Third Day LIVE


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I love live music; don’t you?  I mean, I love music in general but there’s just something special about a live show. More on that in a minute, but first I have to say: I’ve been to more concerts in the last 5 years than I had the entire 15 years previously, so you might think then that my love of live music is a recent thing. Actually, though, I went through a phase in life where concerts weren’t something I did and now it’s something I’m doing again.

I think my first concert must’ve been with my parents and sister to see Conway Twitty when I was about 3 years old. I remember bright lights and sleeping through it.

My first real concert though was the Steven Curtis Chapman Great Adventure Tour. I was 13 and have always thought of it as my first double date, although I’m positive that I was the only one thinking that. It was my youth leader and his wife and the boy from the youth group on which I had a crush. That counts, right?

So over the years I’ve seen a few bigger names like the Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow (twice!), Rascal Flatts (also twice), Lady Antebellum, Sugarland … a lot of country music I know … Jewell, Paul Simon at the Grand Ol Opry … and some of my favorite contemporary Christian groups Casting Crowns, Tenth Avenue North, Jars of Clay, and most recently Third Day.

I was thinking while at Third Day at how this looks just like a secular concert but it’s not.  The lights, the screaming fans, the loud instruments, the energy, jumping up and down and dancing (yes, dancing, at a Christian event) is the same. But the difference is the Spirit and the Word (and words). The Third Day concert looked just like anyother concert but these guys weren’t just singing about broken relationships and hurts and love songs for the sake of capturing the human experience. They sang about those things with an element of hope! And they were singing about and to Jesus, and that’s huge! I mean, in addition to enjoying the show and being impressed by amazing musical talents, it was worshipful, like being at church or like what I imagine heaven to be like.

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So, in addition to all that, I knew when I made plans to go that part of going might be painful. John was a bigger Third Day fan than I, and I played a live version of their song Nothing Compares at his funeral. It was a favorite of his for the speech made by lead singer Mac Powell during the middle of the song:

“Those words that were written and spoken by the Apostle Paul apply just as much to our lives today as they did 2,000 years ago when he wrote them. That in our lives, no matter where we could go or who we could meet or what we could see or what we could earn or be given to us or accomplish, there is nothing in our lives that will ever even come close to the greatness of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I was prepared to hear the song and even kind hopeful to hear it, to see if or what Powell might say in the middle.

They didn’t play it.

But, what they did play was Miracle, and that was probably even harder to hear than Nothing Compares would’ve been.

The true story in Miracle is about a guy who drives into the woods to end his life and hears a song (a Third Day song, to be exact) on Christian radio, which was the only station he could pick up, and after hearing the song he decides not to end his life.

Well, as you might imagine, when I first heard this song on the radio many months ago I naturally wanted to know why I didn’t get a miracle, why didn’t John hear a song — his favorite Third Day song, even — and make a different choice. Why don’t I get to go up to Third Day after a concert, like the family that the song is about, and tell my story and have them write a song about it? Why, instead, is my story that a Third Day song didn’t save his life but was played at his funeral?

There’s no answers to those questions, save that God is sovereign and God is good and this is what He allowed to happen instead. So I trust He knows what He’s doing. But, the questions were there and the warm tears on my cheeks were there too when they played this story live. And while there’s a certain sadness to it obviously, there’s a stange peace too in trusting that God knows what He’s doing and our miracle just isn’t the same as others’. There’s miracles all over the place in how God has taken care of me and the boys through all of this and I anticipate more miracles to come.

No matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done
There will come a time when you can’t make it on your own
And in your hour of desperation
Know you’re not the only one, praying
Lord above, I need a miracle

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Banging on a Trash Can for Jesus


“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Eccl. 9:10.

Ali Gilkeson of Rend Collective Experiment // Photo by Robin McCoy

Ali Gilkeson, Rend Collective Experiment Photo by Robin McCoy

I saw the band Rend Collective Experiment in concert a while back. If you’ve never heard of Rend Collective — as I hadn’t before this night — they’re an Irish Christian band that’s heavy on the use of percussion and strings and other unique instruments.

Unique instruments like, oh, I don’t know  … a metal trash can.

I was far enough back that I couldn’t see at first exactly what the girl (Ali Gilkeson) pictured above was doing. I’d see a ribbon go flying up and then hear a “boom.”

