Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In My Head

Since I have had so much going through my head over the past several weeks (and longer), I decided to lump them all together in an end-of-the-year-beginning-of-the-new-year-pre-wedding blog. So, here's what's in my head:

1. I'm getting married tomorrow!
2. I don't have everything done that I wanted to get done, but I have enough done to get by.
3. I really need to be packing right now instead of blogging.
4. I wonder if my bag will be big enough for the honeymoon, or if I should pack the bigger one.
5. I hit a deer.
6. I hope I can find some cuff links before the wedding.
7. I'm really ready to get this over with.
8. I mean it was last week, and I barely even felt it, but that deer jacked up Spot pretty good. The deer feels nothing now, though.
9. Do I have enough underwear?
10. Spot is my truck's name. He needs a new headlight.
11. Happy New Year!
12. What the crap?!?!?! I'm getting married tomorrow!!!!! (It's okay. Just breathe. Don't hyperventilate. Just breathe.)

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, December 26, 2008

This Christmas

This Christmas is different for me than any other Christmas in my 32 years on this planet. Several reasons. First, it’s my first Christmas with my future (in one week!) in-laws. I never imagined being this close to marriage a year ago, but it’s something that God has done in my life and I’m thankful. Second, it’s my first Christmas outside of Texas (that I know of). It’s odd how traditions are so easily broken when there’s a good reason. I believe that if I had gone to Texas this Christmas, I’d come back to Tennessee more broke than I already am. Providence. Third, it’s my first Christmas in which I don’t get to see my Dad. I’ve always been able to see him on or around Christmas day, but I won’t get to see him until probably April (God willing) because of low fundage, wedding preparation, moving, and plenty of other reasons. I’ll admit. I was really upset when I first realized I wouldn’t see my Dad anymore this year, but I found hope. I found hope in the work I’ve been able to do with the church. Every year, the church where I work does a food / clothing / toy giveaway called “Christmas Blitz” and it was started several years ago by the late Tommy Gill. Shortly before he died, he told me, “Do good things for people and good things will happen for you.” Very similar to a Bible verse that says, “Give and it will be given to you.” That’s what Christmas Blitz is all about. We gather up food, clothing and toys, box it up, and deliver it to area families who are struggling. Some have a little food to get them through the holidays. Some have nothing at all. Steph and I met an elderly couple who is taking care of 2-year-old twin girls who were born prematurely and have had health problems all their lives. That’s got to be nightmarish at times. I can’t imagine being in that situation. But God is faithful. He brought them more than enough food to get through the holiday season, as well as some great toys and gifts for the girls. It reminds me to count my blessings daily. I may have gotten tons of stuff for Christmas. I may have gotten nothing material for Christmas. I’m not discussing that with people. What I will discuss, though, are the huge blessings I received from people who allowed us to give them hope for the holidays and a sense of joy and family. How many people do we know who have no hope or joy or peace or family? You might be surprised when you think about it. So, as we reflect on Christmas time, let’s reflect on the joy that comes from giving and from family. Let’s be in constant prayer for those who can’t be with family or loved ones this holiday season, especially our troops. Blessings to you all, and don’t forget…


Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Special Needs

Some of you (now, all of you) know that I used to drive school buses when I was in college in Texas. One of the greatest privileges I ever had was driving special needs buses. I know. You can joke all you want about me having been the driver of the "short bus" (but should've been one of the passengers), but I found that one of the most honorable jobs I've ever had was getting to serve children and young adults with special needs. Of course, I was a bit nervous when I started monitoring and driving those buses. Who wouldn't be. The difference, though, is that I learned very quickly that people with special needs are still people. Some of them are physically challenged, some have psychological hinderances, some simply think and act on a much younger maturity level than that of their age. Whatever the case, these kids really are special.

For example, I was monitoring one morning when we picked up one of our autistic passengers. This child was quite large for his age and a little on the mischievous side. This particular morning, I had a candy bar open and sitting on my seat next to me. When we loaded this passenger, my chips were still where I had left them. I got his seat belt fastened and turned around to answer a question the driver had asked me. When I turned around, my candy bar was gone! I looked at the culprit just in time to watch him scarf down the last bite of chocolaty goodness... the chocolate bar I had paid 65 of my hard-earned cents for! We got a good laugh out of that one.

On a different bus that I drove, I had a brother-sister combo who rode to school together. The brother was a few years older than the sister and wasn't in the special needs program, nor did he need to be. It was the sister who needed the special attention, so he rode to school and home with her to help her out. She used a walker and had a lot of trouble speaking. I believe she had some sort of palsy. Either way, they picked on each other a lot, as all good siblings should. One day, the brother was picking on his little sister so much that she got sick of it and threatened to hit him over the head with her walker... and she would've done it, too! I think the only thing that stopped her from trying to knock him out was her seat belt!

