Dealing With the Spiritual Blah-dee-dahs

I’m about to be very real with you, so buckle up.

I’ve been experiencing a significant case of the spiritual doldrums lately.  No doubt this kind of thing happens to the
best of us, and in my case, it happens to the rest of us, too.  While this summer I was on fire (and really, for full effect you have to read that as “on fi-yah”) for the Lord, as of late I’m just kind of feeling ho-hum.

Kind of dull.

Kind of blah-dee-dah.

Don’t get me wrong or anything, I’m still all in, Team Jesus all the way.  I’m just lagging in my usual joyful exuberance and inspirational overload that I’m used to; hence, the overabundance of stories lately on my blog about drunk driving pet squirrels, car jacked three-legged turtles named Stumpy, and dog poop.

I admit, a big part of my problem is other people.  If I didn’t have to deal with other people, particularly other people who I find annoying and downright stupid at times, I would be fine.  In fact, my life would probably be so fine I’d waltz around spontaneously singing show tunes and dancing with an umbrella in the middle of Broadway Street in the rain if the opportunity presented itself.

Unfortunately, my life is not a screenplay and I am not able to write out all of the annoying and seemingly stupid people who are keeping me from singing show tunes and dancing in the streets.  I’m kind of stuck with them, and if I’m being honest, a few of them are really bringing me down.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, either.  Two weeks ago, my BFF and I had one of our traditional GNOs (girls night outs) that consists of a trip to Barnes & Noble after our boys are put to bed for a cup of joe and a shared dessert of the decadent variety.  We catch up on all the things we don’t normally have a chance to catch up on during the rest of the week.  Normally, there is a lot of laughter involved.

The entire evening costs way less than a trip to a mental health counselor with far better results.

Our last GNO, however, ended up being more of an all out vent fest.  It seems that my BFF and I have a lot in common, including the same taste in annoying and stupid people.  We ranted, we vented, we griped for two hours about everything that was wrong with these people, everything that wasn’t going the way we wanted it to in our lives, and everything else that we could think of that was remotely negative.

The fine staff of Barnes & Noble had to throw us out of the store because we weren’t done with our tirade yet; so, we left and continued our diatribe from Fort Wayne all the way back to New Haven to my friend’s house, where we sat in the driveway and continued to talk for at least another 45 minutes.

Maybe it was the coffee talking, but I don’t think so.

Here’s the thing.  One would think that after all of this pent-up stuff was let out, we would feel better, right?  The truth of the matter is, I know I didn’t.  I know my friend didn’t, either.  The next day, I felt just as insipid as I did the day before, and perhaps even more so.  I really thought that a GNO with my Bestie would make everything better.  It didn’t.

Where did I go wrong?

As I strolled along my street the next morning, the beautiful fall leaves creating a colorful tapestry beneath my feet, I mulled over the night before in my head.    Seemingly out of nowhere, the following conversation took place in my head: (Side Note:  Mom, if you’re reading this, I apologize.  I know it makes you nervous when I start talking about the voices inside my head.  I promise you, though, they are completely harmless and I have been taking my medication 🙂

Voice:  ‘You know where you went wrong, don’t you?’

Me: ‘Uh, no.’

Voice:  ‘You did a lot of talking.  You did a lot of complaining and griping.  You didn’t do any thanking for what is going right, and you didn’t do any praying for what you want to see changed, or for what you need help with.’

Me: (Silence)

Voice: ‘Oh, and Beth?  Maybe you should consider praying for those people you’ve labeled annoying and stupid.  Maybe they need your prayers more than anyone else.’

Me: (More Silence)

That’s where the conversation ended.  I had nothing more to add, primarily because I knew the voice in my head was 100% right.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about it, though.

After some thought, I realized that perhaps my friend and I needed to revamp our GNO into a GBSNO (girls Bible study night out).  We could still do our traditional Barnes & Noble thing.  We could still have coffee and chocolate or whatever other calorie laden dessert strikes our fancy at the Starbucks counter.  Just from now on instead of babbling on and on for over two hours about all that is wrong in our worlds, we’re going to have a purposeful time of prayer and Bible study.

Yep, we’re going to make positive changes in our world and it feels really, really good!

Tonight is our first GBSNO and we’re cheating a little teeny bit, or rather, we’re celebrating in a big way our new adventure.  We’re taking our GBSNO on the road to the Hundred More Years concert tour featuring Francesca Battistelli, the Sidewalk Prophets, City Harbor and Andy Cherry.  There will be absolutely no ranting allowed in the car on the way to the show,  though.  Praying will be allowed, as will reading the Bible.  (Well, I won’t be reading the Bible since I will be driving.  That would be kind of dangerous I suppose.)  I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

What I want to know is, how do you deal with the spiritual blah-dee-dahs?  E-mail me at beth@bethstauffer.com.  I’d love to hear your story!