I said to the person next to me, “Is she banging on a trash can?”

Yes, yes she was.

It was beautiful in a way I can’t describe, but I’m gonna try.

Banging on the can itself was not the beautiful thing, nor really what it added to the music, although it added something to be sure. What was beautiful to me was this: this girl was using whatsoever her hand was doing — even making music with, of all things, a metal cylinder made to hold garbage — to the glory of God.

Colossians 3: 16 & 17 says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus ….”

Some may be skeptical or critical of using a trash can in praise to God, but I think beautiful also is the word picture this affords us.

If a cold metal cylinder intended to hold the nasty waste of our world can be used to bring glory to God and encouragement to others how much more can He use us? Sometimes we may feel as nasty as a trash can — I have felt that way — but when put to use for Him, even a trash receptacle is beautiful.

It’s the same with us. When put to use for Him, we become more beautiful too because He redeems — gives value — to us and our trash.

I don’t make music with trash cans, although I’d love to. If the music director puts out the call for a trash can player for our church band, I’m on it. The “whatsoever I do” are things like write, volunteer, knit, read …. I try to write as unto the Lord and He gives it value. Knit as unto the Lord, volunteer as unto the Lord … you get the idea.

Say “yes,” do it as unto Him, and He will give it value.

Emma’s Tea Room


In Huntsville we have this adorable little place, Emma’s Tea Room, which I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, partly to showcase some of my photos of their couture decor.

My first time there, I was immediately captivated by the quaint old house, the charming atmosphere and delicious chicken salad!

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It’s a fun place for bridal or baby showers, a mother-daughter tea, or lunch with the girls.I suppose you could go on a lunch date there too, but it might me a little too frou-frou for the menfolk.

They also have a little shop with jewelry and other unique knick-knacky things.

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Call ahead to pick up orders to-go.

The fruit is fresh and the tea is sweet and flavored.

And sometimes, just sometimes, you might run into a doll like this little lady below who was dressed so sweetly while dining one day with her great aunt.

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Owner Rebekah Klein named the restaurant after her daughter, Emma, who is also a budding musician. Emma performs locally at the Flint River Coffee Company — which I love! and — of course — at her namesake restaurant, Emma’s Tea Room and the Huntsville Songwriters Round.

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Jars of Clay, Live From the Front Row


‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.’ — II Corinthians 4:7

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Even if you’ve never heard of any other Jars of Clay song, most know the mid-90s hit Flood.

Well, those guys went on to make more music, it’s just that no other song crossed over into the secular stream as popularly as Flood.

I liked Flood, but I became a  fan after I won I vinyl record of their second album, Much Afraid, from a Christian radio station.

I was in college in Huntsville but listening to the Christian station out of Nashville. This was before Huntsville had it’s own contemporary  Christian station.

I’m sure it was one of those things where I had to be a certain number caller, and I was. Nashville is just a two-hour drive from here; I had a friend going to college up there. So I drove up to get my album and to volunteer for the radio’s fund drive and crashed at my friend’s dorm. Fun times. Only in college do you get to use terms like “crashed” when you’re staying over with a friend.

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So fast forward quite a few years and I’m still a fan.

The band added a show to their tour schedule for Nashville, where the band members now live. It was hailed in the local paper as a hometown show. After we got there we found out it was part of homecoming events for Trevecca University.

It was a very intimate, casual performance. We sat on the front row! The band members talked and jeered between sets and were quite the comedians.

Of course, they played Flood. It made me wonder if they ever get tired of playing it. I mean, they have to play it every show. Can you imagine the fan disappointment if they didn’t? That means they’ve played it thousands and thousands of times. I wonder do they even still enjoy it or at this point would they rather just not. But then, that song is the one that caused their career to take off so maybe they’re just grateful. Wish I coulda asked ’em.

For the encore they played my favorite, Love Song for a Savior. I realized later that they didn’t play my other favorite, Tea and Sympathy, but that’s OK. Maybe next time, if I see them in concert again.

Their band started the ministry Blood Water Mission, which helps with the AIDS and water crisis in Africa. Check that out and help. $1 can give an African clean water for an entire year!