The thing that really changed my heart about special needs kids, though, was a kid who suffered with severe mental retardation. He couldn't speak, could barely walk, had to wear a helmet because his motor skills weren't always reliable. He was (and still is) an amazing child. I guess he's probably over 21 years of age now, although his mind is still that of an infant. The thing that got to me was the driver who was driving when I first met this passenger. Since the passenger had trouble walking, I, as monitor, had to get out of the bus and help his mom or brother or other family member get him into the bus. He would sit there in silence all the way to school. Then the driver and I would team up to help him off the bus. One day the driver, his name is Dave, said something that I'll never forget. He looked up in the mirror at this particular rider and said "I wonder what goes through his mind all day."

I wonder what goes through our minds all day. Do we spend the majority of our day griping and whining about how bad the world is to us, or do we try to think of ways to be good to the world? Do we think about the impure images we're constantly bombarded with, or do we seek redeemed images of our spouse, or better yet, images of our Savior? Do we waste our time worrying about the money we don't have so we can buy the stuff we don't need and then worry about the money we don't have, or do we count our blessings, thanking God for being all we need?

We're all children with special needs in one way or another. The One who meets all our needs made us special.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, October 31, 2008


1.1.09 - 12:00 PM - Nashville, TN

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Honoring The Fallen

The past month has seen a lot of death, especially in my world. I really appreciate all the kind comments you (the readers) left on my last entry. I love it when we honor the memory of our loved ones. That being said, I'd like to honor my friends as well. Please, copy and paste the links below in your browser to read more about these outstanding individuals.

Debra Dee Ortiz
May 23, 1990 - September 29, 2008
I had the honor of teaching Debra when she was a freshman and sophomore at Canyon High School (Canyon, TX). She always had a big, beautiful smile on her face. She was one of the most kind-hearted, sincere, hard-working, unselfish students I ever got to teach. Although I didn't get to work with her on a regular basis, she was always there in the band, working hard to achieve all the goals she had set for herself. It seems like she always had a kind word to say, even when other people didn't. I will miss her contagious smile and the dedication she had for everything she did. Blessings to her family.

Marc R. Schoch
March 7, 1987 - October 21, 2008
At the end of marching band season in 2004, I had all the members of the drum line sign an old drum head and I kept it as a reminder of how great it was to teach those kids that season. One of the reasons it was so great for me was Marc Schoch. Marc was always at the top of the section. He worked hard on a daily basis. He always had this great energy about him that told me he was going to be the best he could be and bring other people along with him. He was one of my private students as well. I loved teaching Marc. He always listened well and took instructions to heart. In the spring of 2005, he was a featured soloist in the marimba trio "Stubernic" and he completely nailed it. Now that I think about it, I think he was one of the ones who started calling me 'Papa B.' What a great kid and a tragic loss! Blessings and comfort to the Schoch family.

Billie Wayne Lemons
ca. 1955 - October 12, 2008
Billie was a great friend of the Brannon family and a wonderful example to me. He taught me to be bold in my faith. He taught me how to sing from the depths of my soul. He was the one who told me "lead songs as if you had written them." He changed the way I viewed life. He was always full of joy and his smile was one that always brought comfort. He was a great mentor, teacher, motivator, father, son. He played football for Texas A&M back in the 70's and spent a season with the Cleveland Browns. His son (and my friend), Devin, followed in his footsteps... sort of. Devin played football at Texas Tech (and did very well there) and spent a little time in the NFL with Chicago, Miami, and Washington. Although he never really saw any playing time, he still got there, which is not something most folk can say they did. Billie's dad, Wayne Lemons, did the eulogy for my mother's funeral back in 1989. The whole Lemons family is close to the Brannon family. That's why I'm so saddened to have heard about Billie's sudden death. I can still hear his beautiful tenor voice singing "People Get Ready" with the Harvesters 4 when I was a teenager... and younger. Oh, how I will miss him! Blessings to his family, which is just like my extended family.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Tragedy

I'm sure some of you have heard about this, but most of you have not. Even so, I have bad news. As most of you know, I taught in Texas before I moved to Nashville. One of the schools I taught was Amarillo High School. At AHS, I had a student named Marc Schoch (sounds like 'shook'). Marc was one of my best students when he was in high school. He always worked hard, took instruction well, and made great improvement on a daily basis. I received a phone call yesterday that Marc's roommate at Texas Tech University found him dead in his dorm room from an apparent suicide.

Marc is the second one of my students who has lost their life in the past month. Debra Ortiz was a band member in Canyon, TX when I was an assistant band director there. She was killed in a terrible car wreck on her way to Amarillo College (as a freshman) September 29th. I didn't work as closely with Debra as I did with Marc, but she was a fantastic student and a beautiful individual.

Please, pray for the Schoch family and all the people who knew and loved Marc that we will find some peace and comfort in this unmentionably tragic time. Also, pray for the Ortiz family and Debra's loved ones as they still mourn.


Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

At The Cross

Sometimes your world is bright with laughter.
Sometimes it's stained with tears.
Sometimes it's overflowing with non-stop worship.
Sometimes it's clouded with fear.

No matter what this life brings,
Whether for gain or loss,
You will always find joy, peace, and rest
When you meet Him at the cross

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Fresh Start

This is a word that I felt appropriate to share until I can come up with my own words. I'll write something original soon enough. Just waiting for the right thing to write. Hope you read, enjoy, and get something good out of this. I didn't write it. My friend, Paul, did. It's a great outline of how we all have been called to live. The key word is...



Colossians 3 (English Standard Version)

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Colossians 3

Put On the New Self

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Rules for Christian Households

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Big Ol' Double-Shot, part 1

Hey Kids! I know it's been a while, so here are a pair of blogs to kinda play catch-up for the last few weeks.

We got to visit northeastern Pennsylvania a couple weekends ago which landed us in Scranton, PA, home of Dunder and Mifflin Paper Company. Of course, “The Office” is filmed in California, but the city of Scranton is still capitalizing from the show’s success. So, for all you fans of “The Office,” we (Mark “Kix-in-the-Mix” Hixson and I) took a couple of pics that I thought would be fun to share. Most of them are kinda tough to see, so I’m posting some of the better ones. Hope you enjoy!

Kix wanted some pics with some of the characters from the show. 

Another shot with more “people” 

Kix at the “Crystal Club“

The famed “Farley’s Pub,” complete with Bouncer

We also had a great time in concert at the Spruce Lake Retreat in Canadensis, PA. We spent the day with a
great bunch of people celebrating Labor Day weekend. 

We had a total blast on this trip. We hope to see more of our Aca-friends soon at a concert near you!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

A Big Ol' Double-Shot, part 2

I got to spend the majority of a week with Roo and her family in Myrtle Beach, SC. We were there until the day before Hurricane Hannah hit the coast. As a matter of fact, it had already started raining by the time we started driving back to Nashville. This is a shot of the beach the day before we left…

And this is the same beach the day we left…

What kind of mess is that, huh? God does some truly amazing things!

On the drive back, God started doing some amazing things in Steph’s and my relationship. God has this uncanny ability to teach people different things about ourselves that completely change the way we live. He did that with Stephanie and me over the last week and a half. He went to some crazy extremes to show us what we needed to learn. It’s an intriguing story, full of suspense, heartbreak, redemption, and reconciliation. She can tell this story much better than I, so I’ll post her story as soon as she posts it on her blog. What I will say is that He has totally changed the way she and I approach our relationship for the better…best! I’ll write more about this later. I’m excited to see where God is taking us!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We buried a great man yesterday. Tommy Gill was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, friend, and child of God. He was giving, caring, loving, compassionate. He was Jesus to so many people who needed help. He was Jesus to me by giving me a place to live while I get myself back in order financially. He fought fires for 28 years and he fought cancer for 18 years. He understood and promoted the value of hard work and was the embodiment of generousity. He was always joyful. I never spoke to him when he didn't have a big ol' grin on his face. He loved to sing. He loved good music, especially bluegrass. And he loved his family. I know his wife, Dora, meant the world to him. Tommy suffers no longer. Now he lives with his Father and he still loves us. We'll miss him but we look forward to the day when we see him again. Tommy Gill was, and is, a great man of God. Let's celebrate his life by living our lives for the One who gave us this time to live. Live out loud!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, August 08, 2008

Women Who Worship

I saw the most amazing thing a couple weeks ago. We were in Elmira, NY doing a concert at North Presbyterian Church for a crowd of about 200-300 people when I looked into the middle of the room and saw two people doing something I haven't seen in quite some time. They were worshiping with reckless abandon! Erin, the promoter who brought us to Elmira, and her friend Kathy spent the whole hour and a half in awestruck worship to Jesus. I'd be willing to bet that if some of us saw the way they were behaving we would question their sanity, run away from them in fear and confusion, make fun of them, or whatever we could do to negate their idea of worship. But they didn't pay any attention to what the people around them thought. It is evident by their actions that they live their lives in abject worship. I'm not saying they have it all together or that they're perfect. None of us are. What I'm saying is that they both spend all their time, whether in public or in private, in constant conversation with God, and that's the beginning of a great relationship. I wish I had that kind of relationship with God. I'm not there yet, by any means, but I want to always be aware that God is listening intently to what I have to say. He's listening to my praise and my put-downs, my joy and my junk, my heart of worship and my heart of worry. I can't wait for the day when He takes all the bad stuff (put-downs, junk, worry, etc) and throws it into the fire! I don't want it anymore and I know I never needed it. So, I'm gonna take Erin's and Cathy's example and try to put it to work in my life. From the looks of it, that's what a life of praise looks like.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Joy, Pain, Fear, and Perseverance

In trying to understand my negative qualities in order to fix or alleviate them, I've been thinking about my past and what got me to the place where I am now. I thought about the good times that I've been fortunate enough to experience. I thought about how the good things that happen in life often come from some sort of trial or pain. That led me to think about how some painful events or situations came from things that were originally good. The pain of failure can come from the joy of education if you bomb the final. The joy of winning first prize in the relay race can come from the pain of having to replace the anchor runner of the team because of illness.