Advertisements

Why Alex Won’t Go To Bed; And Once Again, for King & Country is Kind of To Blame

Alex viewing his video from Joel & Luke of for King & Country for the first time

Crave–for King & Country

I have eluded many times in the past that my son may in fact be one of the biggest little for King & Country fans on the planet.

For sure, he is the biggest little for King & Country fan in Indiana and most likely the entire midwestern region.  His fandom was no doubt cemented last week when I received a very special little video mail for Alex from the for King & Country guys, Joel and Luke, that their very kind publicist, Sarah, made for him after reading my blog.  (To view the video that sent Alex into giddy spasms of joy, click here.)

Of course, Joel & Luke’s tidbit of video advice happened to coincide with an epic implosion of my iPhone and dinosaur desktop computer the other day that I store all of my purchased music on.  When I connected my iPhone to my computer, everything, and I mean everything, crashed and burned.  Bye bye, for King & Country and every other CD I’ve imported to my iTunes collection.

At first, I didn’t realize exactly how dire this situation was until Alex’s bedtime rolled around.

Precisely at 8:30 pm, Alex appeared next to my chair in the front room, freshly bathed and in his pajamas with his hand extended. Without thinking, I handed over my iPhone, knowing that was what he wanted…his bedtime music.  He gave me a hug and kiss and I heard his footsteps as they padded down the hallway towards his bedroom and up the ladder into his fire truck bunk bed.

Moments later, I heard what I can only describe as a shriek from Alex’s bedroom. “Mo-om!!!! I can’t find for King & Country on here!”

Uh oh.

I got up from my chair and made my way to Alex’s room.  He was perched on the edge of his bed, his gangly six-year-old boy legs hanging over the edge as he frantically poked and swiped at my iPhone in desperation.

“Sweetheart, remember Mommy’s computer and phone crashed?  I’m going to have to find the for King & Country CD and re-import it on my laptop before I can put it back on my phone.  It’s probably going to take a few days,” I said slowly, calmly, like I was trying to talk down a jumper off of a ledge.

Let me tell you, at the moment Alex looked like a jumper on a ledge.

“WHAT?!?”  Alex retorted with vehemence.  “Tell me, Mom,  how I am supposed to get any sleep around here?  You know I have to listen to for King & Country to help me relax!”

Keep in mind, my son is 6.  Apparently, when you’re 6 years old and your mother still pretty much does everything for you, relaxation is hard to come by.

“Well, you could listen to Owl City.  You like Owl City!”  I suggest.

“Not at bedtime, Mom.  Owls freak me out at night.”

“You do realize that owls aren’t really in Owl City, right?” I ask.

Alex just glares at me.

“Okay, what about Toby Mac?  You love ‘Me Without You’!”  I’m thinking this is a good suggestion.  He really does like Toby Mac.

“Do you want me to go to sleep or do you want me to dance, Mom?  You decide.”

I begin to think Alex may have a career as a lawyer when he grows up.

“Alright, what about the Sidewalk Prophets?  Remember how much you used to love ‘Love Love Love’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’?  I could even go get your autographed t-shirt to wear!”

Alex looked at me like I was some kind of deranged lunatic.  “Mom, that’s so lame.  I was, like, 5 then.  I want for King & Country!”

I sighed and sat down on the little wooden desk chair in Alex’s room.  I felt like I was negotiating with a terrorist, and as such, I felt compelled not to give in to his demands even though in the back of my mind I knew for King & Country’s album “Crave” was just a click away on iTunes for $7.99.

From across the room, my eyes met Alex’s and we were engaged in a fierce stare down to see who would look away first.

I was just about to win when Alex said with his big, baby blue eyes that I adore more than anything in the whole wide world, “Momma, what does it mean to hound someone?”

Puzzled by where this was going to go, I responded “It means to bug someone until you get either the answer you want or you get what you want.  Why do you ask  that?”

“Because Luke and Joel told me in that video they sent me to keep hounding you and to keep listening to my for King & Country CD.  Don’t you remember, Mom?”

To summarize, the final score from last night’s debate:

Alex: 1, Me: 0, iTunes: $7.99

(On a humorous side note, after Alex viewed the video mail from for King & Country for the first time, he asked me, “Mom, what language are they speaking?”  I explained that they speak English, like we do, but they are from Australia, so it sounds a little different to him.  Alex’s new ambition in life is to learn to speak ‘Australian’.  He also made his own didgeridoo, which is an aboriginal Australian instrument that we read about in a book, out of a paper towel tube.  I don’t have the heart to tell him that’s not one of the instruments in for King & Country’s band.  I don’t want to be a dream killer!)

Tuesday’s Tunes Playlist: 10/23/2012 Featuring Hyland!

