Phil Joel Launches deliberateKids Kickstarter Campaign

These days, you just can’t escape the constant barrage of worldly messages that come at us from all sides during most of our waking hours.  From the TV to the internet to the newspaper, billions of dollars are spent every year crafting eye popping, shock and awe advertisements meant to draw our attention and pique our interest in buying some product we probably don’t even need anyway.  Even grocery carts and the sides of city buses compete for our attention, projecting provocative images and offensive content.

As a parent, how do you prepare your child to filter out the junk of this world that seems to be almost everywhere?  What can be done to guard the young hearts and protect the minds that have been entrusted to us from all the ugliness in the world?

Phil Joel, a former 14 year member of the Christian rock group the Newsboys and the founder of the deliberatePeople movement, has a simple but innovative idea to combat these very things.

DeliberateKids is a children’s music project that Joel, together with his wife Heather, originally created after becoming parents to their two children.  “There’s a lot of kids music out there,” said Joel with his trademark New Zealand accent, “but much of it is very, very old.  I wanted to create something rockin’, catchy, and super fun that would pour God’s truth into the hearts of kids everywhere.”

The original deliberateKids 1 & 2 were recorded and distributed thru a deal with a record label, and that deal officially came to end recently, said Joel in an interview at the WFRN Friend Fest on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013.  Now that the rights have been returned to the Joel family from the label, they are anxious to relaunch deliberateKids and “get this music back into the minivans and living rooms all over the country,” Joel said with a smile.

While Joel is passionate about getting the music back out to families, obtaining the financial backing for a grassroots project such as this one has proved rather challenging.  “A lot of people don’t realize that to do things the right way, it can get rather expensive to license your songs, pay out royalties, manufacture the CDs and so on,” said Joel,  “but it is important to us that we do this the right way.”

This is why the Joels have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $15,000 needed to manufacture the project.  Currently, the campaign is a little over 50% funded with 3 weeks remaining in the campaign.  Project backers can donate as little as $1 or more than $3,500 with incentives ranging from a 5 song digital download sampler of the CD to a visit from Phil Joel to your church on Sunday morning.

“Every day, we receive calls or e-mails from people who want to know where to buy deliberateKids,” said Joel.  “It’s rather frustrating to tell them they can’t buy it because it’s nowhere to be found at the moment.  This Kickstarter campaign can change that.”

Notable fans (and parents)  of deliberateKids include tobyMac, Jeremy and Adie Camp, Matthew and Emily West, Peter Furler, Jon and Sherry Rivers, Patsy Clairmont, and comedian Bob Smiley.  Of the deliberateKids CDs, Matthew West has said “Our children love the deliberateKids music! God has uniquely gifted Phil and Heather with the ability to write songs that are fun, entertaining, and filled with the hope and the joy that we find in God’s promises. We tell all of our friends about dKids because we know parents need to be armed with tools like this as a way of filling our children’s hearts with the positive message of the hope we have in Christ!”

Ultimately, Joel hopes to expand the deliberateKids family to include daily devotionals for middle schoolers, family tool books, VBS materials, Sunday School curriculum, music videos, and perhaps even a deliberateKids 3.

For more information about this project, visit or click here to visit the deliberateKids Kickstarter page.




In addition to his work with deliberateKids and deliberatePeople, Phil Joel is also a solo artist and his projects are available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. 

Great New Band Alert! Carrollton

What you are about to read is a true story.

Earlier this week, I was zipping along US Highway 930 East in scenic New Haven, Indiana on my way to interview a VIP for a local news story.

The weekend had been chaotic, Monday had not been much better, and I felt my IQ rapidly diminishing by the minute.  To de-stress, I decided to turn up the radio and relax to some music on one of my favorite local Christian radio stations.

About ten seconds into turning up the sound on my radio, I came to two realizations:

#1—I didn’t recognize the song playing but I liked it a lot and

#2—The vocalist sounded a lot like Darius Rucker circa his Hootie and the Blowfish days.

This was rather perplexing, because the last I knew, Darius Rucker was a country music singer and I didn’t recall getting any press releases or anything about him switching up genres lately.


The more I listened to the song playing, the more I became convinced that Christian music was Darius Rucker’s forte.  He sounded better than ever.  I was seriously going to have to go and find out the details ASAP on this new single because it was awesome.

Then, my phone rang and I was temporarily distracted for a few moments.  When my attention returned the music at hand, I realized that another new song I didn’t recognize was playing on the radio.

In the history of music and radio stations, this has never, ever happened before.  Not ever.

This song, instead of sounding like Darius Rucker, sounded more like a vintage Jason Wade from Lifehouse with a folksy undertone.  I liked it a lot, but was deeply disturbed by the fact that there were two new songs in a row played on the radio that I didn’t know.

It’s kind of my job to know this stuff.

Then, in a vague recollection from the night before, I remembered popping a new CD in the player on my way home from the pool with my son Alex.  Sure enough, I wasn’t listening to the radio at all—I was listening to the album ‘This is Life’ by Carrollton (formerly known as Mosteller).

From that moment on, I’ve been hooked on ‘This is Life’.

The more I listened to ‘This is Life’, the more I heard undertones of other bands I love, like NeedtoBreathe and Snow Patrol, but presented in a way that is uniquely and unequivocally Carrollton.

If ‘This is Life’ according to Carrollton, sign me up for another CD ASAP because, as my favorite t-shirt says, Life is Good.


Last Friday, June 21st, 2013 at the WFRN Friend Fest in Nappanee, Indiana, I had an opportunity to meet the guys of Carrollton to find out a little bit more about the band, which consists of lead vocalist Justin Mosteller, Jeremy Menard on lead guitar and background vocals, Jordan Bailey on bass and background vocals, and Michael Loy on drums and background vocals.  The band hails from the Cincinnatti, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky area and derives its name from the halfway point between the two cities in Carrollton, Kentucky.  Carrollton previously performed under the name Mosteller, but recently decided to officially change the name to better reflect who they are as a band; according to the band’s official website, “Carrollton represents the road we have travelled and the restful feeling of being halfway home.  It signifies where we come from and how God has brought us to the place we are today.”