I've experienced joy that started with pain. Ten years ago I was struggling through a back injury that nearly cost me my spot as timpanist / section leader for Blue Knights. There was a stretch of nearly two weeks where I couldn't make it through a full day of rehearsal, and in the world of drum corps, that's likened to missing almost a month of school! That back injury made me stop playing for a while, but I started thinking more about the music I was supposed to be playing and figuring out ways to make it better. It's always nice when you can take a step back and look from a distance at how things are and how they should be. Because I was able to stop and regroup mentally, I was able to go to the next level of my musical ability. By the end of that season I had aged out of drum corps as World Champion Timpanist for Drum Corps International and as Best In Section for Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps.

I've also experienced extreme pain that stemmed from joy. I'm blessed to be part of a big family. For many of us, family is one of God's greatest treasures. He gives us people to care for us when we're young, teach us as we grow, encourage us as we struggle through adulthood, raise as our own children and grandchildren, and care for us again when we're old. At the same time, he takes away those very same people. I've dealt with a lot of death and loss in my lifetime. I lost my great-grandfather, Robin James (after whom I am named) at age 4, my Uncle, Charlie Staples (also after whom I am named) just after I turned 13, my mother, Shirley, about a month after Uncle Charlie, my brother, Ernie, when I was 24, my brother, Ron, when I was 26, my Gram, Bea Adams, when I was 27, and so many aunts, uncles, cousins, friends along the way. I've been engaged to be married twice, yet I've never been married yet. I've lost countless friendships for countless reasons. I've lost jobs and job opportunities. I've lost places to live and people to live with. All of these things and people brought joy to me at some point, but that joy was stifled by the pain of losing them.

I guess that's why I struggle with fear. I've become accustomed to living with the fear that all that I have and know and love will be taken from me. That sounds like I just walk around all day hoping God doesn't take something else from me...and it's somewhat true, but it's much more complicated than that. See, I know very well that God will give and take away because that's what He does. However, I'm a little selfish and somewhat insecure which means I tend to want to hold on to what I have. It really hurts me when God takes things or people from me. That's when I have to remember that God is painting this picture that is so much bigger than my life and my selfishness. He chose to include me in that picture, but I'm not the focal point of it. Jesus is. So, if I tough it out and trust God enough to know that He knows what's best, I will find all that joy that I lost and I'll find it in Him. Ain't that good news?!

- - -
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your Name
by Matt Redman
album: Where Angels Fear To Tread (2002)

Peace, Love and Chocolate

Monday, July 07, 2008


Things are going well. Steph and I are doing great, I'm busy with Acappella and my job at the church, and I get to see my folks next week. I'm headed home for a few days before our concerts in Oklahoma City (Edmond) and Tulsa (come see us in concert if you're in the area.. so I'm excited about that. We just finished up with Acafest and that went rather nicely. Now we're gearing up for the rest of July. Once this month is over, life will calm down immensely. So, I wanted to share a song that's been on my heart for a some time now. It's a reminder that no matter what happens in my life, God is still God and nothing will ever change that. It's a reminder that He loves me and He is merciful to me, even though I don't deserve it. Remember Him as you go through your week. I bet you'll be glad you did!


Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever,
Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever

People from every nation and tongue
From generation to generation

We worship you
We worship you
For who you are...

We worship you
We worship you
For who you are

You are good

You are good - all the time
All the time - you are good

Year: 2001

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I wanted to share this song with you because I'm in the process of moving and I probably won't be online quite as much as I have been... so I may not be blogging quite as often. I'll try to post something on a regular (or at least semi-regular) basis. Soooo... enjoy this one!


Movin', gotta keep movin'
Groovin', stay in the groove (yes)
Movin', gotta keep movin'
Pressing on, striving toward the goal, (yes)

Well every one of us is in a race
And we're running for the prize
It takes time and energy to train
A spiritual exercise
Throw off every weight that slows you down
Take that path that Christ has led
Forget everything that is behind
And just strain toward what's ahead
And just keep on (movin'...)

Well everyday we have to make a choice
Say true to what is right
Overcome everything that's in our way
And fix our eyes on Christ
Just keep pressing on up toward the goal
Where a crown of life you'll find
Well no doubt Christ will be waiting there
When we cross the finish line
And we just keep (movin'...)

Jesus died on the cross
Willing to die for even me
Now he reigns up on high
Don't give up or become weary

Words and music: Ken McAlpin © 1999 Clifty Music (BMI)
Lead: Ken McAlpin (chorus and bridge), All Step Out in Verses

Scriptural Reference:
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend

I'm recovering from a whirlwind of a weekend. Lots of stuff can go down in four days, and did it ever! I have to take this opportunity to thank Rhonda Coleson, our booking agent, for all of her help and support. She's been awesome and we couldn't have made it through this weekend without her. So, the ten peso version of the story is: we went to Little Rock, Dallas, and Searcy, AR, leaving on Friday and returning yesterday. It was a fun trip and we are glad to be back in Nashville.