Finding Our Way–Hyland

This week, I thought I would share a few of my favorite Hyland tunes to go along with the New Music Monday review that I posted yesterday.  My top picks that I found videos for on YouTube are as follows:

  1. Never
  2. This Love is Free
  3. Beauty in The Broken

If “Well Done” was on YouTube, you know I’d be including that one too…sadly, it isn’t so I guess you’ll just have to go and purchase the entire CD, ‘Finding Our Way’, wherever music is sold.  I know for sure iTunes has it, and I saw it at Family Christian today so go get a copy!

To view the links to the videos over on my Pinterest boards, click here.

Enjoy!

New Music Monday: Hyland’s Finding Our Way

 

I’m so excited to share with you my pick for this week’s New Music Monday:  Minnesota based Christian rock/pop group, Hyland, and their sophomore release, ‘Finding Our Way’, which was released on 10/22/2012.  Now, you may not have heard much about the group Hyland…yet.  I think it’s only a matter of time before these guys take off in a big way in the world of music!

This past summer, I happened upon the band Hyland playing at the WFRN Friend Fest.  I never really intended to see them play; come to think of it, I’m not even sure I had heard of Hyland prior to the WFRN Friend Fest.  After seeing them play once, however, I was a fan.  The Hyland guys put on an energetic, rollicking show that, in my opinion, should have put some of the big name acts appearing at the two day festival to shame.  I made a point to see them at Fandana Fest at Huntington University in August, and they were even better than the first time I had seen them; but, I digress.

This post is actually about the follow-up to Hyland’s awesome first full length CD, ‘Weights & Measures’ (which, by the way, if you don’t have, you totally don’t know what you’re missing out on!  Go get it right now!)  If I’m being honest here, I wasn’t really sure how ‘Finding Our Way’ was going to be able to measure up to ‘Weights & Measures’, but I’m here to tell you I was very pleasantly surprised!  Not only did Hyland follow-up ‘Weights & Measures’ in grand style, they showed impressive evolution stylistically in both the progression of their lyrics and music.

One of the things I like the best about Hyland is that they are fantastically talented storytellers.  Every song is like a little vignette set to music, however, only a portion of the song is told thru the words; a significant part of the song is told solely thru the range of emotion in lead singer Jon Lewis’ voice and the varying ways the band chooses to arrange the music.  I think this is especially evident in the songs “Power & Love” and “Work In Progress” on the ‘Finding Our Way’ album.

The other two standout songs on ‘Finding Our Way’, in my opinion, are the current single, “Beauty in the Broken”, and “Well Done”.  “Beauty in the Broken” is just an all around outstanding song.  I absolutely love it!  Easily one of my favorite songs of 2012.  Easily.

As for “Well Done”…I don’t normally tear up over a first listen of a song.  I may cry at the end of movies about dogs, but I don’t generally cry over songs, but “Well Done” had me tearing up big time.  There’s just a very emotionally riveting, vulnerable rawness when you put together these lyrics, Lewis’ voice and  the accompanying music that is just really, really special.  I loved “Well Done”, and thought it was a completely well done song.  (Side note:  I made everyone I know listen to this one today, and quite predictably, they all had the same reaction I did!)

Right now, Hyland is out on the Believer tour with headliners Kutless, Fireflight, and the Rhett Walker Band.  Not too shabby if you ask me!  I’m pretty optimistic since they’re hanging out with the likes of Kutless that they will pick up quite a few new fans out on the road this fall.  That would be a really good thing!  If you’re in my neck of the woods in Northeast Indiana, you can go check out the Believer tour  featuring Kutless, Fireflight, the Rhett Walker Band, and Hyland this coming Friday, October 26th at 7 pm at the Grand Horizon Center in Elkhart.  This is probably going to be the best concert to hit Elkhart all year, so don’t miss it!

Wacky News Wednesday: Stumpy The Turtle Carjacked in Colorado

Missing:  Stumpy The Turtle

A car thief in Englewood, Colorado definitely got more than he bargained for early yesterday when he stole a running Chevy Suburban from a Wal-Mart parking lot.  You see, the reason the car was left running while the owner, Wildman Phil, went inside to grab some supplies is the occupants of the vehicle needed the heater running because they are cold-blooded.

Yes, you read that right.  The vehicle’s occupants included a menagerie of cold-blooded reptiles.  To be specific, we’re talking about a three-legged, 50 pound tortoise named ‘Stumpy’, a 13 foot long Burmese python, a rattlesnake, 5 non-poisonous snakes, three scorpions, five lizards, a gecko, and a tarantula.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say these creatures aren’t going to be very happy when they discover Wildman Phil’s no longer in the picture.

Adding to the fun of this story, at least in my mind, is the fact that Wildman Phil says the animals are kept in solid gray Rubbermaid tubs.  What this means is, the car thief isn’t going to know exactly what he’s gotten himself into until he pops the top off of one of those Rubbermaid tubs.

Am I bad person for laughing hysterically as I imagine the look of horror on the car thief’s face as the rattlesnake lunges out of the tub at him?