In April, Carrollton signed a record deal with Centricity Music, home of such acclaimed artists as Aaron Shust, Jason Gray, Remedy Drive, and Unspoken, and a management deal with Eaglemont Entertainment.  For Carrollton to be in the company of such high caliber talent as Shust, Gray, Remedy Drive, and Unspoken testifies to the talent the group is brimming with (just in case my word alone isn’t good enough 🙂 )

According to Justin Mosteller, the band is overjoyed to partner with Centricity in this new adventure for Carrollton.  “It’s really crazy.  A lot of pinch me moments,” said Mosteller on Friday.  “We aren’t in this for the fame and fortune, but we are in this to minister to people on a personal level.  We believe that Centricity can help us do just that.”

Drummer Michael Loy agrees.  “For us, it’s so much more than just being a band playing music.  We just hope that we are playing to people for a reason, even if it’s just ten people,” said Loy.  “We want to be able to minister, and we hope our music does that.”

This summer, Carrollton will be spending a lot of time on the road leading worship, and early in the fall they will open a hometown area show for the Sidewalk Prophets on September 8th, 2013 in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  Undoubtedly, they will also spend some time pouring over the more than 40 songs they have co-written for their upcoming debut EP with Centricity.

“There’s a lot of songs we’re digging right now,” said Loy with a laugh.  “We aren’t sure what direction we’re going to go with the EP yet.”

Personally, I’m digging the songs on the original debut, ‘This is Life’ so much I’m toying with the idea of starting a petition to lobby Centricity to forego the Carrollton EP and move directly to a full length album.  Maybe even toss in a couple of bonus tracks, why not?  Whatever direction you’d call it, that is the direction I’d go!


You can check out what I’m talking about below on Spotify–


for King & Country Perform for Sold Out Crowd

Okay, so this is newsworthy to me for one reason—I got to see for King & Country first on Friday night at the WFRN Friend Fest!

Free parking.

Free bouncy houses.

$1.00 bottles of water.

Backstage passes for me and Alex because I’m a card carrying member of the media.

Yeah, from a fan perspective who really needs all the hoopla of a giant NASCAR Stadium anyway?  (If you couldn’t tell, I’m not a fan of racing.  In my opinion, NASCAR is not a real sport.  Basketball, baseball, and football are sports.  Sitting in a car driving around really fast in a big circle, not a sport.  Don’t even try to convince me, it has been done before and it has not worked nor will it ever.  Just sayin’.)

Just the same, how awesome that for King & Country was able to perform in front of 16,000 fans?!  (I’m sure it wasn’t quite the same as Friday since Alex wasn’t there, but you know, can’t win ’em all.  This is still quite an accomplishment!)


From Press Release:




fkc charlotte motor speedway

Nashville, TN – (June 25, 2013) – On Saturday night, for KING & COUNTRY took the stage at New Life 91.9 FM WRCM’s “Faith, Family and Freedom Celebration” at Charlotte Motor Speedway in front of an audience of over 16,000 fans. The celebration also featured performances by Building 429, Mandisa, Sanctus Real and Plumb. In addition, this weekend the band’s critically-acclaimed debut album, Crave, launched back into the Top 10 on the iTunes’ Christian Albums chart over 70 weeks after its initial release.

“We were thrilled to have for KING & COUNTRY as a key part of our Faith, Family & Freedom Celebration Saturday,” said Joe Paulo, Director of Broadcasting for New Life 91.9 WRCM. “Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious to the crowd and their music was incredible.  They were a perfect fit for this event!  Our social media outlets absolutely lit up with passionate comments about the band’s performance that night and for days afterward.  Most importantly, however, they effectively communicated the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ with the talents that He has given to them.”

Joel of for KING & COUNTRY added, “To stand alongside 15,000 fans shouting songs of hope on zMAX Dragway Saturday felt like a piece of heaven coming to earth.”

“Middle of Your Heart” is for KING & COUNTRY’s third single from their debut album, Crave, which was named iTunes “Breakthrough Christian & Gospel Album of 2012.” On June 1, the duo was named “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” at the first-ever K-LOVE Fan Awards. In addition, this past January, for KING & COUNTRY made their late night debut performing “The Proof of Your Love,”’s “Christian Music’s Song of the Year,” on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” In 2012, for KING & COUNTRY were named as one of Billboard’s 17 acts to watch and were CCM’s best-selling new artist. New Release Tuesday noted that Crave was “One of the Best Debut Projects in Years!” ET’s “The Insider” said the duo, “make music that speaks directly to your heart” and have been “gaining popularity in the alt-rock genre.” American Songwriter commented that “for KING & COUNTRY may just be Australia’s answer to Coldplay.”

About Word Entertainment

A leader in the music industry for over 60 years, Word Entertainment, a Warner/Curb company, is a unique, comprehensive entertainment company comprised of multi-faceted artist service departments including publishing, merchandising, booking, and online initiatives. Word Entertainment represents some of the top names and brands in music, including Meredith Andrews, Chris August, BarlowGirl, Francesca Battistelli, Big Daddy Weave, Jason Castro, Patrick Ryan Clark, Everfound, for KING & COUNTRY, Group 1 Crew, Love & The Outcome, Dara Maclean, Point Of Grace and Sidewalk Prophets and is home to 25 Entertainment, Word Distribution (representing Curb Records and Big Idea/VeggieTales among others), Word Print, Word Films, Word Music Publishing and Word Label Group’s Word Records, Word Worship and Fervent Records.


For more information please visit, / / Follow:@ 4kingandcountry

Dara Maclean Debuts New Music Video for ‘Wanted’ on Myspace

Yes indeed, boys and girls, you read that correctly–Dara Maclean debuted her new music video for ‘Wanted’ on Myspace this week.

Did anyone else know that people still use Myspace?  Seriously, I pictured Myspace as a vacant wasteland with nothing let but a few ugly trolls roaming around.  (I will say, it was kind of scary over there…if you go, be sure to use the link provided.  I went on my own and attempted to search for the video, and it was a bad idea, unless you like lewd pictures of Rihanna and Justin Timberlake, which I don’t.)