Now here's the million dollar version!

Friday, June 13th
Zach Wilson and I drive the Acappella van and trailer to Little Rock. The original plan was for us to get there around 6:00 PM and get settled into our housing for the night. Arrangements had been made for our van and trailer to be cleaned and detailed in Little Rock on Saturday while we flew to Dallas. Most of that plan happened the way it was supposed to...except for the van. It broke down again. We were driving down I-40 toward Memphis, not quite an hour out of Nashville, and it just quit running. We had to pull onto the side of the road and start making phone calls. Somehow, the van started again and we got back on the road. There were lots of prayers going up on our behalf, and they worked! We eventually made it to Little Rock around 8:00 and got the van where it needed to be. Zach stayed with our booking agent's sister and her husband, and I stayed with my best friend's brother and his wife. It was great to see them and spend a little time with them. It was a long day, but we got through it and prepared ourselves for Saturday. (by the way, it was also my late brother, Ron's, birthday. He would have been 42.)

Saturday, June 14th

Zach and I flew from Little Rock while Zac George, Allen Brantley, and our newest member, Anthony Lancaster (if that name sounds familiar, it's because he's our boss' son) flew from Nashville to Dallas. We all met there to be inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. That's an experience I won't forget. We were inducted along with the likes of the Jordanaires (featuring one of my heroes, Ray Walker) who sang for a time with Elvis Presley, the Cathedrals, Lulu Roman from Hee-Haw, songwriter David Meece, the Imperials, Jessy Dixon, the Florida Boys, and many other pioneers in the Christian music world. There were also tributes to Larry Norman (Bebo Norman's dad and the "father of Christian rock music")and Dottie Rambo, one of the greatest gospel music songwriter who ever lived. Both Larry and Dottie died earlier this year, so it was a great night. We were honored and humbled to have been a part of it.

Sunday, June 15th
We flew back to Little Rock and were met at the airport by our freshly cleaned van and trailer, courtesy of Kevin, another brother-in-law of our booking agent. We drove our nice clean van an hour away to Searcy for the first of three concerts at Harding University for Uplift. After we checked into the hotel, Jacob and Laura, who both work for Harding, took us to lunch at the Rib Crib. That's good eatin' right there! We headed back to the auditorium and got our lights and sound set up. It was the first time we had set up lights since October, so the process was a little slower than normal, but we got it done in time. We had some dinner (Brick Oven Pizza) and went to the hotel to get ready for the concert. I finally got to call my dad and wish him a happy father's day. I hope you did too! Anyway, we had our devo time and then a 10:00 PM concert that was electric! The crowd was hyped and we just had a blast. Anthony did great, too, for his first Acappella concert. We took our equipment down and moved it to the back of the stage (because we'll be back again) and went to bed.

Monday, June 16th
We left the hotel at 7:00 AM so we could get Zac back to Nashville for work before 2:00. We got fuel and breakfast and drove about 15 miles down the road to Bald Knob (yes, that is the name of the town) and the van broke down again. This time, it didn't start again. To make a long story short(er), we had the van towed back to Searcy to be repaired, the trailer was towed to an impound lot for safe keeping, we rented a van that was a little bit too small for us and our equipment and luggage, and drove back to Nashville. I managed to get only one speeding ticket, even though I was going the same speed as everybody else. Yeah, that happened. Anyway, we got back to Nashville around 5:30 (no, Zac didn't get to work) and had just enough time to get the van unloaded and take it to the rental place five minutes before it closed (now you understand that if I hadn't been speeding, I wouldn't have gotten the van to the rental place in time and would've been charged over $300 extra. I saved the company some major money!). It was nice, though, because Anthony took me to Stephanie's parents' house just in time for my birthday party! That's what you call a happy birthday!!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Monday, June 09, 2008

War With Myself

I’m at war with myself
The very thing I want to do
I keep trying to do
But I just can’t seem to do
The things I know You want me to
‘Cause I’m at war with myself

I’m going through a lot of things that make me stumble
Attacking me, beating me, breaking me, keeping me humble
The Word is good, but my sinful nature's taking over
I need a light, can someone help me to recover

All I need is You (all I need is You, all I want is You)
All I want is truth (I’m in search of truth, the truth that only comes from You)
Can I find the faith (can I find the faith to keep me on the straight)
I’m calling out Your name

The very thing I want to do
I keep trying to do
But I just can’t seem to do
The things I know You want me to
‘Cause I’m at war with myself
No matter what I try to do
I keep failing You
But I know that I should do
The things I know You want me to
‘Cause I’m at war with myself