Probably; although, I will say if you’re dumb enough to steal a Suburban with logos on it that clearly indicate that it belongs to a man who exhibits exotic animals for a living, karma may end up not being on your side.

As for Wildman Phil, he says he could care less about any of the things in the car, or even the car itself.   He is first and foremost concerned with the well-being of the animals he has grown to know and love.  “They’re not just props, they’re live animals. They know me. I know them,” Wildman Phil said. “It’s pretty tough. I don’t care, keep the Suburban, keep the stuff in it. I just want to get the animals back and have them live through this.”

Englewood Police in Colorado say they are looking for a blue 1999 GMC Suburban with Arizona License Plate “TEDDIJO.” There are several logos on the back of the van indicating that the van belongs to Wildman Phil.  If you happen to see the vehicle, give the Englewood Police a call at 303-761-7410.

The Underwear Files

Since this is a PG rated blog, all you’re getting is a pic of the Lego Star Wars undies, not the red racy/lacy thongs. Sorry!

This week’s edition of Wacky News Wednesday is hereby interrupted for a rant on my part about underwear.

For those of you waiting on the edge of your seat for this week’s installment of Wacky News Wednesday, you’ll have to come back again tomorrow.  This underwear rant just can’t wait.

So, here’s the deal.  I’m getting Alex ready to go out to the farm to visit my parents for a few days beginning tomorrow.  As usual, the laundry is piled up and I don’t have enough clean underwear to pack to send with him to last until I pick him up on Sunday.  Herein lies my problem:  do I stay up all night doing laundry, or do I venture out on this wet and dreary night to burn thru the Kohl’s cash I’ve been stashing in my wallet?  Laundry, or shopping?

Not a difficult decision in the least.

I make my selections for Alex in the Boys Department, grabbing him two new pairs of school uniform pants and a couple of shirts while I’m at it, and head to the cash registers at the front of the store.  Of course, there is only one cashier working and there are at least 7 people in line, including me.

Directly in front of me in line was a small group of four girls from a nearby high school (NOT New Haven).  I could ascertain this because they all had on some form of this school’s clothing—either a letter jacket, sweatpants with the school’s name emblazoned on the leg, or a hoodie.

The girls spoke to each other as if they were the only people in the store and I wasn’t standing right behind them, able to hear every single word they said.  I learned that they are all sophomores.  Two of them play volleyball, and one of them plays basketball.

I also learned that the fall semi-formal is coming up.  This is where things go all wonky.

While discussing the semi-formal, one of the girls, a reasonably pretty brunette, holds up three pairs of very racy, very lacy thong underwear in white, red, and black.  “Which ones do you think Brody will like the best?” she asks her friends as she nervously bites her lip.  “I really want him to like me!”

Her friends discuss the color choices while I simultaneously try to process this new information in my brain while attempting to scrape my jaw off of the floor.

This girl is a sophomore.  That means she is 15, no more than 16 years old.

If I had ever attempted to wear underwear like that at any time while I lived under my parent’s roof, much less when I was a 15-year-old sophomore in high school, I can guarantee you that my mother would have stroked out and died on the spot.  My father, on the other hand, would have locked me in the basement and stood guard outside the door with any one of his assorted deer hunting rifles and I never would have been seen or heard from again.

Come to think of it, I wasn’t even supposed to wear the very in-style 1990s Umbro shorts because, in my mother’s opinion, they were too short since they came to the middle of my thigh; I had to sneak them to school in my backpack to change into them (sorry, Mom, but it’s true).

Back to the issue at hand:  the thong underwear.  This girl said, and I quote, ““Which ones do you think Brody will like the best?  I really want him to like me!”  To me, this statement infers a couple of things.  One, that she doesn’t know this Brody character anywhere remotely near well enough to be showing him her underpants; and two, if Brody is simple-minded enough to like her solely because of her underpants, she’s setting her sights way, way too low.  Someday, he’ll meet someone with either A)., better underpants or B)., no underpants, and it’ll be bye-bye, Brody.  (On a side note, with a name like Brody, what is this?  An episode of ‘The Hills?’)

One of the girls, another pretty brunette, is holding a “Body-Slimming, Back Smoothing Shaper” in her hands, or, as my Grandma would have called it, a girdle.  Soaking wet, this girl maybe weighs 125 pounds.  Maybe.  She needs to buy that girdle about as badly as I need to buy a membership to the Krispy Kreme doughnut of the month club.

“Cass, maybe Brody likes you just because,” she says to her friend as she shifts the girdle from one hand to the other.

The other girls stare at her blankly.

‘Yeah!’ I think to myself.  ‘Maybe Brody likes you just because!’

The line moves up, and ‘Cass’ pays for her $25 purchase of practically non-existent underwear.

Her friend pays $30 for the girdle that she doesn’t really need.

Then, the girls are gone and I’m left to pay for Alex’s Lego Star Wars and Marvel Superheroes underwear.  At buy one get one half off, I paid a grand total of $16 for 12 pairs of full coverage boy’s briefs.