So, be careful out there on the world wide web; and by all means, go check out the video, it is nice!  Very pretty, and a great message.  (Again, just to reiterate, please use the provided link to the video.  Don’t try to find the video on Myspace by yourself!)


From Press Release:

Nashville, TN – (June 24, 2013) – Fervent Records’ soulful recording artist Dara Maclean debuts the music video for her new single, “Wanted,” today on Myspace (Link here). Directed by Heidi Groff and shot over two days on the small Mexican island of Isla Mujeres, the video showcases Maclean touring the streets of the city and spending time with the local children. “Wanted” is produced by Paul Mabury (All Sons & Daughters, Meredith Andrews, Hillsong) and written by Justin Ebach, Mabury and Maclean.

“‘Wanted’ is about a universal need, speaking to the child in all of us that is desperately longing just to hear somebody tell us we’re wanted. Somebody to tell us that we’re cherished and that we belong,” explained Maclean. “To not be wanted based on your performance — We all have those relationships in life where we are loved based on how good of a friend we are or how good of a daughter or son, sister or brother we are. It’s conditional and it never seems to be enough. This song is calling out to the outcast and saying, ‘You’re not unlovable. You’re never too far gone — in your worst moment, in your loneliest moment, you are still wanted, just as much as the person that seemingly has it all together, is loved by everyone and looks to have this perfect life.’ The baby that opens its eyes for the first time and the hardened criminal that gets sent to jail for the millionth time, does God want one more or less? We are all the same, we are all in need of Jesus and we are all desperately wanted by a Father that won’t stop until He finds every child that is lost.”

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalms 139:7-10 New King James Version)

“I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting to share with you my friends, the ones that have been such a support and on this journey with me, the heartbeat behind the song and ultimately, this record,” continues Maclean. “My prayer is that every note reveals the heart of God the Father and that His Love does what it always does. It heals, restores and makes new again.”

Powerful vocalist and songwriter Dara Maclean first sparked the music industry’s interest with her 2011 debut, You Got My Attention. The album introduced a powerful new voice in Christian pop, steeped in Motown and soul and beaming a heart for the broken and struggling. The LP reached the Top 10 on Billboard‘s Christian Albums chart, and album tracks “Suitcases” and “Free” each hit the Top 20 on Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart. “Suitcases” appeared on the 2012 installment of WOW Hits, celebrating Christian radio’s biggest songs, and You Got My Attention closer “Home” was included in The Bible: Music Inspired By The Epic Mini-Series, a companion to the smash History Channel series. The Texas-bred singer-songwriter earned a New Artist of the Year nomination in the 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards, and spent nearly two years straight on the road with some of Christian music’s biggest names, including Casting Crowns and Newsong, and on major tours including Winter Jam and the KLOVE Acoustic Christmas Tour. Maclean has earned high critical praise throughout, NewReleaseTuesday including her among its Top 10 New Female Christian Singers in 2012, noting that “Dara displays the strongest vocals I’ve heard in years.” Maclean is also passionate about raising awareness and bringing an end to human trafficking and is an advocate for the International Justice Mission.

For additional information on Dara Maclean, please visit





Love & The Outcome to Release Self-Titled Debut Aug. 27

So, I’ve actually seen Love & The Outcome open for the Sidewalk Prophets and I can pretty much sum up their entire 15 minute set in 1 word:  AWESOME!

I loved it, and I have been told by countless others as recently as yesterday how much they loved them, too.  So, with this in mind, today’s news is pretty gosh darn exciting!  My 6 year old is still wearing his L&TO t-shirt faithfully and listening to his sampler CD/EP on repeat a solid month after meeting Chris & Jodi, so I’m happy that they are mega-talented and ‘He Is With Us’ is an amazing song (because we all know how Alex gets when he becomes a fan of musical duo, right?  Or do I really need to bring up for King & Country…again?  🙂


From Press Release:



Duo Reveals Cover and Track Listing for Love & The Outcome


Lead Single, “He Is With Us,” jumps to Top 25 on

Billboard’s Christian Songs chart

Nashville, TN – (June 26, 2013) – Word Entertainment’s Love & The Outcome, recently included in Billboard’s “Bubbling Under” feature on new and noteworthy acts, are gearing up to release their self-titled debut album on August 27. The 11-track album recalls the highs and lows of the journey vocalist Jodi King and bass player/vocalist Chris Rademaker have braved since departing their homeland of Canada, risking it all to pursue their musical dreams. That Jodi and Chris are also husband/wife makes the story that much more vivid. The album features the duo’s debut single, “He Is With Us,” which skyrocketed to the Top 25 on Billboard’s Christian Songs chart and No. 10 on Canada’s CCRC chart in a little over a month since its release (iTunes link here). On Tuesday, Love & The Outcome launched an online campaign here by asking fans to share their own story about how He is with them by tweeting with the tag #HeIsWithUs.


Co-Produced by Seth Mosley (Newsboys), Ben Glover (for KING & COUNTRY), David Garcia (TobyMac) and Jeff Pardo (Matthew West), Love & The Outcome balances Chris’ rock sensibilities with Jodi’s love of melodic pop artists. In addition, the duo’s influence is also revealed in the lyrics as they had a hand in writing each of the 11 tracks on the album.


“We want these songs to become the soundtrack to people’s lives, and hope that the truth of these songs goes beyond the thrill of the live show to plant a seed in people’s hearts: to go for the things that they might be afraid to go for and join this joyful revolution,” said King. “That’s the whole point. A life that requires faith is worth living, and a life on the edge is one where you live hand-in-hand and arm-in-arm with God. That’s what we’re living for.”


