck it is. Is it something we need to do more of or do a better job of? We obviously didn't come up with a solution, but I'd like to post some of my thoughts resulting from our conversation.

If God is the one who changes a person's heart where does evangelism fit in? Should I be telling a friend all about Christ and what he's done for me and what he can do for them? Maybe I should. Should I be giving them little knick knacks that have Bible verses on them that they can refer to everyday? Maybe, but I don't think that'll work. Should I invite them to church every week? Maybe, but being a Christian isn't about going to church. Should I give them the latest cool Christian book or CD to check out? Maybe, but is that enough? Should I blog about Christianity all the time and hope they read it? Maybe, but I think that may get a little boring for both the writer and the reader. Should I pray for them? Well of course.

If God is leading me to do any one of those things or anything else then I think that's what I need to do. Since people are so different we can't just try to show them Christ in the same way every time, however, I think there is one thing we can do for everyone.

God is love. He IS love. I mean love in its purest form. The kind of love where you forget about yourself. The kind of love a parent has for their child. The kind of love that wakes a mother up after two hours of sleep to feed and/or change her baby again. The kind of love that God has for us. If we can show this love to everyone who comes into our world I think that can be real evangelism. It's not preaching, or witnessing, but it is most certainly sharing the love of God. It is sharing who God is. It is spreading God's love.

The God I believe in created me! This complex living being that us humans can't even come close to duplicating. He is the creator of the stars. The creator of the moon and the sun, the oceans and lakes and water itself. He created all of these things. If I love people in the way he loves us and pray that God will change their heart it is certainly within the power of the creator of the universe to make it happen.

So that's where some of my thoughts ended up. I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts, especially if you think I'm off base here.



Friday, June 17, 2005

Good To Great

After listing the books I was going to read I ended up working on another one first. (It's hard to resist birthday presents!) Good to Great, by Jim Collins is a study about why some companies are able to make the leap to great and others are not. I first had it recommended to me by a businessman I got talking to in the airport sometime last year. Then a friend recommended it to me a couple of weeks ago. If you are into leadership development or want to know how your company or organization could run more effectively I would recommend this book for sure and I haven't even completed it yet.

A couple of things I have enjoyed and/or found interesting thus far:

1. All of the companies that were studied that went from good to great had what they refer to as Level 5 leaders. A Level 5 leader "Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will." When these Level 5 leaders were interviewed they always credited their success to the people around them and their failures to themselves. The companies that didn't achieve "great" had leaders that were larger than life and had come in to save the company. These leaders were sometimes so strong that when they left the company the company fell apart because leadership wasn't cultivated throughout the company. These leaders often took the credit for their success and blamed failures on others.

It was interesting to me that the "great" leaders were the humble ones that didn't want the glory. Part of me was saying of course, that's the way it's supposed to be. That's the way Christ modeled it for us. When I've thought of these Fortune 500 companies in the past I would have envisioned their CEO as a ruthless Trump-like businessman. From what I've read so far maybe my assessment isn't that far off except when looking at the "great" companies.

2. "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be." What a great quote! Especially for an optimist like me. I often forget or just don't confront the most brutal facts of my current reality. Good reminder though.

3. Passion is important. The "great" companies' leadership all shared a passion for the work they did. Am I working for something I am passionate about or could get passionate about? Most certainly! I wouldn't be in my current job if I had no passion for what I do. If I worked for a company that sells car parts could I get passionate about that? I don't know. I'm not sure that I could but I could get passionate about the way the company deals with people. All of the "great" companies had employees/leadership that somehow found a way to be passionate about their work.

Some really great findings in this book! And I'm only halfway through. I'll report back when I finish.



Saturday, June 11, 2005

Almost 30!

Today is my 29th birthday! Which means today I enter my 30th year. So much for the twenties I guess. I'm not freaked out by getting old really. At least not yet. Besides the hairline starting to recide I haven't really noticed too many differences.

Tomorrow I head down to Nashville to get back into working mode. A little recording, a couple of shows, a radio visit and a television appearance. And hopefully I can fix my computer whilst I'm there. (I don't know when to use whilst but it sounds cooler!) I've had the last six weeks off which has been really nice. I've spent nearly all of my time with my wife and son which is why there hasn't been a whole lot of blogging. Like I mentioned before I do most of my blogging whilst travelling and since there hasn't been much travelling there haven't been many blogs.