I’m thinking I definitely got the best deal of the night when it came to underwear.

Yet, in spite of my shopping prowess I’m left feeling kind of irritated and angry about the whole Kohl’s thong underwear incident I witnessed tonight.  I probably shouldn’t let it bother me, I know I shouldn’t; but my heart breaks in very different ways for both of these girls.

I wish they could see this entire scenario from my perspective in line behind them.

“You’re so young, and so beautiful, with so much life and opportunity still waiting in front of you,” I want to tell them.  “Don’t worry about whether stupid boys named Brody like you or not.  For heaven’s sake, wear comfortable underwear for as long as you possibly can.  Most importantly, if you think you need a girdle, you probably don’t, and if you don’t think you need one, you probably do.”

I want to tell them other pieces of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, like don’t worry if you’re awkward and not supermodel material as a teenager.  You’re like a fine wine and will only get better with age.  (Trust me, I know girls whose beauty peaked in high school…it’s been a downhill slope ever since.  You really don’t want that to happen!)

I want them to know that they are at minimum fifty times smarter and prettier than they think they are at any given time.  No really, they are.  (Well, except for the whole “Which underwear will make him like me more?” thing.  That’s not very smart, but nobody’s perfect!)

I could go on…but I think you get the picture.

If I’m being completely honest here, the worst moment in all of this happened after I left Kohl’s and went out to my car.  I tried to come up with anything remotely positive that I could think of about this entire situation.

For a brief moment, I smiled and thought to myself, “Yes, I’m glad I have a son and not a daughter!”

Then, I realized in less than 10 short years, my sweet, incredibly handsome and witty little boy will be taking 16-year-old girls to the semi-formal at his school.

They may or may not be wearing lacy thong underwear to impress him.

That pretty much wiped the smile completely off my face.

Mark my words, Alex will not be dating anyone until he’s 40 or I’m dead.

No way.

Tuesday Tunes: New Christmas Music From For King & Country and Sidewalk Prophets!

Here’s a little known fact about me: I love Christmas music.

In fact, I love Christmas music so much that I have been known to listen to it in February, as well as the middle of summer, and sometimes even during post-season baseball games. (Yes, Michael Buble, I’m talking about you.)

I love Christmas music so much that I keep running categories of my favorite songs in my mind.  First, there’s Christmas music that’s actually about the true meaning of Christmas.  These songs can all be found in a church hymnal somewhere.  Then, in a separate category there are songs about Santa Claus and his associates, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.  In yet another category are the romantical Christmas songs by perennial favorites like Karen Carpenter, Mariah Carey, and of course, Barry Manilow. (Is romantical even a word?  If not, I think it should be!) Finally, there’s a category of “Just Because” Christmas songs…”Just Because” I like them, that is.  Think ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ and ‘I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas’.   (Although come to think of it, technically both of those could be considered songs about Santa Claus.  I guess since they aren’t very flattering towards the big man in red, I felt the need to put them in a separate category).

For today’s Tuesday’s Tunes Playlist, I thought I would write about the freshly released Christmas tunes from two of my top three current favorite Christian music groups:  For King & Country and the Sidewalk Prophets. For King & Country’s new song is called ‘Baby Boy’ and the Sidewalk Prophet’s song is called ‘Because It’s Christmas’. Both songs were released today, Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 on iTunes as part of the “Very Special Christmas: Bringing Peace on Earth” project to benefit the Special Olympics.

First up, let’s talk about For King & Country’s ‘Baby Boy’.  There’s not much to say, except that I love it!  It has all of the elements of a classic Christmas song:  lyrics with vivid imagery, sweeping vocals, and of course, sleigh bells.  I never would have guessed a song titled as unassumingly and, quite frankly, kind of as boring as, ‘Baby Boy’ would be so good.  That’s one of the reasons I think For King & Country is so fantastic: you can always expect the unexpectedly good from them!  I’ve added the official lyric video for ‘Baby Boy’ to my official Tuesday Tunes Pinterest Board, and you can view it by clicking here(The video is, as you might expect, pretty awesome!)  You can also listen to ‘Baby Boy’ on Spotify by clicking below:

for King & Country – Baby Boy

Moving on to the Sidewalk Prophets and their song, ‘Because It’s Christmas’.  I think it’s only fair to say I love this song, too!  I really like how this song seems to cut to the heart of what’s really important about Christmas, and it’s not pumpkin pie, standing in long lines at Toys R Us, or any of the other assorted holiday stressors that accompany the end of the year.  ‘Because It’s Christmas’ is positive, it’s encouraging, and it’s consistent in directing all attention heavenwards.  In other words, it’s trademark Sidewalk Prophets, and that’s a very, very good thing.