Love & The Outcome Track Listing:


  1. When We Love
  2. He Is With Us
  3. No Mistaking (It’s You)
  4. City Of God
  5. Ask
  6. The Story You’re Building In Me
  7. Closer To You
  8. Bring Us Back
  9. King Of My Heart

10. Heart Like You

11. What A Promise


Currently Love & The Outcome are on the road playing dates with the following upcoming shows:


June 29 – Marina Park – Menominee, MI

July 18 – India Hook United Methodist Church – Rock Hill, SC

July 19 – Topeco Church of the Brethren – Floyd, VA

July 20 – AllOutPraise! Festival – Donegal, PA

July 23 – Celebration Community Church – Celebration, FL

July 28 – CornerStone Church – San Antonio, TX

August 3 – Covenant Ranch – Caddo Mills, TX

August 9 – Knoebels Amusement Resort – Elysburg, PA

August 10 – Royal Tailor @ Back to School Bash – Harrisonburg, VA

August 11 – Indiana State Fair – Indianapolis, IN

August 17 – First Baptist Church – Newcastle, OK

August 19 – Young Harris College – Young Harris, GA

August 21 – Cornerstone Church – East Longmeadow, MA

August 22 – Crossroads Church – Pelham, NH

August 23 – Sunday River Resort – Newry, ME

August 24 – Keswick Landing Mall – Keswick, Canada

August 31 – Van Wert County Fair – Van Wert, OH


For Chris and Jodi, Love & The Outcome is both a name and a literal life story. The duo sold their Winnipeg condo en route to a high-stakes musical road trip that has seen them criss-cross Canada, Liberia, the Philippines and China, winning over fans both emotionally and spiritually with their blend of effervescent pop. After signing to Word Records in 2012, they retreated to the mountains of Washington state to record their powerful debut, produced by Mosley along with Ben Glover (for King & Country) and David Garcia (TobyMac). Spring 2013 saw the two back on the road for the “Hundred More Years Tour” supporting Francesca Battistelli and The Afters over 27 dates. For tour dates and further information please visit



Parker’s Story


I always love the movies when someone sees someone from afar at the beginning of a movie, and they instantly know from that moment on that this one person is really, really special. Then, the rest of the movie is chaos and mayhem as the character tries to figure out what exactly that something “special” is.

A few cases in point: Serendipity with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsdale, (sort of) August Rush with Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, or While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, and Peter Gallagher.

If you haven’t seen these movies, you really should. They are all fantastic (particularly While You Were Sleeping)!

The story you are about to read, however, isn’t about a movie from 1995. It’s actually about a story from my own life that has a similar element to it (although, sadly, it’s not a crazy Beth style full of mishaps love story. I know, too bad!)

Let’s rewind a bit to Canal Days back at the beginning of June, and perhaps even a bit before that.
When I was planning the Faith & Family Night event for Saturday night featuring Love & the Outcome and the Sidewalk Prophets, I prayed a lot.

A lot a lot.

I prayed for good weather. I prayed that we would somehow come up with all the sponsorships that we needed. I prayed that I would somehow, someway figure out what the heck I was doing and not make a train wreck out of the whole thing.

I think my most fervent prayer was this: that even if it poured down rain and we ran out of money and the Sidewalk Prophets ended up playing an acoustic set in my driveway for 12 people, at least one heart somewhere in the general vicinity of the 46774 zip code would be changed for the better by something they saw or heard at Faith and Family Night.

Well, I’m happy to report that the weather was perfect on Saturday, June 8th. I did not manage to singlehandedly bankrupt the Canal Days Festival Committee (yippee!) By all accounts, the evening was far from a train wreck and an estimated 4,000 people turned out in the park for the show. (Considering that in previous years we normally drew crowds of about 40 for a show, I was happy with 4,000!)

The only thing I didn’t know was who my ‘one’ was—my one person that I had hoped for, and prayed for. I knew it was likely that I would never really know, and I was actually very content with that as I stood backstage with my sound and lighting guru Nate, looking out at all of the smiling faces who were singing and praising the name of Jesus in Schnelker Park.

I watched as one little boy, maybe my son’s age, caught my eye near the front of the stage. He was singing along with Dave of the Sidewalk Prophets to one of my favorite songs, ‘You Love Me Anyway’, with his eyes closed and his green wristband strapped arms raised in the air.

I’m pretty sure my heart smiled.

For me, that was the face and the moment from Faith & Family Night that I won’t ever forget.
(Okay, so maybe I should be completely honest here. Perhaps the reason I noticed the little boy was his t-shirt. He was wearing a completely awesome blue t-shirt that, at first glance, looked like a Superman shirt. I am a lifelong Superman fanatic. If e-Bay had been around when I was 5, I would have sold my little brother online so I could have his Superman underoos. Anyways, the t-shirt the little boy was wearing wasn’t a Superman t-shirt—instead of an S in the middle of the chest, it had a cross. To quote my own son at age 3, “Jesus is the best superhero ever, Mommy!”)

A few days after Faith & Family Night, I received a message in my “Other” mailbox from people I am not currently friends with on Facebook. This box usually has some interesting mail in it; on this particular day, however, I found a message that said the following: “Beth, here is a picture of my son who LOVES Jesus at the Sidewalk Prophets concert.”

Right below the message was a picture of the moment I remembered from Faith & Family Night. The little 6-year-old boy in the blue Superman style t-shirt, arms up in the air was in my inbox.
His name is Parker, and he may very well be my Faith & Family Night one.

Several days later, I made an appointment to go over to Parker’s house to find out more about this little kid who I had been told talks to the kids on the school bus about Jesus. Parker was smiling out thru the window at me, and he was waving a small piece of paper in the air.

“Look what I’ve got!” he said as soon as I walked in the door. Upon closer examination, I realized he had torn off the page that the Sidewalk Prophets had autographed on his ‘Live Like That’ CD cover.
To put it mildly, the autographed sheet was looking incredibly loved.

“Whose name is that?” Parker asked me, pointing at the different signatures. “What instrument do they play?” he wanted to know. I answered his question, to which he replied “Wow! Wow! Wow!”

On a nearby couch, Parker’s mom, Valerie, sat covered up with a blanket, her multi colored medications lined up in dozens of syringes in front of her on the coffee table.

I actually remembered Valerie as well Parker from Faith & Family Night, because she had been in a wheelchair, sporting a freshly implanted medical infusion port on her chest with IV lines racing up and down her arms. While waiting in line for a Sidewalk Prophets autograph, she had nervously asked me, “Do you think they will take a picture with me even though I’m in a wheelchair?”