I’m fighting in this battle like a wounded soldier
I don’t think I can bear this burden on my shoulder
The ride is rough, it’s going fast, it’s almost over
I need a hand to get me off this roller coaster

How can I get to You (how can I get to You, I need to get to You)
I still desire truth (I still desire truth, the truth that only comes from You)
I’m desperate for the faith (I’m desperate for the faith to keep me on the straight)
I’m screaming out Your name

When the righteous cry out (when the righteous cry out)
They’ll be set free (be set free)
From the pain in this life (this life)
That brought them to their knees

In the night, a light, the smoke is clearing
The sky is dark, and hot, but I’m not fearing
It’s raging on, but I know that I can win this battle
Eventually, the other side of me will crumble

All I need is You (all I need is You, how can I get to You)
All I want is truth (I still desire truth, the truth that only comes from You)
Can I find the faith (I'm desperate for the faith to keep me on the straight)
I’m crying out Your name

Repeat Chorus (x2)


Words and music: Keith Lancaster, Sean Samuel, Nicolas Dunbar and Matt Nunnally © 2003 Anthony K. Music (ASCAP)

Scriptural Reference:

"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." Romans 7:14-20

"For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2 Corinthians 13:4-5

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cardboard Testimony

My friend, Sam, sent this video to me and I found it to be powerful, uplifting, Spirit-led, and full of hope! As you watch this 8-minute clip, formulate your own cardboard testimony and share it with us. I'll even share mine. Just look at the comments.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Take 6 recorded a song many years ago, one of their biggest hits, in which the chorus says: "If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now." That line is on repeat in my head as I write this. Stop whatever it is you're doing and pray right now. A child has gone Home early. Her family needs your prayers for comfort, peace, wisdom, and understanding in this tragic time. Specifically, pray for her oldest brother, who accidentally was the reason for her meeting Jesus at such a young age. I can't imagine the thoughts, feelings, emotions coursing through him and his family. Pray as though your life depended upon it. It does, and the family's does, too. God wants to hear from you. There is no better time than right now.



MARIA SUE CHAPMAN, DAUGHTER OF STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN, DIES IN ACCIDENT AT FAMILY HOMENASHVILLE, TN...5/21/08... At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Thursday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family's six children and one of their three adopted daughters.More than five years ago, Chapman and his wife MaryBeth founded The Shaohannah's Hope Ministry after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. The ministry's goal is to help families reduce the financial barrier of adoption, and has provided grants to over 1700 families wishing to adopt orphans from around the world. Chapman is a five-time GRAMMY ® winner and 54-time Dove Award winning artist who has sold over 10 million albums and garnered 44 No. 1 singles.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Prayer Time

This prayer has been on my heart for quite some time now. It can be found in Matthew chapter 6. You Bible scholars already know which prayer I'm referring to. Well, this is how I interpret the prayer. This is how I try to pray on a daily basis. I don't always succeed, but it's a good start. I also posted a link for you to see this prayer through the eyes of a child. Truly precious! I hope this blesses you as much as it has blessed me to work on.


Our Father who art in heaven - Lord, Savior, King, Jehovah, Elohim, Abba, Daddy, God

Hallowed be Thy name - Your name is: Holy, Mighty, Wonderful, Worthy of all glory, honor and praise, Powerful, All-knowing, Compassionate, Righteous, Amazing, Counselor, Provider, Healer, Comforter, Love...

Thy kingdom come - Reign over me now, in this present time. Be in my life. Be real and relevant to me.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven - Let the things I do in this life be a rehearsal for eternal life with You. May all my thoughts, words, actions be worship to You.

Give us this day our daily bread - Give me what I need for today, for right now, no more, no less.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors - I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. Please forgive me. I understand and accept that nobody else is perfect. Help me forgive those who have wronged me in any way. You did it for me. I want to show the same grace to others that You showed to me.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil - When I am tempted, as Jesus was, help me to be sinless and blameless as Jesus was. I know I will have daily opportunities to do what is right and what isn't. Help me to always choose the right thing. Deliver me, Lord.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever - You made all of this. You own it all. It is Yours and I am Yours. All glory, honor, power, praise, blessings, worship goes to You, not just now, but always, beyond the end of time.

Amen - Let it be so.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What A Week!

God is doing some amazing things in my life, as well as Steph’s. She and I have built our relationship on Proverbs 4:23 (Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life), and our hearts have been tested quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. See, I went to Tulsa for the International Soul-Winning Workshop last week, which meant that we wouldn’t see each other for a week. We needed that. God worked on us individually and as a couple.

For example, JJ and I left Tuesday morning on the ten-hour drive to Tulsa. That morning before we left, she sent me a text message saying that we should take time over the week to have a mountain top experience, some quality time with God. She told me to look up Luke 6:12 (check it out). When we arrived in Tulsa she was at Bible study and would you believe that the speaker brought up the exact same scripture? I know, coincidence, right? Well, tell me it’s also a coincidence that the week before, the same speaker brought up the exact situations that she and I had been discussing the previous couple of days and told us we needed to take action on those very situations. That seems like no big deal until you put it into perspective. We were in a room with over 800 people!