Sidewalk Prophets Christmas

(Side Note:  I feel compelled to mention for any other Christmas music aficionados out there that may love the song ‘O Holy Night’ as much as I do…if you visit the Sidewalk Prophets iTunes page, for $2.99 you can purchase the ‘Because It’s Christmas’ EP that includes, of course, ‘Because It’s Christmas’, the previously released and totally awesome ‘Hope Was Born This Night’, and ‘O Holy Night’.   ‘O Holy Night’ has been one of my favorite Christmas songs since I first heard it during the movie Home Alone in 1990. As such, you can only imagine my giddiness when I saw it listed as a track on the ‘Because It’s Christmas’ EP.  I wasn’t disappointed, either; quite frankly, it may have been the best use of $2.99 EVER!)

So, there you have it!  Tuesday’s Tunes for the Week of 10/16/2012.  I’m sure I will get several e-mails from those of you who are not happy that I’ve chosen to write about Christmas music prior to Halloween, but in my defense, Kohl’s department stores have had Christmas decorations up for 2 weeks now so I feel justified in writing one little blog post about Christmas music.  I promise to hold off writing about Mandisa’s new Christmas album, and Josh Wilson’s new Christmas album, and….well, I’ll try to wait at least until after Halloween, but no promises!

New Music Monday: Matthew West’s Into The Light

Into The Light–Matthew West

It’s time for another edition of New Music Monday here on Spin: The Blog!  Technically, this week’s musical selection has been out for a few weeks but it is sooo good I’m going to have to go ahead and write a little about it today anyway.  (In my defense, there has been so much good new music released lately that I’m almost to the point that I need to win the lottery to be able to afford my iTunes habit; so, please bear with me if I run a few weeks behind on my New Music Monday entries!)

This week, my selection is the latest project from Matthew West entitled ‘Into The Light’.  As you might expect from any Matthew West project, ‘Into The Light’ is exceptional.  Exceptionally good.  Matthew West is nothing if not consistently one of the best singer/songwriters around, and I’d venture to say that’s true of any genre of music, not just Christian music.

Jason Mraz who?

My top four favorite songs on ‘Into The Light’ are, in no particular order, Do Something, Hello My Name Is, Forgiveness, and Unchangeable.  With that being said, I honestly think anyone would be hard pressed to find a bad song on this album.  Yep, it’s that good.

I want to share one of my favorite moments that happened while I was listening to Do Something.  The opening lyrics to Do Something sound remarkably similar to a conversation I routinely have in my head with God and are as follows:

“I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna to turn around?

 

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t you do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

 

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So I shook my fist at Heaven

Said “God, why don’t you do something?”

 

This next part of the song, a lyric I never saw coming, really got me:

He said, “I did, I created you.”

Somewhere far, far away, Matthew West smiles and says “Gotcha!” every time someone listens Do Something for the first time and has the same reaction I did.

Now, it’s my turn to encourage you to do something.  Obviously, I think you should go buy a copy of ‘Into The Light’, but if you are in or around my locale of Fort Wayne, Indiana, you have an opportunity to do something a little bit more.

For $15, you can pick up tickets here to Operation: Rock the Boxes on November 9th at IPFW’s Auer Hall and help spread the love of Jesus Christ this Christmas by supporting Operation Christmas Child.  Can you guess who will be appearing at the Operation: Rock the Boxes kick-off concert?  Well, if you guessed Matthew West, Mike’s Chair, Lindsay McCaul, and Everfound, you’re right!  For $15, I’m thinking that this concert is a steal!

I hope to see you there!  In the meantime, here are some other links you might find interesting:

Matthew West’s Website

Operation Christmas Child Info

Operation: Rock The Boxes Kick-Off Concert Information

Bad Attitudes and Stress Baking

If any of my friends that know me well came over right now, they would realize almost immediately that something is amiss.

You see, when something’s bothering me, there is nothing that soothes me more than to go into my kitchen and cook.  There’s something about chopping, stirring, mixing, and whipping to take my mind of whatever is bothering me.

Sometimes this means I bake.  Sometimes this means I cook.  Sometimes, when things seem especially dire, I do both.

Right now, I’ve got 12 dozen monster cookies cooling on my table, an entire chicken simmering in my crockpot, a huge batch of puppy chow filling a paper sack next to the stove, a pound of northern beans soaking on the counter, and an assortment of chopped carrots, onions, and celery in containers in the fridge.  I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with 12 dozen monster cookies, a sack full of puppy chow, a chicken, beans, and root vegetables at 11:30 pm on a Sunday night, but I guess I’ll come up with something.

My main problem tonight, however, is not how to use the assortment of delicacies I’ve whisked up in the kitchen tonight; it’s how to get rid of this bad attitude I have that’s been plaguing me this past week.

It all started with one person who has a knack for getting under my skin.

One person!

That one person ended up coloring my entire attitude like a drop of food coloring in pitcher of water.  Before I knew it, everything in my life was permeated by that one single drop.  All the good things that happened this week were totally negated.  All the not so good things that happened were amplified.

