Your Random Questions Answered

Dear Readers,

In the past, one of the more popular regular columns I wrote for my blog was called “From the E-Mail In-Box”.  In these entries, I would answer some of the many questions I get from the people who read my blog.  Since I have written a post in awhile, and I’m coming up short on inspiration currently, I thought I would dig into the old e-mail inbox and pull out a few questions to answer tonight.  If you have a good question for me, send it to me at and it might just end up featured in a future “From the E-mail Inbox” segment!

(PS–I kind of picked easy to answer questions for tonight’s purposes.  I’m feeling rather brain dead after Christmas!)

Question #1 is from Kevin in Nashwauk, Minnesota.  He writes, “What are your favorite TV shows to watch?”

Answer to Question #1:  Honestly, I don’t have time to watch a lot of TV.  I’m sort of embarassed to admit it, but the one and only show I make it a rule never to miss is Criminal Minds.  Growing up, I always dreamed of being an FBI Agent so I guess I’m vicariously living out my dream on Wednesday nights on CBS.  I also watch some shows on Hulu Plus and Netflix.  My favorites are Parks & Recreation (I am the brunette Leslie Knope), Downton Abbey, and the IT Crowd.  I also have been known to watch Dr. Who, but I will deny this if ever asked in person.

Question #2 is from Mathilda in York, England.  She writes, “If you were going to be stranded on an island and could only take one band’s music with who, which band would you take and why?”

Answer to Question #2–First of all, I hope that if I am ever stranded on an island it is Prince Edward Island in Canada.  I’ve always wanted to visit there.  No really, I have. 

Secondly, what a great question!  I had to think about this one for awhile to make a good decision.  If push came to shove and I had to pick one band it would have to be Kutless.  I debated my other favorite, the Sidewalk Prophets, but in the end decided that they only have two CDs out and since I’ve listened to both many, many times, I’d probably get bored after awhile. 

Kutless is the next logical choice.  I really like a lot of their songs, and have at least 7 of their CDs so I would have a lot to listen to.  “IT Is Well” is one of my all time favorite CDs, “Strong Tower” is one of my all time very favorite songs, and I dearly love their newest single, “Even If”.  As a matter of fact, I can picture myself singing “Even if…I never get rescued” right now.

So, my #1 choice of bands to take with me on a desert island would be Kutless.  (Now, do I actually get to take the band with me or just the CDs and boom box?)

Question #3–Leah from Taylorsville, Utah, writes:  “What’s your favorite movie ever?”

Answer to Question #3–Easy.  That would be “While You Were Sleeping.”  I also like “Serendipity” quite a bit.  Those who know me realize that I probably like both of these movies because the plot would be entirely plausible in my life.

Question #4–Amanda from Lafayette, Louisiana, writes:  “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?”

Answer to Question #4–Pawnee, Indiana.  (Just kidding, I totally love the show Parks & Recreation but I’m pretty sure Pawnee is a fictional place.) I’ve already mentioned my decision to be stranded on a desert island (OK, Prince Edward Island) with Kutless.  If I had to pick someplace else, I would probably go with either Australia or England.  Australia because it seems like an interesting place and England because I like tea and would love to meet a real Queen.  (Leah, are you offering to send me a ticket?  We could go together!)

Question #5 is from Alles in Dallas, Texas, who writes: “If you could have any pet, what would it be?”

Answer to Question #5–Well, in the past I’ve had pet chickens, rabbits, fish, guinea pigs, cats, and dogs galore.  If I’m chosing something new, I’d go with a fire breathing dragon.  Or a dolphin.  Dolphins look like they could be fun.

Thanks to everyone for the questions!  Now, it’s time for me to get back to defending myself from my husband’s automatic firing Nerf gun that I foolishly bought him for Christmas.  I also bought one for my son, but the person who really needs a Nerf gun around here is me!

Much Love & Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!


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!

Tuesday Tunes Playlist

Dear Readers:
I’ve received quite a few e-mails lately asking me about what my music playlist sounds like lately. Yes, I’m aware that I have been somewhat negligent in writing about music lately, and I do apologize for that.  So for fun today I thought I would post a Tuesday Tunes Playlist of what I have been listening to lately and what has been speaking to my heart. Enjoy!
#15—The Words I Would Say (Sidewalk Prophets)—Yep, I realize that this is kind of classic.  It’s by far the oldest song on this list. Lately, this song has been popping up in my life in weird places when I need a boost.  For instance, I was in a real foul mood at Gordon Food Service shopping for a picnic at church last weekend, and sandwiched in between songs by The Cure and Bon Jovi was ‘The Words I Would Say’.  Very strange, but in a good way.  It definitely brought a smile to my face and turned my attitude around in record time.
#14—Obsolete (Sara Groves)—I really like Sara Groves.  She has a haunting quality to her voice and the lyrics to her songs are just flat out brilliant.  This song just kind of hits my feelings on the head lately, and in a way that I don’t think even I could describe as well as Sara does in this song.  Highly recommended listening, along with the rest of the her album ‘Invisible Empires’.
#13—Redeemed (Big Daddy Weave)—This song just touches my heart every time I hear it, which fortunately is quite frequently as it’s getting a lot of radio play these days in my neck of the woods.  I think this may be my all-time favorite BDW song!
#12—Higher (Lecrae featuring Tenth Avenue North)—I have to admit, when I first saw this song listed on Lecrae’s newest album, Gravity, I did a double take.  Lecrae…and Tenth Avenue North?  How exactly would something like that work, anyway?  Well, let me say for the record it works quite beautifully.  Great song, I totally love it.  Further proof (at least to me) that Tenth Avenue North makes everything better!
#11—Gold (Britt Nicole)—There are a lot of really good songs on Britt Nicole’s latest project.  If I had to pick one, I’d say ‘Gold’ is one of my favorites.  Without fail, it brightens my day and gets me going no matter what else might be going on.
#10—Pushing on a Pull Door (For King & Country)—Yes, for those of you in the know, this is my theme song.  I have written an entire short story based upon inspiration derived from this song. Luckily, I haven’t actually been hanging upside down lately like I was in the story I shared, but I’ve definitely been pushing on some pull doors lately. 
#9—Good Morning (Mandisa featuring TobyMac)—Here’s a no fail recipe for a song that I will love:  Have Mandisa sing something positive and upbeat, and toss in some TobyMac for good measure.  Seriously, that’s a no fail recipe for a great song.  These two together are like peanut butter and jelly (well, that might not be the best example since I’m allergic to peanut butter). Anyway, I think you get the picture.
#8—For the First Time Again (Jason Gray)—I’ve just recently discovered Jason Gray, and I’m quickly becoming a fan.  This song really hit me the other day while I was driving along in my car, as it very accurately described a place in my life I’ve been feeling lately.  I’ve listened to it a lot in the time since then.  If you are feeling a little run down, I would recommend listening to this song for sure!
#7—Opposite Way (Leeland)—I had a strange experience with this song over the weekend.  Honestly, if I’ve listened to this song once, I’ve listened to it a hundred times  as I love the CD Opposite Way.  Yet, as I was driving along the highway on interstate I-469 on Sunday, Opposite Way came on the radio and it was as if I heard it for the first time.  I was struck by the lyrics, and I swear it was like I never really heard what was being said in this song before.  I would encourage you if you don’t have this CD to get it, or at the very least look up the lyrics to this song.   Beautiful, poignant, touching.  Definitely go check it out!
#6—All I see is You (Trevor Morgan)—I really like Trevor Morgan’s CD, The Blessed and the Broken. If you don’t have it, you should. It’s really, really good.  I’ve been listening to All I See Is You a lot lately, and it has become the prayerof my heart these last few weeks. Another highly recommended song, and CD.
#5—Angel By Your Side (Francesca Battistelli)—Her name maybe difficult to spell and kind of hard to say, but definitely worth the effort.  I love this song, as it has been both an encouragement and comfort to me lately. 
#4—Even If (Kutless)—I’m a longtime fan of Kutless, and as such I have to admit that their latest project “Believer” is one of my favorites.  What I like about Kutless is that they sing the truth.  They aren’t compelled to make everything tidy and neat, and they tend to cut straight to the heart of what really matters.  I really admire them for that.  Even If is one of those songs that is a brilliant amalgamation of hard truths amidst a unifying hope in the Lord.  For sure, if you haven’t yet, you’ll want to give this song a listen.
#3—Center of It (Chris August)—I posted a review on my blog awhile back about Chris August’s new CD, The Upside of Down.  It’s been in a continual state of replay since I got it back in August.  It was hard to pick just one song off of the album to include on this playlist, but I decided to go with Center of It because of the reminder it provides me that no matter what is going on in my life, God is in the center of it all.  Worth a listen (or a hundred!)
#2—Never (Hyland)—Okay, here’s my rant for today.  I think Hyland is one of most underrated groups in Christian music today.  They have some really great songs and I so enjoy listening to their CD, Weights and Measures.  They also have a single out called “Beauty in the Broken,” which I think is spectacular.   Their song, Never, is also a standout in my book.   The lyrics are so relatable and heartfelt that I find myself coming back to listen to this song over and over. 
#1—Banner of Love (Luminate)—This is such an awesome song it should be mandatory listening for everyone.  If everyone listened to this song, and then attempted to live by the lyrics, the world would no doubt be a more beautiful place.  Truthfully, if you haven’t heard this song yet, you need to listen to it and you’ll see why it’s my #1 pick on my playlist this week! 
And there you have it!  You can view pins of all of these videos on my Pinterest Board, Tuesday Tunes Playlist!
Much Love,