So we start on this journey up the mountain and God’s talking to us non-stop. He’s talking to us through speakers, songs, scriptures, even friends. It’s an amazing experience. Saturday rolls around and JJ and I are planning on driving back the next morning...until the van broke down. Enter Sean Algaier. He comes to where we are, takes us to a safe place to have the van towed, loans us his car so we could get to our housing site to get our stuff, puts me up in his home one night, and gives me his Rapid Rewards free flight ticket on Southwest so I can get back to work! He reminded me what it meant to be a servant and to simply care. He reminds me so much of my brother, Ron, who passed away five years ago this past Friday. Yet another reminder that God is good. As an act of gratitude, Steph prayed that He would bless Sean and Misty like crazy. The very same day Sean got a phone call from a friend who had a 32" flat-screen tv with surround sound. He gave it to Sean and Misty for $50. Talk about prayers being answered right away!

There is so much to this story that I don’t have time to share. However, I will say this: God is moving in me. He’s showing me things that I already knew and forgot, as well as things I didn’t know but needed to. He’s trying to make this new man. He’s trying to make Steph this new woman. It’s time for all of us to break down our barriers and let Him make us what He wants us to be. Let’s make it happen!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, March 21, 2008

What's so Good about Friday?

Good Friday. What an ironic term. It's a term used to commemorate the day Jesus was brutally tortured and murdered by Roman soldiers. Now, some might say that brutal is a bit too harsh of a term to use when speaking of Jesus, but let's review what really happened.

Very late the night before He was crucified, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. The Bible says that "being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44) This means Jesus was under the most extreme amount of stress imaginable. He knew what was about to happen and didn't want to go through it, but He knew He had to. As He was going back to pray more, after waking up the sleeping disciples to tell them to pray, Jesus was arrested and wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. When a criminal was convicted of a crime punishable by death, that person would undergo some of the most horrendous treatment ever known to man. Roman soldiers knew how to kill a man and make it last for a very long time. It began with a scourging. A mob of men beat Him and pulled out His beard, which was an enormous insult in that culture, not to mention painful. Then they stripped Him naked, shackled His hands above His head, shackled His feet to the ground, and began to beat Him with a "cat-of-nine-tails," which is basically an ancient meat tenderizer. A handle with strips of leather that had metal balls and hooks made of metal or bone attached to the leather that would pulverize and rip His flesh from His body. This would send Him into shock. Many men died from the scourging and did not even make it to the cross. Such was not the case for Jesus.
The soldiers strapped a large log of Roman timber to Jesus' exposed back and expected Him to carry it up the hill to be crucified, but the weight and the splintering wood was just too much to bear. He collapsed under the strain, so one of His disciples helped to carry the cross to the place of His crucifixion. The soldiers placed a crown of thorns into Jesus' head which made Him bleed even more. They posted a placard above His head in mockery that said "King of the Jews," in Aramaic. He was already unrecognizable from the beatings and scourging. This just added more insult to more injury. They took long spikes and drove them into His hands (probably at the wrists) and feet. They fixed the log He had carried to a cross-bar, raised Him up, and dropped the whole cross, with Jesus nailed to it, into a hole in the ground. Surely, the impact jarred His body significantly.
As Jesus hung there, gasping for breath, bleeding, sweating, dying, one of the thieves who was crucified with Him mocked Him loudly. "But the other criminal rebuked him. `Don't you fear God,' he said, `since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then He said `Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, `I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" (Luke 23:40-43) Jesus remained pure, holy, faithful, loving, compassionate even up to the point of His death.
As He came to the end of His life, He felt for a brief moment what it was to live without God. The Father turned His back on His Son, allowing Him a glimpse of Hell. "Jesus cried out in a loud voice, `Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' --which means, `My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how He died, he said, `Surely this man was the Son of God!'"(Mark 15:34, 37-39)
The temple curtain being torn in two was so significant. It meant that there was no more waiting room to get to God. Before, only certain people (Levitical priests) were allowed to enter into the inmost part of the temple at certain appointed times to be in the presence of the glory of God and to offer sacrifices for atonement from sin. Now, we are all invited to approach His throne as often as we please. Jesus became our sacrifice when He was crucified and died. He became our Savior when He fulfilled the rest of His prophecy and rebuilt the temple three days later by rising from the dead. He is now our temple, the Savior of the world, our risen King!

So what's so good about Friday? Sunday! That's the day my King rose from the dead, defeated the grave, and brought hope and salvation to the world! Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and arose on the third day for the remission of our sins. That's the gospel truth! If you don't believe it, I'ma keep praying for you. Jesus wants you to seek Him so you can receive His grace and His salvation. He wants to take you to Heaven for all eternity. There is no better time than the present to let Him do that. Right now! Let Him be your Savior! If you need to talk about it, come find me. I'll be around. I know from experience that it's the greatest decision you could ever make, but the choice is solely yours. No one Else's. I'm begging you, if you haven't already made the choice to follow Christ, please consider what He went through for you and me. He loves you so much more than you know.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oh Canada!