All because of one person.

I prayed about it, but somehow I think my wires got crossed with God.  I asked God to help me be slow to anger and quick to forgive, but instead I found that I’m even quicker to anger and slower to forgive than usual.  Not exactly the solution I was looking for.

The thing is, I hate feeling this way.  I don’t want to walk around seething inside.  I don’t want to live with anger brewing inside my heart.  I don’t want to allow someone else’s actions to be the deciding factor in whether or not I have joy in my life.

It occurs to me that maybe I’m wrong about this being one person’s fault; or rather, maybe I’m wrong about which one person is to blame.

Perhaps I’m the one who needs to take responsibility for my own bad attitude here.

This caused me to think about something I once read that was written by Charles R. Swindoll about attitudes: “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

I can’t change any of what happened last week, up to an including the actions of that one person who totally drove me nuts.  I have absolutely no control over any of that stuff.  As Mr. Swindoll so eloquently points out, I do have control over something far more important and that is my attitude.   What this means for me is, no more allowing other people to color my world with their bad attitudes.

It seems to me that there are very few things in life that I can exert some control over, and my attitude is one of them.  You’d better believe I’m going to be relishing in this thought all week long!

(Side note:  So, if you’re in the mood to spend time with someone with an extremely positive attitude feel free to stop on by!  I’ll have plenty of cookies…and chicken…and who knows what else, all week long.)

The Trouble With Tweeting

The other night, I found myself unable to sleep at 3 am.

You might be wondering why.  I know I was wondering why the other night as I stared defiantly at the alarm clock, watching the minutes press on towards the inevitable 6:30 am summons to get up and get Alex ready for school.

The reason why, and I admit it’s a stupid one, is that I was upset about Twitter.

Specifically, I was upset because last week I was picked by the News Sentinel (one of Fort Wayne’s biggest newspapers) as one of the top High School Football tweeters. While this sounds like an honor, and believe me I am honored to be chosen, in my twisted mind I had worked this entire tweet-capade into something entirely other than what it was ever intended to be.  (By the way, do you like my new word I just made up—tweet-capade?  It’s kind of a mash-up of ‘tweeting’ and ‘escapade’.  I really think it’s going to catch on!)

If you have read my blog for any length of time greater than three minutes, it may surprise you to learn that I actually write about football in addition to music, wacky news, and other stuff.  I report on the New Haven High School Bulldog’s football games every week, writing feature stories about the team, their families, and other stories related to the Bulldogs for www.newhavenbulletin.com.  I also tweet updates live from the games under my Twitter handle, @SpinTheBlog.  My tweets are always re-tweeted by Indiana’s News Center, @INCNOW (Fort Wayne’s premier sports television show), the Journal Gazette’s Prep Sports (the News Sentinel’s sister newspaper), and of course, the News Sentinel.

I’m no Erin Andrews, but not too shabby nonetheless for me being ‘just a girl’ (at least, that’s what I’ve been told.)

Yet In my mind, my 3 am negative self-talk began to erode the good feelings I should have about my fledgling success as a sportswriter. I started to pick apart my tweets to try and figure out why I might have been picked as a top tweeter last week.

After all, I’ve been doing this for 8 weeks.

Why last week?

Maybe it was because the weather was so bad no one was even at many of the games?  I mean, I wasn’t even at the New Haven/East Noble game.  I watched it live online via the www.newhavenbulletin.com stream and tweeted from the dry warmth and comfort of my Laura Ashley recliner.  (In my defense, I’m nursing a broken foot so my doctor said I was absolutely not allowed to be traipsing up and down the bleachers and all over the field.  That excuse only worked for one week, however; tonight I’ll be back at it at Homestead!)

Maybe it was because they needed to pick a girl as some sort of equal rights thing.

Then again, maybe the editors just drew names out of a hat to determine the winner, and since I never win anything ever, the probability theory finally materialized.

I began to wind myself up tighter and tighter into an emotional frenzy over tweeting.

Looking up at the ceiling, I told myself to just let it go and give it to God.

This was not an important issue.

As I started to relax, and only as I started to relax, did it occur to me that probably the reason why my tweets were picked last week was because it was the first week I had used the #nsfootball hashtag required to be considered for the contest.

Mentally, I slapped myself on the forehead and said “Duh!” to myself.

This whole thing made me think…how many times in our everyday lives do we live out this kind of scenario?  Of course, it’s not usually going to be about tweeting high school football, but the premise remains the same; we are constantly tweeting self-messages to ourselves all day, every day, and sometimes, even all night.

I’m willing to bet that for many of us, these self-tweets aren’t what you would consider positive and uplifting.

Perhaps instead of focusing on our own negative self-tweets, we should instead focus on some God-inspired messages to us taken directly from His word in 140 characters or less:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Now that’s what I call perspective.