Without hesitation, I had replied, “Sweetie, you’re in a wheelchair. I’m pretty sure they would do anything you asked them to as long as it isn’t illegal or immoral.” She laughed, and sure enough, got the picture she wanted a few minutes later.

This particular night in Valerie’s living room, however, she began telling me the story of how she is currently battling Lyme Disease, and how she didn’t always attend Christian music concerts; in fact, it wasn’t until Parker was born after a difficult pregnancy and was placed in the NICU that she had her first real encounter with our loving and merciful Savior.

“It was 2 am in the morning, and I had snuck out of my hospital room and went down to the NICU,” Valerie told me, “and the beeping and the noises from Parker’s bassinet was driving me crazy. I didn’t know if he was going to be okay.”

Valerie stopped for a moment, drawing a shaky breath before continuing on. “My Mom had been going to church for several years, and had been asking me to go with her, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t need any of that.’ Then, at 2 am in the NICU, I dropped to my knees because I couldn’t handle this on my own anymore. I prayed, ‘God, if you are there, I need to know. This is too much for me.’”

What happened next, says Valerie, changed her life forevermore.

Parker’s respiration levels immediately leveled.

His heartbeat regulated.

The beeps were silenced.

“There was just silence,” recalls Valerie. “The hairs on my arms literally stood on end. It was incredibly powerful.”

From then on, Valerie said, she was going to follow Christ.

So was Parker.
She remembers a time when Parker, just 3 years old, was playing outside with his Tonka trucks. Parker had lined up the trucks, talking to a broom in his hand as Valerie and her mother watched from the porch, wondering what he was up to.

Eventually, it dawned on them he was preaching the story of John the Baptist to the Tonka trucks.

At 6 (and 1/2!), Parker still knows his stuff when it comes to Bible, and he still has a big heart for Jesus.

Parker remembers when he was 5 years old, driving along in the car he heard a song on the radio and prayed that Jesus would come into his heart and live. That day was so special he can even tell you the exact day it happened: September 30th, 2012.

Of course, I wanted to talk to Parker about music since it’s kind of my thing. Parker says some of his favorites are Skillet and the Newsboys—he really likes the songs “Monster” by Skillet and “God’s Not Dead” by the Newsboys. He also likes Chris Tomlin, and of course, the Sidewalk Prophets.

While I wanted to know more about Parker and his musical favorites, he wanted to know more about the Sidewalk Prophets; for instance, who was standing where on stage? Who was the guy wearing the hat? Who was the guy with the beard? Who was the happy guy playing the drums? Do you think they remember me? Where was the tambourine? (Sadly, I did not have an answer to that question!)

When I managed to squeeze in a final question of my own, I asked if there was anything else I needed to know about him, Parker responded enthusiastically, “I’m a big Christian! And I’ve read the whole Bible!”

He proudly held up his copy of the Beginner’s Bible. I was notably impressed.

Parker’s mom Valerie says that since attending Faith and Family night earlier this June, and meeting the Sidewalk Prophets, Parker is more aware of Christian behaviors and his faith. According to Valerie, the knowledge that everyone around him at Faith and Family Night knew God and knew the words to the songs made a huge and lasting impression on him.

That’s quite a coincidence, since Parker has made a lasting impression on me.

After getting to know Parker, I was pretty sure he might be interested in a career in music. Pair up his love of music with his public speaking tendencies at the tender age of 3 and the fact that he’s super cute, and I think this kid could go pretty far.

Granted, Parker does want to go far in life; however, he wants to go there as an astronaut, not as a musician.

This started me thinking in a roundabout way again about Parker’s blue t-shirt, the one that initially made an impression on me because it reminded me of Superman. In the new Man of Steel movie about Superman, it is revealed that the S on Superman’s chest isn’t really an S at all, but a symbol for hope on the planet Krypton.

I’m thinking that the way Parker’s blue t-shirt is reminiscent of Superman is quite serendipitous because it is replaced with a cross; Jesus is the ultimate hope, the one true hope that we have in this world.

When Parker’s mom, Valerie, was on her knees in the NICU, He was there to give her hope in one of the darkest times a mother can ever face. It’s obvious, at least to me, that His hand has been on Parker ever since.

That same hope now shines in and through Parker. His smile, his laughter are his school bus testimony;  my hope has been re-affirmed in the goodness of people because of him.

For this, I am very thankful that Parker is my Faith & Family Night one.

Very thankful.

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

Lessons in Love From My Father

I originally wrote this tribute in 2012 for my Dad on Father’s Day.  I edited it and am sharing it again this year because I received such a positive response to it last year.  Happy Father’s Day to you and your Dad from me and my Dad!  ~Beth


I spent a lot of time thinking about the words I wanted to say about my Dad this week in a Father’s Day tribute.  How does one accurately paint a picture with words someone who has been there for you every moment of your life, beginning with your first breath?  It’s a daunting challenge to be sure, but one that I will face like I face the other challenges that I write about every day.  I only know how to write about what I know, about what is written upon my heart.  In this heart of mine, a heart that is a composite of beautiful scars and held together by colorful patches, I carry the love and laughter of my father written in an ink so permanent that time and space, scars and patches, could never erase it.

I’ve always been told that as a new baby, I belonged to my Dad from the moment he first held me in his arms.  My first night home from the hospital, my parents didn’t know what to do with me, this 6 pound, 8 ounce screaming pink bundle of little girl fresh from the womb. It wasn’t until my Dad laid down on the couch, and my Mom placed me, his brand new baby girl against his bare chest, that I finally settled down, content to listen to the beat of his heart.  As I understand it, I spent many a night like that, chest to chest with my father, cradled safely in his arms, sound asleep and at peace in the big, scary world I had been born into.

To my Dad, I imagine I grew up far too quickly, just as my own six year old son has grown up in the blink of an eye.  I still remember just like it was yesterday how it felt to be my son’s age, and how proud I felt to be my Daddy’s Queen B.  I was quite positive that I had the strongest, bravest, most handsome Daddy in the whole world.  When I was with my Dad, I was always so proud to be his little girl, to walk beside him and hold his hand.  When the sun would shine on his flaxen blonde hair, he reminded me of my Barbie’s Ken doll, and I knew, I just knew that I was the luckiest girl in the world to have a Daddy like that.