So . . . here's what I've been reading and what I'm about to read. I'm continuing my Roald Dahl reading (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many other of the greatest children's novels out there). I've also got another book on the middle ages to read and one by Steven Pressfield about Alexander the Great. So, soon I'll have a working computer and some time to read and write. And Arithmetic.



Friday, June 03, 2005

Budgeting is a Good Thing

Over the past year or two I've started to do some reading on finances, and well, all that reading is paying off. My wife is a stay-at-home mother and I'm a musician. We are about one month away from being totally, absolutely debt-free thanks to some careful planning and budgeting and my parents (yes, we live in my parents’ basement). Because of that budget we spent last night out shopping for clothes for Glenn when my birthday is only a week away. That has never happened before!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to hit bottom before we started to figure this budgeting stuff out. Living on so little forced us to take a close look at what was happening to our money. We had to make some decisions and take control of it.

Being a follower of Christ also made me wonder how I should be handling my money. Was I being honest with it? Generous? Wise? Am I making my financial decisions with integrity? How would Jesus suggest I use my money? Tough questions that I’m sure we’ll never know all the answers to but the Bible can give us a great start.

First off check out these links about debt. Look at the different translations too if you have a minute. Romans 13:8. Proverbs 22:7. 1 Corinthians 7:23.

Debt never felt right to me. After reading those verses along with some books, I was convinced I had to be rid of my debt. So now here I am! Some people will say debt is necessary, or is a financial tool, but the feeling of not having any debt, and not being slave to anyone is great! After saying all of that, I do believe there are some times when debt is acceptable. It just doesn’t happen as often as Visa would like you to believe.

So back to budgeting. It definitely takes some work and I’ll admit that my wife, Sherri, does the bulk of it for us. The basic idea is to track EVERY dollar and cent you spend. At the beginning of the month we figure out how much income there will be, then we plan how much money we will spend in that month. We basically try to “spend” all of our money before we have it. Part of that “spending” may be putting $200 into savings that month or setting aside $180 for teeth cleaning. Even small things, like an apple juice from the local coffee shop, need to be accounted for. Throughout the month we update our spreadsheet and are able to see where all of our money is going. Of course we have a clothing allocation in our budget for each of us, which I was just able to empty! It’s great to go to the mall knowing exactly how much you have to spend with no worries at all about how it will affect your non-existent credit bill.

Yes, budgeting is a good thing. If you are not doing it I strongly suggest doing the research and spending the time. There is no way you will regret it.

Here are two of the more influential books for me.

Your Money Counts - Howard Dayton
The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey




June Update

I can't believe June is here already! Tomorrow is my son Jonah's first birthday. Incredible! And Saturday the 11th is my 29th birthday so don't forget it.

How about a short update of today's events?

I spent a nice day down in Niagara Falls today with my family minus the parents. I enjoy spending time with my family and that is such a blessing. My two sisters, my wife, my son, my nephew and my brother-in-law all loaded into my dad's van and drove down to the Falls. My nephew is six months old so it was pretty fun having two babies along with us.

We stood around and looked at the Falls for a while, then checked out the souvenir shop and bought some fudge. Man, is fudge ever good! I always seem to forget that. Then we went for a drive along the escarpment (big cliff that runs through a bunch of Ontario and is the cause for the Falls) and eventually stopped at a park for a picnic lunch near Niagara-On-The-Lake. We ate some food, played some frisbee . . . well, the adult boys played frisbee . . . actually it wasn't even a frisbee, it was an Aerobie! If you've never played with one you have gotta do it. They fly flat and far. Then, after a one and a half hour drive home, it was all over.

Now I'm back home working on Sherri's PC since "I" messed up my Mac. I guess I got a little over confident about my computer skills and ended up messing up the operating system. Whoops! Hopefully I'll be able to take care of that tomorrow.

I just finished typing all of this and realized what I have done. I just wrote a "So here was my day" blog!!! Oops! I am truly sorry. I’ve been trying to avoid writing that kind of a blog but here's my excuse: some friends told me this is how they keep up with what's going on in my life. I promise that if this happens again it won't be for a long time.



Saturday, May 28, 2005

Therapy Blogs

Well I'm back home after a two week vacation -- the first one Sherri and I have taken in a long time. We had a great time at Normal Rockstar's wedding in Nashville. We are so happy and excited for those two. It really was a special wedding. Not too many people commit themselves to their future spouse like those two did. They lived committed to their future spouse from when they were kids! The most touching part of the ceremony for me was when they both removed their own purity necklaces that they had been wearing for so many years and exchanged them. I remember when I first asked Jeremy about his necklace and he explained to me why he wore it. Seeing the day that he was able to give it to his wife with integrity was just the best part of the ceremony for me.

So anyway, we had a great time away and even had a holiday from blogging!! In fact, we didn't read or exercise nearly as much as we had hoped either. No big deal though. We were on holidays! So now we are back home, back to somewhat of a routine and hopefully back to some consistent blogging.

While we were away we got to talking with some friends about blogging and one of them was expressing their concern with blogs that are "therapy blogs". I've read blogs that fit this description and didn't think a whole lot of it except that it seemed a little strange to be sharing so much personal information with absolutely everyone and anyone. The cool thing about blogging and writing in general is that you can take the time to collect your thoughts and write them down exactly as you want. You can . . . and you should. Anything you write down has the potential to last forever though, either in a journal or especially online. Even a blogging friend of mine ended up removing one of his controversial blogs, but I know of at least one person who still has a copy of the original. From there it can be copied and pasted and emailed to millions!!

Writing about very personal things can be very helpful and therapeutic for people and can help them deal with tough life situations like death or addictions or relational difficulties or many other situations that we have to occasionally deal with. Shouldn't that type of information and sharing be reserved for relationships that have reached a level of honesty and intimacy that you can never have in the public forum of a blog? In fact, it not only seems unwise but maybe even dangerous. To me it has potential danger in a few areas. The first obvious one is that writing is permanent and could come back to haunt you later in life when you are in a completely different place. Second, in the heat of the moment you could write something you regret which may only create a more difficult situation. Third, there are some freaks on this thing called the internet who may want to know about your weaknesses so that they can use that against you. I don't know! Weirder things have happened.

For these reasons I will try to stay away from writing anything resembling a therapy blog and if I find myself reading one I will stop and move on.

Am I being too hard-nosed?



Saturday, May 07, 2005

Watching Sports is a Waste of Time

I was out for a run today and got thinking about the NHL strike since I had just read an article on it on As sad as I am that there was no hockey this season I think I may have been better off for it. All of those Saturday nights I would have just spent sitting in front of the TV, not playing with my son, or giving my wife any attention, or really stimulating my brain for that matter. In fact, I bet relationships between husband and wife and boyfriend and girlfriend throughout Canada were a little healthier this year.

There is the camaraderie you get from watching sports that other people are into, but I feel like that’s not an issue after experiencing life in Nashville for three years not being a football fan. (Man is that sport boring!) There was some lost camaraderie that made me think I should watch some football but it really wasn’t a big deal at all. You can be friends with people who are addicted to sports that don’t interest you. You just need to be a patient person.

I guess it’s all in how you want to kill your time. Everybody is allowed to waste some time in their life if they want but I’m trying to lean towards making the most of all my time. That doesn’t mean that I’m this studious guy who is always reading or learning or exercising or practicing or having deep discussions with people, in fact, I feel like I’m the opposite, which is why I probably lean so heavily the other way. As I get older and now have a son, I realize how important time is and how much of it I’ve already wasted.

All that said, if the NHL and NHLPA can get their act together and stop screwing up the sport of hockey, I’m sure I’ll watch my beloved Leafs next season and force my one-year-old son to become a fan of the greatest hockey team in the world!



Wednesday, May 04, 2005

On Blogging . . .

So my buddy Normal Rockstar started a blog and I thought it was a waste of time. I made fun of him and gave him a hard time about it. Then I eventually started my own! He convinced me of the merits of blogging. What can I say, he’s persuasive. OK, not really, he just let me figure it out on my own with a little bit of leading.

Anyway, the purpose of today’s blog is to explain how blogging became a bad thing for me recently. It was one of the things I was afraid of.

I have an 11 month old son who keeps my wife and I pretty busy. We love him very much but do miss the time we used to have together before he was born. So when he goes to bed sometime around 7:00 it’s Sherri and Glenn time. We look forward to spending time together then. Either playing a game, or reading, or if it’s Monday night watching 24, or doing some of the other things you do when you are married and your children are asleep. One night a few weeks ago while Sherri was putting Jonah to sleep I decided I would start working on my blog until Jonah was in bed. I guess Jonah went to sleep and Sherri knew I was working on my blog so she thought while I was working on my blog she’d quickly do hers too. So I finished my blog and saw that Sherri was working on hers so I started working on something else and . . . well eventually it’s like 9:30 and Sherri has to get Jonah’s food ready for the next day and shower and get to bed since we always have an early wake up. I think What Not To Wear must have been on or something because we got distracted by that darn TV and watched it till 10 then Sherri still had all that stuff to do.

Anyway, we got in bed just after 10:30, mad that we had spent the night on our computers and watching TV when we could have been spending it together. I think we both said that would be our last blog. But it wasn’t. Lucky for you, the reader, I travel a ton so I’ve got time to sit and write as does Sherri while I’m gone. However, this does mean that when I’m home, which I will be quite a bit in May, that the blogs may not be quite as regular so please forgive me but my marriage is way more important!



Sunday, May 01, 2005

Dependable Women

I just finished reading Gates Of Fire by Steven Pressfield. (A short description of the book is in my previous blog.) Now that I’m finished it one of the things that really stands out to me is how important the women were to the people of Sparta. They weren’t equals by any means but seem to have more importance than I would have thought for that time in history.

At one point in the book the women are depended on for the future of Greece! Of course it is not the women out on the battlefield fighting but it is their character and support that the King counts on to carry the people of Greece through the aftermath of this battle at Thermopylae.

The King had chosen 300 Spartan men to basically go on a suicide mission to defend the “Hot Gates” at Thermopylae, a narrow point where the Persian enemy had to pass in order to defeat Greece. The men chosen seemed rather random. There were Spartans who would be considered too old, others too inexperienced, and still others that were the cream of the crop. We find out later in the book that these men were chosen because of who their wives and mothers were. They were the strong women of the city. I’m guessing they were leaders among the women too. The King knew that this was basically a suicide mission and that it would be hardest on the women of the men who were going. He believed that if his people saw courage and strength in these women they would not lose hope in their country.

This King, who was part of this suicide mission, and his wife, met with one of the Spartan's wives. This woman in particular was going to be losing her husband and her son. To this woman the Queen explained her role as Queen.

“Women envy my station but few grasp its stern obligations. A Queen may not be a woman as others. She may not posses her husband and children as other wives and mothers, but may hold them only in stewardship to her nation. She serves them, the hearts of her countrymen, not her own or her family’s.”

I found this quote really interesting since I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I think the spirit of what this Queen said can be applied to the Christian life for men as well as women. Since my son was born I’ve been trying not to think of him as someone I posses but more of someone who belongs to God and whom God has placed in my care. I can hold him as my own as long as I am ready at any time to release him into whatever God has planned for him. Whether that be going off to college, getting married, moving to another city, country or even continent. I know that this is easy to write now while he is only 11 months old but hopefully if I get my mind set in this place now it won’t be quite as shocking when it actually happens.

Let me try to rewrite that quote so it fits better for followers of Jesus. (I know I could say Christians here but that term has been ruined for too many people which is a topic for another blog.)

“A person who follows the teachings of Jesus may not be like most people. They may not posses their spouses and children, or homes and belongings like others, but must hold them with an open hand always ready and willing to release them into the service of Jesus. They live a life of service to all, serving Jesus first and themselves last.”

I think that is what I really took away from what the Queen said.

The Greeks held off the Persians long enough and eventually defeated them. The pride this produced in the people of Greece only ignited the spark of democracy that had already been started. Each individual had a new found belief in themselves and their country. This created optimism and enterprise that turned democracy into the blazing fire it is today.

All in all a great battle book that gives us a glimpse into a past that has shaped how we live today.



Thursday, April 28, 2005

Xeo and Thermopylae

Isn't that a great title! Just look at it. Isn't it beautiful. You have no idea what it means. Doesn't it make me look smart? It really makes this look like an intelligent blog. Don't worry though, I'm not that smart and this will be a pretty easy read. Hopefully by the end the title will make sense to you too!

So I'm reading a new book now about Ancient Greece. This book is part of the reading list I'm working on suggested by Hugh Hewitt in his book "In, But Not Of". The purpose of the list is to get a basic understanding of our Western Culture background.

This book is called Gates Of Fire and is by Steven Pressfield. The thing that surprised me is that it's a fictional book. I thought I was reading a through a list of history books but this one is a novel. The author has taken historically accurate details from that time and woven them into a story. This really is a good thing because I think we remember stories much better than text books. So instead of plodding my way through a history lesson (which I was prepared to try and do) I am now flying through this novel just wanting to get to the next page.

To give you an idea of what I'm reading about besides just Ancient Greece here's what I can tell you. This takes place around the battle of Thermopylae in northern Greece. What was the battle of Thermopylae? Well before I try to explain anything let me remind you the reader (I know at least my wife reads this) that this is the first book I’ve read about Greek history so I have no authority to actually sound like I know what I’m talking about. And the reason I write in this blog is to stimulate brain activity and prevent stagnation for myself as well as any readers. So with that in mind . . . Thermopylae!

At this point in history the Persians had launched an effort to take over as many countries as possible whether by force or by diplomatic means. I think it was more often by threat of force. One of their enemies was Greece which is where the Spartans come from. I think we’ve all heard of the Spartans. In fact I was a Spartan in my middle school but only now do I have an idea of what that means. These Spartans were professional warriors. They trained hard, really hard. This was not just a job to them but it was their life. In fact it seems like it was the life for everyone in Sparta. These men were so deep into this and it was so ingrained into the culture in Sparta that it appears like something of what a modern day cult is. Once you are in you can’t get out and it was worth your life.

So the Spartans, the world’s best warriors, were not willing to let the Persians come in and take over their land. Thermopylae is a narrow rocky mountain pass that the Persians would have to come through to get to Sparta. Only 300 Spartans were sent to defend against the what sounds like millions, of the Persian Army. There were others besides the 300 Spartans but they were farmers and laborers turned soldiers. They were not trained for battle like the Spartans were. This was basically a suicide mission for these Spartans in order to buy time for the Greeks to rally their troops.

Each Spartan has a Squire that assists them with just about everything. These Squires are actually quite highly trained too just by being with the Spartans so much. They are in fact used by the Spartans as training partners quite often. This isn’t as good as it sounds. The main Squire in this book Xeo, gets into all out fights with his Spartan-in-training partner quite often and on purpose. This is to help the Spartan-to-be to learn how to fight better!

The Persians eventually somehoe capture Xeo and the Persian King is very interested in hearing his story. The King wants to know names and events and how the Spartan camp operated. He wants to hear the story of the Spartans from someone who was inside. So the book is told from Xeo’s point of view as he is telling the King his story.

I’m not through yet but the battle is starting to heat up quite nicely now. I’ve never read a battle book. Never thought I’d find it interesting. Like I said earlier though once I start it’s hard to put down and I have to at least finish the chapter. So I should have it completed in the next few days and I’ll try to give a summary.

If you are at all interested in Greek history or war or even just the relationship between a bunch of men in an impossible situation I think you would enjoy this book. Until next time . . .



Saturday, April 23, 2005

Tooth Extraction

Today’s blog won’t really fit in with the normal purpose of my blog but hey I’m not really that serious of a guy so I need to let my blog lighten up once in a while too!

So this week I visited the dentist three times. Not very exciting for anyone! The first appointment was just for a couple of cavities. The second for two more cavities and a wisdom tooth extraction. And the third to make sure the empty wisdom hole was healing properly.

Now I’ve known since my last visit to the dentist 13 years ago that something was eventually going to have to go down with my wisdom teeth but I was not at all interested. At the time I was playing the trumpet quite seriously and had heard of other trumpet players who had their wisdom teeth out and had a nerve that runs through the lip cut during the process. Not an enticing story for a guy that’s hoping to study an instrument whose primary sound producer is the lip! I thought this was a great excuse. But probably the real excuse was that I was just scared. When it comes to the dentist, somehow TV or movies or friends stories have managed to scare the crap out of us . . . or me.

During my first visit when my two fillings were being put in the assistant put the mirror down for me to see what was going on. Anyone want to watch their teeth get drilled down and needles go into their mouth???? Well anyway I did. I thought it might help me get over the fear. My Dad has never been good with blood so I’m always trying to make sure that’s a fear I don’t develop. It was actually pretty cool to watch. At this point in my life I’m quite interested in learning stuff and I’ve always wanted to know how things work so watching the filling go in was kinda cool. It was like I was watching it on the operation show or something.

Two days later I returned to get two more fillings and that darn wisdom tooth out. I decided before I went that I would watch it all again if I could. The dentist didn’t seem to mind so I pulled down the mirror and watched and you know it wasn’t that bad. There was some blood, and he had to drill into my bone to get it out but it really wasn’t that bad. In fact I laughed at one point. The dentist had his plier like tool on my tooth trying to pull it out and it wasn’t coming. He kept pulling but nothing. He started to try and loosen the tooth by rotating the tool like a joystick in circles while pulling. Before he started this ‘move’ he said to me, “I’m going to add a little pressure to your face here.” It’s not like I could say, “No, I’d rather you just do it without the extra pressure.” So on and on he went. For some reason this just struck me as funny. I pictured what the view would be like if there was a camera above us. I think it would have looked like some kind of torture scene from the show 24 or something. Except they had me so frozen that instead of it being torture it was just funny.

I left the dentist thinking, “Why was I so afraid of this? Why do people make such a big deal about wisdom teeth? It wasn’t that bad at all. In fact it was even funny at one point.” About three hours later the freezing had worn off and I was lying on the couch in pain in need of the prescribed Tylenol 3’s with Codine! That’s when I realized what all the complaining was about. It was just a constant aching pain that somehow passed through my whole body. I never took the Tylenol 3’s. I’m not interested. I’m not even interested in the extra strength Tylenol’s that I am taking but I need to sleep and not be miserable so I went for it.

So it is two and a half days later as I write this and it still hurts. I can still tell when the Tylenol is wearing off and that makes me mad. I hate that drugs are controlling how I feel. I understand that they are necessary which is why I’m not a Nazi about it but I try to avoid them when possible.

This all made me wonder about how much I could endure pain. I watch and read stories about people who get shot or stabbed or fall off a cliff and break a limb and then they do something else incredible like get away from their captors or walk 20 kilometers before they receive any help. I know these are just stories but this kind of stuff does happen and I can’t help but wonder if I would make it through one of those situations. I can’t even deal with a tooth extraction without two extra strength Tylenol’s every four hours!!



Monday, April 18, 2005

Jewish Gifts

We have much to be thankful for courtesy of the Jews. Even words like new, adventure, surprise, unique, individual, person, vocation, time, history, future, freedom, progress, spirit, faith, hope, and justice wouldn’t be a part of our vocabulary if it wasn’t for the Jews. I just completed reading “The Gifts of the Jews” by Thomas Cahill so I’m going to try to give a very quick wrap up of what I got from this book.

“The Gifts of the Jews” was a great read and helped me gain a better understanding of the Old Testament and many of its major players. Thomas Cahill takes the reader through what the mindset of the culture would have been at different points throughout the Old Testament and how much of a challenge it was for the Israelites to do things that were contrary to that culture. The idea of there only being one god for instance would not even make sense to us today if it wasn’t for the obedience of these ancient Jews in following the one true God.

The greatest thing about these Jews though is not that they gave us all of these gifts but that they were willing to take a chance on God and allow themselves to be used by Him. Not for things that would necessarily make their immediate lives better but for things that would fulfill God’s purposes.
I’m trying to stay away from direct quotes in my blogs but today I will finish with this.