Even though I’m frequently a sinful mess, wreaking havoc on my own self-esteem and sleep pattern, God loves me in spite of me.  In fact, He loves me so much that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to cover my deep inadequacies and inherent flaws.

The ‘I’ in the middle of sin—well, I think that is definitely referring to me.

The knowledge that I’m a top high school football tweeter doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.  Who knows why I was picked, and honestly, who really cares why?  In my opinion, it’s a much bigger deal that I’m a child of God.  One of the most awesome things about being a child of God is the fact that I won’t be staying up all night trying to figure out why He picked me.  Instead, when I focus on the truth that He has chosen me and He does love me, the only thing I will be doing at night is resting well in the tender peace only He provides.

If you’re tweeting negative self- messages to yourself, I want to encourage you to give it up to God just like I did in this instance.  Whatever your situation is, no matter how unworthy or unlovable you may feel at times, I promise you that you are far more precious to Him than you can imagine in even your wildest dreams.

Let Him come into your heart and heal your hurts.

Let Him tweet you messages from His word about what you are really worth in His eyes.

Let Him bring you the peace and grace and mercy you have been looking for all your life but never been able to find.

Let Him love you.

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is” (Ephesians 3:17, 18).

Wacky News Wednesday: PooPrints Doggie DNA Edition

On a quiet cul de sac in Austin, Texas sits a small condominium complex known as “The Pointe.”  In this place, you will find beautiful homes with well-manicured lawns owned primarily by retired individuals;  yet behind this peaceful façade, something sinister and, well, stinky, is going on.

Someone hasn’t been picking up their pooch’s poopies in The Pointe’s common areas.

Granted, with all the problems in the world today from feeding the hungry and helping the homeless to ending war and finding peace, the issue of finding an unattended pile of doggie doodie seems, at least to me, kind of minor.

To the members of The Pointe’s Homeowners Association, however, this is not a matter to be taken lying down.

Enter the doggie doodie DNA company, PooPrints.  (Who even knew such a company existed?!)

For $30.00, PooPrints will take a painless DNA sample of each dog that lives at The Pointe (think a cheek swab with a Q-tip), provide the dog with a registration tag, and enter the dog’s DNA profile and registration tag information into a database.  Then, when piles of poo are found at The Pointe it can be analyzed to determine with 99.999% accuracy just exactly who has been a bad, bad dog.

Of course, the pet parents at The Pointe are not happy about this undignified intrusion into their dog’s dirty business.  Steve Round, who has lived at The Pointe for over seven years, had this to say about the Homeowners Association’s plans to create DNA poop profiles of The Pointe’s pooches:  “”It just seems everything is getting more and more micromanaged.  When you start regulating people’s dog poop, well, I think that is as far down the line as you can get. I don’t know, maybe they’ll start regulating our poop next.”

I know I speak on behalf of us all when I say that I truly hope that day never comes.

(Side Note:  Am I the only one who thinks this story would make a brilliant Maury Povich episode?  Way better than ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’  Can you even imagine some of the titles for a show matching up dogs with their poop via DNA results?  I can, and I’m not definitely not going there…)

Get Your Tiara On!

At approximately 4 am this morning, I realized that I am a princess.

I reacted as you might expect, similar to that of Amy Farrah Fowler on the Big Bang Theory when Sheldon gave her a tiara (if you don’t know what that means, you can watch it here. )

Or, to put it in other words, I was pretty darn excited.

Growing up, I was never much of a pretend to be a princess kind of girl; I was definitely more Wonder Woman than Snow White.  It wasn’t until I was much older and a red-headed mermaid/princess by the name of Ariel came on the scene that I began to think that I might be missing out on the whole princess thing.

Perhaps it is because of this that as an aunt to my own little princess, over the years I’ve purchased an enviable wardrobe for her royal highness, Alyssa—several pairs of princess high heels (one for each Disney princess), a collection of tiaras, an assortment of voluminous tulle frocks, and enough jewelry to make the Queen of England jealous of Alyssa’s stash.

It honestly never occurred to me that Alyssa and I are both already princesses.

You see, as daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we’re already princesses.

No tiaras necessary.

We’re already beautiful, perfect, redeemed.

In the eyes of our Heavenly Father, our sins have already been washed away by the holy and blameless blood of the one true prince, Jesus Christ.

Alyssa and I don’t need fancy high heels, boatloads of tulle, or a stash of fancy jewelry to enhance who we inherently are:  daughters of the King, heirs to the Kingdom, princesses bought with a love that has no end.

I’m here to tell you today that you are royalty, too.  Just like me and Alyssa, you are loved and you belong as a child of the King.

When you start thinking about yourself in terms like this, it changes your outlook on everything.

So, like Amy Farrah Fowler, get excited and put on your tiara for Christ today.  Be the princess (or prince) you were meant to be.  Live like the heir to the kingdom that you are, being kind and generous in all that you do.  You’re the daughter (or son) of the King!

 

“You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God” Isaiah 62:3