I can still remember how he smelled, like Old Spice and soap and the leather of baseball mitts.  To me, it was the best smell in the world.   My Dad’s eyes were so blue, like the waters on the lake he would take me fishing on, just the two of us, and teach me how bait my hook with real worms and cast my own line, important things that every little girl needs to know how to do.

There were many other important lessons I learned from Dad that I know I wouldn’t ever have learned from anybody else if he hadn’t been there for me.  From my Dad, I learned to love nature while following him around in the woods, my brown hair in a ponytail swinging behind me, pink rubber barn boots on my feet as I walked behind him, surrounded by the magic I saw in the trees and rivers and heard in the life hidden where I couldn’t see.  My Dad, though, had a gift, and could always see what I couldn’t, and as we walked he unlocked the mysteries I so longed to see:  the doe and her fawn nestled beneath the branch of a tree, the family of squirrels high up in their nest in a tree, watching us as we passed by, a coyote, hungry and on the prowl in the distance.  My Dad taught me the importance of being still, the importance of watching and listening to the life that surrounds you, on our adventures in the wilderness.

I remember when I was maybe 7 or 8, I was finally learning how to ride my bike without training wheels.  Since my family lived in the country, the terrain was not exactly what you would call friendly for learning to ride a bike on.  Once I had finally gotten the basics of riding my bike down in our gravel driveway, I wanted so badly to ride my bike with my Dad while he went on his evening run out on the country roads. Reluctantly, he agreed, but the bike ride ended up being a disaster.

My sky blue banana seat bicycle, and I, took a beating that afternoon. I lost count of how many times I ended up in the ditch, or sunny side up in the middle of the road.  My dad ran his entire two mile route and back while I was still trying to make my way up the first hill past the grain silo less than ½ mile from our house.  As my Dad ran back by me, he said encouragingly, “Don’t give up, Beth!  Go just a little farther than you think you can. I know you can do it!”

That was just the encouragement I needed.

I felt like it took forever for me to find my way back home that night; the sun was sinking low in the sky, fiery orange touching the perfectly paralleled rows of corn as they stretched out as far as my eyes could see.  Yet, as I finally rolled up on my bike to our white, two story farmhouse sitting on the hill nestled between the pussy willow trees and peony bushes, I saw my Dad standing by the mailbox, still in his running clothes, waiting for me.

He had been waiting there for me all night.

That night, I learned from my Dad two important things:  first, you never, ever give up.  Always keep pushing, just a little bit further than you think you can, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.  This truth has served me well during my life, and I owe it all to my Dad.  The second thing my Dad taught me on that summer Indiana night as the fireflies began to light up the night sky is that you never give up on the ones you love.  Never. Even if it takes forever, no matter if it feels like it lasts a lifetime, if you love someone, you keep waiting patiently for them to come back home to you.

Now, I wish I could tell you all that my Dad and I remained the best of friends forever, my Dad the hero of my heart, and I, the Queen B of his. Time has a way of passing even when we don’t want it to, and sweet little girls grow up into willful, headstrong teenagers, no longer children but not yet women, rare hybrids who think they don’t need their fathers anymore.  I think I may have been more willful and headstrong than your average teenage girl, and to put it nicely, I am quite certain there were times that my father didn’t know what to do with me.    My Mom tried enrolling me in Kaydean’s Charm School for girls; however, I was kicked out and she was given a full refund after one session.  I was beyond hope, I guess.  Military School might have been a better choice for me, but I probably would have managed to get kicked out of there, too.

My senior year of high school my strong-willed, insubordinate attitude was coming to a boiling point.  I was an interesting dichotomy at that time in my life, my personality divided into two distinct, parts, sometimes jointly exhaustive and sometimes mutually exclusive.  The reality of that time was that I was a good girl, a sweet girl, a smart girl, a girl who was overwhelmingly successful at everything she did.  I was loved and adored by everyone that I met.  I had a huge heart, and even bigger dreams, and every reason in the world to believe that I could go out and make those dreams come true.

Yet, in my mind, I was unworthy of all of my successes.  I was a catastrophe, never good enough, not smart enough, completely unlovable.  All the love in my heart, all the dreams I held so dear, didn’t really matter because I didn’t believe in myself enough to go out and make something with what I had to give.

My Dad taught me an important lesson about the lies I was telling myself, the untruths that were holding me back from a future I wanted to run towards.  I needed so desperately to know that I was loved, and my Dad found a way to reach me in the middle of the unlikeliest of situations.  In the middle of an Indiana cornfield, my Dad showed me what it meant to be loved unshakably.

I was up to no good with one of my friends one night, trying to be stealth and ninja like while en route to a toilet papering (TP) raid. It will probably surprise no one who knows me that I made a wrong turn into the middle of a cornfield, getting my Mom’s red Ford Astro minivan imperviously stuck in the mud after a hard rain had fallen earlier in the day.   Believe me, my friend Nikki and I tried everything we could think of to get that van out of the mud.  If I had been the Incredible Hulk, I would have lifted it right up and ran with it all the way to County Road 800 East.  Unfortunately, if I was green at all, it was from the thought of what was going to happen to me when my parents found out where the van was at, and how it came to be stuck there.

There were times in my youth I tended to be a little bit delusional, and this was one of those times.  I thought that my parents wouldn’t notice that I had left with my Mom’s van that night, but when I came back home, I had no van, just some really lame excuses and thinly veiled questions like  “Where does Dad keep the shovels at again?”

The next day, the van was still stuck in the mud out in the middle of the field, and Nikki and I were back, furiously trying to dig the Red Devil out.  I was sitting with my back to the road when Nikki said, “Um, Beth, somebody is coming.”

“Who is it?”  I asked, not bothering to turn around and look.  I was busy digging!

“I think it’s just the farmer guy,” Nikki replied, not sounding very sure.

Then, I heard a voice I would recognize anywhere as it erupted in a stream of expletives that I can’t possible repeat here, leaving a death sentence hanging in the air over me.