“In a cyclical world, there are neither beginnings nor ends. But for us, (here in western culture) time had a beginning, whether it was the first words of God in the Book of Genesis, when “in the beginning God created heaven and earth,” or the Big Bang of modern science, a concept that would not have been possible without the Jews. Time, which had a beginning, must also have an end. What will it be? In the Torah (Genesis through to Deuteronomy) we learn that God is working his purposes in history and will effect its end, but in the Prophets (Joshua through Judges) we learn that our choices will also affect this end, that our inner disposition toward our fellow human beings will make an enormous difference in the way this end appears to us.
Unbelievers may wish to stop for a moment and consider how completely God – this Jewish God of justice and compassion – undergirds all our values and that it is just possible that human effort without this God is doomed to certain failure.”


Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Power of Words

Since the purpose of my blog is to avoid stagnation and stimulate brain activity or learn, I want to make brief mention of something I have learned many times but was reminded of today. Hopefully by writing it down it will stay with me a little longer.

A close friend of mine gave me a sincere compliment today that was worth way more than I think he realized. It’s amazing how powerful saying just a few words can be. It gave me hope, joy, confidence, and an appreciation for my friend. I’m sure it gave me a few more benefits that I’m not even realizing. When was the last time I gave out a compliment? If I can cause this kind of reaction in someone else I should just be looking for these opportunities constantly. I know this isn’t something I consciously try to do but I think it should be if the outcome is this good.

Today I will be on the lookout to give honest meaningful compliments! (I had to add honest and meaningful because I often hear compliments that are nice but I just don’t believe are sincere.) If you are reading this then why don’t you try to do the same?



Am I A Thief?

Let’s imagine that there are one or two people who are reading this who don’t have a clue who I am. Maybe I’m just stroking my ego a bit to think that but let’s just pretend. For those people here is just enough background to make sense of this post.

I have a great and unusual job. I play in a band full time and travel around North America 10-20 days per month. We recently did a short tour through Ontario where we had the opportunity to tell people about World Vision and what they do. Most people know of World Vision and that you can sponsor kids with them but it’s always difficult to try and give a good enough explanation of what they do and where they are working so that people will really understand. I’m not sure I fully understand what the AIDS pandemic really means but I know enough about it that I’m willing to part with my riches in order for an organization like World Vision to help.

The reason that I bring all of this up is because of something I read in the book I’m still working on “The Gifts Of The Jews” by Thomas Cahill. Here’s what it says,

“if you have more than you need, you are a thief, for what you “own” is stolen from those who do not have enough”

More than I need . . . Hmmmmmm . . . What is it that I need? . . . Do I have more? . . . Am I stealing from those that don’t have enough? . . .

I know this is pretty extreme but if you think about it in the context of our societies or countries maybe we are thieves. It never feels like we can make a difference in these big situations but the only way I believe we can is to do as much as we can with what we are given. Whether through our talents or position or finances or influence we need to become informed and get active.



Saturday, April 09, 2005

God Prefers Unique?

I’m currently reading a book called “The Gifts of the Jews” by Thomas Cahill. This is the beginning of a list of books I’m planning on reading to help give me a better understanding of the history of Western Culture. I’m thinking I already have somewhat of a handle on the Jewish people since I have read and continue to read the Bible but being the methodical kind of guy that I am I decided I would start at the beginning of Hugh Hewitt’s recommended list. So here I am.

I’m currently reading about the call of Abram (aka Avram or eventually Abraham). This book caused me to think about this whole passage from Genesis in a different way. The author explains the mentality of people of that time and shows how unusual it was for a man like Abram to take his family and possessions and leave his homeland.
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’”

The mentality of the people of Avram’s time was to stay where you are and meditate on the past, learning from your ancestors. The fact that he was doing something totally different from his forefathers would have made him a fool to his contemporaries. The fact that he was leaving with no real destination besides, “The land that I will show you” also made him a fool. In fact it is Abrams ‘being different’, his personality and individuality, that allows him to get to the place of encountering God and fostering a relationship with him. If he had heard God’s call but thought “That’s not how things work around here. I need to stay in my homeland and learn from my ancestors how life works.” Abram would not have had a relationship at all.

Man do I love this view! I’ve always been a guy who has done things kinda differently. Some people encouraged this in me and others thought I needed to be more ‘uniform’. Either way, this tells me that God prefers us to be unique. I haven’t found this to be something that is encouraged in the church. I guess when people are ‘unique’ things can change and change is tough for everyone, especially the church! I think this book is finally ‘grabbing’ me!!



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