Also, the morning after the concert I tweeted the above photo, of lead singer Dan Haseltine snapping his fingers, with the comment that he was bringing back the finger snap. The photo was retweeted by the band (woo!) and quite  a few of their fans too (double woo!).

God’s Not Dead


“On Dec. 17, 2011, Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ and son of self-proclaimed god Kim Il Sung, passed on to eternity. … For more than half a century, North Koreans have been brainwashed to pour all their faith into the words and actions of the two Kims.

“At the 2011 funeral for Kim Jong Il, mourners could be heard asking, ‘How could you leave us? What are we supposed to do without you?'”

— from the Voice of the Martyrs May 2012 newsletter (article)

Their god died. Can you imagine how discombobulating that would be for the one that you put all your hope and faith in to leave, never to return again?

This reminded me of what the disciples must have felt like — and what Scripture documents they felt like — after Jesus’ death. The difference, though, is the resurrection. Jesus came back three days later and stayed on Earth 40 days after that. Then he ascended to heaven and told his followers exactly what to do while he is gone and that he’d be back again. The Holy Spirit filled them and we have never been without God again after that.

I just can’t imagine how it would feel if the god you worship died. Can you? That’s one of the things that’s so amazing about the One True God is He’s omni-everything; always has been, always is and always will be. What kind of god would God be if he was mortal?

Getting Sirius About Music


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I enjoy local radio stations, but I get tired of hearing the same songs over and over. Some people really like to choose their own music with CDs or iPods, and I like to do that sometimes too. More often than not though I enjoy leaving the music to chance or serendipity or even “divine intervention.”

I’m spoiled at home (and at work) with apps or sites like iHeart radio and Pandora that play a greater variety of songs than my local stations. I can listen to both iHeart and Pandora in my car too via the iPhone apps, but the adapter to play the iPhone through my stereo system irreparably broke last summer. I should just buy another one, but this was the second one to break and they’re not cheap.

So Sirius offered a special. $25 for 6 months. It’s cheaper than a new adapter, and I love the song variety. I primarily listen to contemporary Christian music, which on Sirius means I listen to The Message. Like I said, the variety is refreshing, and I’ve already found some new favorite artists and songs — like Marie Miller’s “The Most of Me” and Christy Nockels “Ever Lifting.” They also play some of the oldies like Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, that I listened to in high school and college.

What about you? Do you listen to local radio or manage your own music with CDs or your iPod? Do you have Sirius or XM, and if so what do you enjoy most about satellite radio?

Workin’ On My Rewrite


I’ve been working on my rewrite, that’s right
I’m gonna change the ending
Gonna throw away my title
And toss it in the trash
Every minute after midnight
All the time I’m spending
It’s just for working on my rewrite
Gonna turn it into cash

I’ve been working at the carwash
I consider it my day job
Cause it’s really not a pay job
But that’s where I am
Everybody says the old guy working at the carwash
Hasn’t got a brain cell left since Vietnam

But I say help me, help me, help me, help me
Thank you!
I’d no idea
That you were there
When I said help me, help me, help me, help me
Thank you, for listening to my prayer

I’m working on my rewrite, that’s right
I’m gonna change the ending
Gonna throw away my title
And toss it in the trash
Every minute after midnight
All the time I’m spending
Is just for working on my rewrite, that’s right
I’m gonna turn it into cash

I’ll eliminate the pages
Where the father has a breakdown
And he has to leave the family
But he really meant no harm
Gonna substitute a car chase
And a race across the rooftops
When the father saves the children
And he holds them in his arms

This is where I am in life. I’m workin’ on my rewrite.

The lyrics are Paul Simon’s from his new song “Rewrite” on his latest album So Beautiful or So What.

I said a few months ago that I felt like the lyrics described exactly how I feel about my life right now. I’m workin’ on my rewrite. Life was written. My story was that of a woman married to an engineer she met in in college and they had two kids. Now my story is a 31-year-old widow and single mom to two boys. That’s quite the rewrite.

Listen and/or read the lyrics closely and maybe you’ll see why I like it.

Also, ironically, we got reviews back on Bold They Rise, and I’ve been literally working on the edits/rewrite of that as well.

Interesting video note: He does some fancy guitar work around the 1:33 mark and then flubs up around 1:40; kinda funny to watch.