My dad was standing right behind me.  My mom was, too, but I wasn’t worried about my Mom.  If there was going to be bloodshed, it would be by my Dad’s hands, not my Mom’s.

I was caught red handed, or rather, shovel handed, with the Red Devil up to its axles in mud.

Of course, my Dad demanded to know just exactly how the van ended up in the middle of the field.  I replied innocently enough, “I made a wrong turn.”  My Dad opened the sliding door to the back of the van, which revealed two cases of discount store toilet paper, and several cans of silly string and shaving cream.  He looked at me knowingly, and I knew that he knew exactly what I was up to.

In that moment, I was pretty sure my Dad had done some TPing of his own in his younger days.

“I swear I don’t know how you, of all my children, always manages to be the one to get into so much trouble,” said my Dad, shaking his head and pounding his fist on the hood of the van.

He was right.  Up to that point, I was the reigning queen of catastrophes in our family. In fact, I pretty much still am.

“We will talk about this later, young lady,” my Dad told me, after confirming that both Nikki and I were okay.  “In the meantime, consider yourself permanently grounded, and I think it goes without saying that it will be a long, long time before I ever let you drive one of my cars again.”

To me, this sounded reasonable.  A life sentence without the possibility of parole and never having to drive again was preferable to the alternative of the electric chair, which was what I felt like I deserved.

Later, after the van was extracted from the field and the steam rolling out of Dad’s ears had dissipated after he received the bill for the new transmission, towing service and other repairs, we had the discussion he had promised.  There are a few conversations that my Dad and I have had over the years that stand out vividly in my mind, and this was one of them.  Even though my Dad was unquestionably angry with the choices I had made, even though I made a royal mess of things that night in the cornfield, my Dad loved me anyway; in fact, in my muddles, he grew to love me more because I had revealed for all to see, including myself, that no matter how I old became, I would never be too old to deeply need the love of my father.

How nice it would be to honestly say I never disappointed my father again with the choices I have made in my life, and with the subsequent spectacular failures that followed, but I can’t.  What I can say is this:  my Dad has established a consistent pattern of showing me that when I am in my darkest places, and when my heart is shattered into a million pieces on the ground all around me, he will be there to protect me, to guide me, to help me pick the pieces up one by one until I am tenacious enough to start fighting my battles on my own again.

With everything that I am, I thank my Dad for showing me here on earth a piece of what my heavenly Father’s love for me must be like.

When I am disobedient, He sets me straight. If I’m stuck in the mud, He tenderly pulls me out, sets me straight while loving me any way.

As I sit amidst the broken pieces of my heart, shards littering the ground around me, He picks them up one by one even as it causes His own hands to bleed with grace and mercy.

When I fight with everything I have to climb insurmountable hills with a shaky and unsteady gait, He’s there, too, encouraging me to press on, whispering in my ear, “You can do this!  It’s just a little farther now!”

As I’ve wandered in the desert of my own sinfulness, dying on the inside for a quenching drink that only He can provide, too stubborn and willful to confess my sins, He’s been there waiting by the mailbox patiently for me.  No matter how long it takes for me to come to my senses and come back home to Him, He has always been right there waiting for me, waiting to bring me back home to where I belong.

So, it is with much love and gratitude in my heart for all of these lessons, and the ones left unspoken, that I thank you, Dad.  The older I grow, the deeper I appreciate how blessed I was to have a man like you for a father when I was growing up.  I am infinitely more blessed now to watch you be a Papaw to my Alex, your grandson and spitting image.  If I had one wish to give that would change the world and make it a better place, my wish would be this:  that all the little girls in the world who don’t have a Daddy like you were to me would find one just like you to call their own.

I love you, Dad!  Happy Father’s Day 2013 from your oldest daughter who shall remain always, your Queen B.

Mixing it Up: Man of Steel Review

I recall with vivid clarity going to see the Avengers movie last summer with my husband Jon and our friend Barry Sturgill.  ‘Why?’, you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Was the Avengers movie that great?’

Well, it was good, but not good enough to warrant vivid clarity (at least not in my mind).  The part that really jumped off the screen for me was, in fact, one of the previews for a movie to be released on my birthday, June 14th, 2013:  the brand new Superman movie, Man of Steel.

As an unabashedly unashamed child of the 1980’s who grew up watching the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, I was beyond thrilled.  Of all the superhero franchises, Superman has always been my favorite.  When I was little and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, “Lois Lane!” partly because I wanted to be a reporter and partly because of, well, Clark Kent.

Needless to say, when I found out I was going to get to see Steel first in 3-D  compliments of Wal-Mart for free last night at a pre-release showing of the movie, I was pretty ecstatic.

When I had originally learned that Henry Cavill was going to fill the cape previously worn by Christopher Reeve in the role of Superman, my first thoughts were, ‘This could actually work.’   The only reason I watched The Tudors on Showtime was because of Cavill’s work portraying Charles Brandon in a supporting role as one of the mentally unstable king’s advisors.

In Man of Steel, Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) gives Superman fans a compelling look at the backstory of what initially brought Superman to the Kansas farm of his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent (portrayed by Kevin Costner and an almost unrecognizable Diane Lane).  Without giving too much away, Superman (or Kal El) is born in the midst of chaos on the planet Krypton—fearing for his safety, his father Jor-El (portrayed by Russell Crowe) and mother Lara (portrayed by Ayelet Zurer) send him to Earth to ensure not only his survival, but to make a way for a piece of Krypton to survive the coming planetary apocalypse.

Of course, this does not fit into resident bad guy General Zod’s plans and he vows early on to make it his life’s mission to find and destroy Kal El.

Meanwhile back on earth, outsider Kal El, now known as Clark, struggles with questions that we all face in life:  ‘Why Am I Here?’  As Clark’s path crosses with feisty Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (portrayed by Amy Adams) and nemesis General Zod, he begins to figure out the answer to this question in the midst of eye popping, heart racing action sequences as he races to save Earth.

Here’s a breakdown of what I liked about Man of Steel:  Henry Cavill is the perfect actor for this role.  The storyline was tight, with no major plot holes that I could see on a first viewing (and a lot of subtle humor and a few discreet tributes to the original movies, which I enjoyed).

Perhaps this might sum up what I liked the most about Man of Steel.  Justin Sheehan of New Haven sent me a Tweet last night asking if I thought Man of Steel was better than the Batman movie the Dark Night.

They are both really, really good movies, but really, really different.

The Dark Night is, as you might guess from its title, an exploration of the darker side of heroism, and humanity.  Of course, it is also notable for its legendary portrayal of the Joker by Heath Ledger.

Man of Steel, however, is more focused on exploring the inherent good in people, about delving into the hope that drives and sustains us.  In one of the key scenes in the movie, Lois Lane asks Superman what the S on his chest stands for, and he tells her it isn’t an S at all, but a symbol of hope on his planet, a symbol that every person will be a force for good.

Another key scene in the movie is when Superman goes into a church and the pastor is sweeping the floor.  He tells the pastor that he is the one General Zod and the alien invaders are looking for, but he doesn’t know if he should turn himself in.  He doesn’t trust General Zod, but he doesn’t know if he can trust humans either.  The pastor, after swallowing hard, tells Clark, “Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first.  The trust part comes later.”

I really enjoyed Man of Steel more than the Dark Knight from this perspective because I think it’s precisely the kind of story the world needs more of, not less of.

Here’s what I didn’t like:  Concessions at the movie theater are ridiculously expensive.  For two buckets of popcorn and 2 medium drinks for 5 people last night at the theater, it cost almost $50.  $50!  If the tickets had not been free, that would have been $55 for tickets, plus another $50 for concessions…we’re talking over $100 for 5 people to go to the movies.  Craziness, I say, craziness.

At the end of the movie, the theatre was filled with applause (for the film I would assume, not the popcorn prices).  I was also filled with nostalgia for my childhood, when my little brother Brent would be beside me in his Superman underoos , red cape flying in the wind, while I was at the helm of my invisible jet in my Wonder Woman underoos, the two of us racing off to save the world from evil baby sisters everywhere.

Plumb Works With Metro World Child Brooklyn

From Press Release:
Plumb to Help Shine a Light on Organization Helping the Needs of Inner-City Children
in the US, Romania, Kenya, South Africa, India and the Philippines.
Nashville, TN – Plumb has always been an advocate for children in need, especially in the inner city.  This week, she is traveling to Brooklyn to spend a weekend working first hand with Metro World Child, and beginning a long-term partnership with the organization.  Plumb will be raising awareness and sharing her experience with Metro World Child at, adding more videos and content through the summer.
For the past 33 years, Metro World Child has served youth who are growing up in the roughest circumstances and environments around the globe.  Believing that transformation comes from the inside, the organization is purposefully designed to break destructive cycles and give children the hope they need to create a new path for their lives.  Through sound biblical principles that transcend cultures, denominations, race and generations, Metro World Child reaches nearly 100,000 inner-city children and their families in New York City and various urban centers around the world each week.
This weekend, Plumb will experience their work in New York City, where she will speak at the weekly staff meeting, visit children in their homes, help with several of the weekday “Sidewalk Sunday Schools” and share in their “Indoor Sunday School,” where over 4,000 children participate each weekend.
Metro World Child is unique in their ability for involvement.  A global, faith-based humanitarian organization, Metro operates in more than 220 sites in New York City alone with after school programs, Sunday School services, child sponsorship, special programs and personal home visits. Supporters are encouraged to have a ‘hands on’ experience, offering internships, ministry opportunities, volunteer opportunities and site visits.
Plumb will be active on social media this weekend, sharing her experience through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
About Metro World Child:
Metro World Child is a global, faith-based humanitarian organization dedicated to serving inner-city children throughout New York City and various urban centers around the world.  For more information, see

Interesting New Kickstarter Fund…Storms in the Desert

I received an e-mail this afternoon about the following Kickstarter project that is looking for backers—I thought it looked rather interesting, and a bit different from the kind of music that I usually feature here on Spin: the Blog (but music I like nonetheless!)  Check it out below and see if it is something that might interest you, too!


Storms in the Desert is a biblically-rooted music project by two Christian artists. Inspired by Jacob’s last words to his twelve sons, Storms in the Desert will bring together the power of the orchestra with a rich biblical passage to produce a high-quality recording. Gustav Hoyer, the creator of Storms in the Desert, says, “Many of Western Civilization’s most enduring works draw on its Judeo-Christian heritage. There is incredible drama in the words that the patriarch Jacob speaks to his sons on his deathbed.  This project will bring the majesty of the orchestra together with the power of Mr. Webb’s voice, bringing this iconic moment to life through music.”

Hoyer sees art and beauty as very important in the life of a Christian.  He says, “Thus, the works of the theologian, the philosopher, and the scientist, each devoted to a pursuit of Truth, become beautiful in their representation.  But the artist joins their company as an expositor of Truth through the creation of Beauty.  Art matters.  Artists matter.  The active pursuit and perception of Beautiful things is a mandate that stems from our shared heritage as bearers of God’s image.”

At the time of this posting, the project only has 26 more days to reach its funding goal, and it will not be possible without the support of people like you. If you are interested in supporting this biblically-inspired, exciting project, from a duo of award-winning, Christian artists, the Kickstarter link is below.

Will you join our efforts to create Biblically-inspired art? We need your support…we only have 25 days left. The Church has long history of lofty art in the tradition that spawned Augustine, Aquinas, Milton, Donne, Bach, Mendelssohn, Hugo, Tolstoy, etc… the Art of the church lives in our time too…please help us by spreading the word!


Skillet to Tour Europe with Nickelback this Fall

Yes, you read that correctly.

Skillet.  Nickelback.  One Tour.  One Continent.

My first thought was, how does something like that even happen?  

My second thought was Romans 8:28:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Perhaps there are some things, like Skillet touring with Nickelback, that we will never understand this side of heaven.  Rest assured, we can trust that Romans 8:28 is true.

I will leave it at that, because this is supposed to be a positive and encouraging blog.  (Granted, I’m being tested today.  Really, really tested.)

If you would like more information about the tour, check it out here.

Also, if you are one of my many beloved European readers and happen to go check out this tour come fall, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.  Send me an e-mail at