Well, we finally had our first concert of the year...with our new Canada. It was a lot of fun but a really quick trip. We left Saturday morning and got back Sunday evening. Good times, though.

Our direct flight to Toronto was quite bearable. Although it was a small plane, we toughed it out for the two-hour flight. Going through customs was a new experience for me. Of course, I'd been through customs several times before, but this was the first time I had this particular conversation in customs.

Customs Agent (CA): "What's your business here in Canada?"
Me: "Performing a concert tonight."
CA: "What do you do?"
Me: "I sing."
CA: "Should I know you?"
Me: "Probably not."
CA: "I had this same conversation with someone else recently. I asked the guy, 'Michael Bubble...should I know you?' and he said 'It's Buble (pronounced boo - blay) and I'm with the blah blah record label.' I still had no clue that I was supposed to know who he was."
Me: "Hahahahahahahahahahahaha..."
CA: "Hahahahahahahahahahahaha... Have a good show!"

Pure magic.

Mike, our promoter, met us after customs and drove us about 45 minutes to eat at a Mongolian grill in Waterloo, appropriately named "JB's Mongolian Grill." The food was really very good. After lunch, we drove a couple more blocks and arrived at the University of Waterloo campus. Our venue was a fairly small, intimate theatre that seated roughly 700 people. As we pulled up to the stage door, we saw the "sold out" signs and knew it was going to be a good night.

We did our set up and sound check, ran through some songs with JJ, the new guy, and chilled in the green room until devo time. Just before we started devo, one of our good friends from Camp Casowasco in upstate New York, Donnie Schussler, surprised us in the green room. He ended up spending devo time with us and praying for us before we got dressed and ready to rock.

And rock we did! It was a really fun concert. One of the most fun concerts I've been a part of in a long time. The only concert I've been a part of in a long time. It had been three months minus one day since our last concert. It felt great to be on stage again.

JJ did a great job. He knew his stuff and sang his face off. Nobody really knew it was his first concert until we said something about the end of the concert! Good times.

After the concert was "meet 'n greet" which was an experience in itself. There were lots of people from foreign lands like Brazil and Africa. We even got to hear an African quartet sing a song for us. Beautiful!

We went to our housing site, the home of Dave and Patty Knutson (sp?) where we ate homemade chicken fetuccini alfredo and drank hot apple cider. Did I mention the temperature was below freezing the entire time we were there and snow and ice was all over the place? Yeah, that happened. So after we had eaten and warmed up a bit, it was time for bed. I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I slept great. We woke up Sunday morning to fresh biscuits and gravy, bacon, fruit, coffee, and juice. By the way, Patty is originally from Alabama. After breakfast, they took us to the Waterloo Church of Christ where we shared the Lord's Supper with that family and then headed back to Toronto to the airport...on icy roads most of the way.

Did you know there's a small patch of land in the Toronto airport that is "American soil?" We went through customs there, instead of Cincinatti where we changed flights, which was awesome because we only had an hour scheduled between flights and customs can take a while sometimes. It was very nice! We made it back to the great Nash Vegas safely. Now, we take the next step...whatever that is!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wise Words from Max Lucado

Today's daily devotional from Max Lucado stood out to me and I felt like I needed to share I am. These are powerful words, simple thoughts, and true, relevant principles for our lives. If you're experiencing any guilt or other pressure-filled feelings, this is for you. If it's not you, but someone you know, share these thoughts with them. Blessings.

A Robe of Righteousness

You were all clothed with Christ.
Galatians 3:27 (NCV)

We eat our share of forbidden fruit. We say what we shouldn't say. Go when we shouldn't go. Pluck fruit from trees we shouldn't touch.

And when we do, the door opens, and the shame tumbles in. And we hide. We sew fig leaves....We cover ourselves in good works and good deeds, but one gust of wind of truth, and we are naked again--stark naked in our own failure.

So what does God do? Exactly what he did for our parents in the garden. He sheds innocent blood. He offers the life of his Son. And from the scene of the sacrifice the Father takes a robe--the robe of righteousness. And does he throw it in our direction and tell us to shape up? No, he dresses us himself. He dresses us with himself. "You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ" (Gal. 3:26-27).

We hide. He seeks. We bring sin. He brings a sacrifice. We try fig leaves. He brings the robe of righteousness.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Happy New Year" - even if it’s a little late...

Happy - joyous, elated, encouraged, excited, positive, eager, hopeful, ready

New - never having exsisted before, original, first of it's kind

Year - 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 (or this year, 366) days, 525,600 minutes

May God reveal to you his definition of a happy new year.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate