Sunday, December 27, 2009

WHAT I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS

This has been one of the best Christmases I've ever had; not because of the presents I got or even because of the presents I gave. It was the best because I got to spend valuable time with my family, and there is only one greater gift that I know of - the gift of Jesus. Without that gift, there would be no point of Christmas. This song says it all:



I hope and pray your Christmas was even better than ours...which is very tough to pull off!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CONGRATS ALL AROUND!

Congratulations are in order for the newly-crowned champions of NBC's The Sing-Off, NOTA!

As I wrote in my last Sing-Off post, I was really captivated by their uniqueness and courage to stay deeply rooted in their own sound and traditions. These guys are very professional in their approach to music. They know when to scale back and be sensitive, but they also know when to let loose and get wild without losing control. I love the fact that out of the six singers, all six have weapons that contribute to the group's arsenal and can "smack you right in the mouf" at any given time!

I'm really proud of NOTA and I hope to get to know them and work with them if I ever get the opportunity!

In other news, today is my sweet mother-in-law's birthday. I won't give her age (for my own protection) but I'll say she doesn't look a day over the age she was yesterday!
Happy Birthday, Cathy! Congratulations for making it around the sun one more time! Love you lots!!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GOOD READING

As you may or may not know, I like to read different blogs, books, articles, and all kinds of other stuff. I want to share some of the things I'm reading in hopes that you might be encouraged by something on the list.

I recently finished reading More Than Enough by Dave Ramsey and it has totally changed my thought patterns about money management. Great book for those who are financially stable, financially destitute, and everyone in-between.

Before that, I read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, which is changing (for the much better) the way I try to give my love she desires and deserves. If you're married (husbands and wives both), this is a must-read-and-do!

I just came across this post from Compassion International's blog that I found to be very uplifting.

I'm nearing the end of Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. I read it about three years ago and found it to be some of the best artillery available in the battle for sexual purity. Now that I've been married for nearly a year, I felt it necessary to refresh my memory and take every measure possible to love my bride better. I highly recommend this book to every man who has ever in his life struggled with sexual sin. Of course, there are books in the "Every Man" series geared for all generations of men and women. Please, if you value your family and the future of God's people, read this book and put its principles into practice. When it's all said and done, you will be more than glad you did.

On hold, I have Lord, Save Us From Your Followers by Dan Merchant, which has also been made into a movie. I have read the first couple of chapters and plan on finishing it within the next couple of weeks. It's thought-provoking to say the least. So far, I'm really convicted to try to love people more like Jesus would instead of the way I would. I'm diggin' it!

I plan on sharing other good reads when I get the opportunity. Hope you will check out some or all of these suggestions.

Have you read anything good lately?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, December 21, 2009

THE JESUS - SANTA CONNECTION

'Tis the season to go crazy trying to remember what "the season" is all about. Maybe this will help.



So, who do you prefer - Santa or Savior?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, December 20, 2009

MY SISTER'S KEEPER

Steph, Gabby and I watched a fantastic movie today - "My Sister's Keeper".
What a tear-jerker! Of course, I wasn't crying, but the girls surely let the tears flow! If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend that you do.

The movie brought to mind several questions:

How would I react if my child had a terminal disease like leukemia?
Would I do everything in my power to keep my child alive, or would I let the Lord take my child without a fight?
Would I have a "test-tube baby" so I could have "spare parts" (bone marrow, rare blood-type, kidneys, etc.) for my sick child?
Would I allow my selfish nature to dictate the way I treat other people, especially my family?

Then I thought to myself, "Don't I act that way about my selfish desires anyway?" Thankfully, it's not about my sick child. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other things over which I act selfishly and really need to stop. There are plenty of other things over which I disregard the feelings of other people for my own gain. There are plenty of other things over which I lose my ever-lovin' mind!

These are the things for which I truly need God's grace. Fortunately, and undeservedly, He has already given that grace to me and to you; grace in the form of a man - Jesus. And I am forever grateful!

Have you noticed God speaking to you in unique ways (e.g. movies, friends, books, road signs, etc.)

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Saturday, December 19, 2009

REACTIONS SPEAK VOLUMES

What do you do when someone has done you so wrongly that you want to do them harm instead of showing grace? Steph, Gab and I are dealing with just such an issue, and we have been for several months now. In order to preserve my family's privacy, I won't go into detail about this issue. However, I will say that it gets more and more difficult to forgive the more we deal with it.

Jesus said to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45a - NIV) I'm finding that more and more difficult to do every time I'm wronged. Jesus answered that one, too:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

(Matt. 18:21-22 - NIV)

What an incredibly difficult concept to grasp when you're in the heat of the battle.

Maybe this video will help us understand the concept a little better:


How easy is it for you to forgive, and how often do you practice it?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'M KEEPING MY MAN-CARD


This one is for the men, namely husbands. I'm going to ask one question at the end of this post that is intended to make you guys take a good hard look at yourselves and get real.

Now, I'm going to share something that a lot of guys wouldn't dare exposing. But then again, I'm not a lot of guys. Anyway, I wanted to show Steph how much I love her, so I did something I thought I would never do. I mean, I thought I could possibly talk my way out of it, or avoid it for a long time, but it was inevitable.

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I sat through the entirety of "Dirty Dancing."

You can say what you want about me, but I just made my wife extremely happy and that matters more to me than your opinion of me!

And I still have my Man-Card!!

So, here's my big question to all of the men who actually took the time to sit through this post:

What have you done lately (or will you do...or should you do) for your wife that might otherwise get your Man-Card revoked?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

THEY GROW UP SO FAST!

Last night was a first for us. Steph and I (and Anthony) witnessed Gabby's very first orchestra concert! She did a great job, as did all of the students. For having played only 3 months, give or take, they are really coming along well. Even though you can't really see Gabby up close (she's on the front row with the blond hair that looks a little extra bright, like she's an angel...which she is!), I just had to share the clips from the concert. We are so proud of her, but she is growing up way too fast!

Mama and I love you very much, Sweet Pea!




Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE SING-OFF, 3rd ROCKIN'

Before I talk about tonight's show, I want to point you to my darling bride's blog. She has been writing a lot of great stuff lately and I'm proud of her. Go check it out!

Somebody turned up the thermostat, yet again, tonight on The Sing-Off! This time, it was all about classic, feel-good, blood-pumping, nostalgic, great music. Three of the groups sang twice, but only one, MAXX FACTOR, sang once. First, they sang medleys from some of the most famous musical acts in the world. Then, those who remained performed songs chosen by the judges. I'll touch on each group quickly and then share my favs.

THE BEELZEBUBS tackled the music of THE WHO and did it very well. I loved the diversity of their soft, somber intro to the powerful, fiery finish. The judges selected Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond for the 'BUBS to sing. What a great choice for them, and the roses they gave to Nicole Scherzinger added a sweet touch to a smooth performance.

MAXX FACTOR gave us a charming BEACH BOYS medley. It was ambitious and quite fitting for their voices and vocal style. I thought it was their best performance on the show. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep them there. I do like them (even if some of you don't...which is totally cool either way) and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

NOTA broke out with a medley from one of my favorite groups of all time, THE JACKSON 5. Unfortunately, I got home a few minutes late and missed their performance. I only caught the judges critique, which was nothing but praise, so I know they killed it. When they got their song that was selected by the judges, Sledge Hammer by Peter Gabriel, there were some guys in the group who didn't konw the tune. Although their performance communicated their slight discomfort, they were very professional and even more funky!

THE SOCALS rocked us with the music of JOURNEY. I can confidently say that that performance was their best and most entertaining of the competition, although their Kelly Clarkson tune from last night was pretty fantastic, too. Sadly enough, their rendition of THE BANGLES' Hazy Shade Of Winter fell a bit short in performance value, and caused their departure from the show. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

VOICES OF LEE presented a beautiful medley of the music of THE BEATLES. There were times when I felt like their arrangement sounded reminiscent of TAKE 6. Outstanding! Since their signature style is "inspiriational" music, the judges chose Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror for them to sing. Musically, they were spot-on. However, for those of us who know the original, we know that there is an intensity and drive to the song. Their arrangement, although very good and personalized, didn't lend itself to that same intensity and drive. Even so, they did a tremendous job!

So, which group or groups did I like best? I'm glad you asked. I loved the VOICES OF LEE for their soulful, warm, rich sound, but I had to vote for NOTA. The unique Latin vibe they bring to each tune, plus their sheer funkiness did it for me. They know very well how to groove and, well... you know I gotta have groove!

Which groups did you choose and why?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

THE SING-OFF, 2nd TIME AROUND

The competition in NBC's "The Sing-Off" heated up quite a bit tonight. Those of us who watched the show saw and heard dramatic improvement from all of the a cappella groups, undoubtedly making the judges' jobs much more difficult than last night.

Since I only got to review three groups last time, I'll review the other three groups of the six who competed tonight.

NOTA
This Puerto Rican sextet is so much fun to listen to. Their arrangement of Down by Jay Sean was peppered with some very tasty latin flavor, and their treatment of the BeeGee's Stayin' Alive was right on point. I truly didn't miss the band at all. It was rockin'!

NOTEWORTHY
These "nine white girls from Provo, Utah" put a lot of heart and soul into their performances of Coldplay's Viva la Vida and Wilson Phillips' Hold On. This group consists of, I'd say, about 8.5 sopranos, one alto, and two beatboxers who double as lead singers. Very unique configuration. They have a lot of energy and likability, but unfortunately they were eliminated tonight. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

VOICES OF LEE
These ten men and women from Lee University in Cleveland, TN were in great form tonight. The emotion they created in Alicia Keys' No One could be felt through the TV, and they were right at home with the gospel feel of Freedom 90 by George Michael. They were able to stick very closely to what they do best, and it really showed tonight!

Tomorrow night's performances feature songs from legendary musicians like The Jackson 5 and The Beatles. I am certainly looking forward to the next show.

Any of the groups catch your attention tonight?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, December 14, 2009

THE SING-OFF

Kudos to NBC for bringing to light the not-so-well-known world of a cappella music by producing The Sing-Off. Hosted by Nick Lachey, and with judges Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, and solo artist and bandleader Ben Folds, the show consists of eight a cappella groups from all over the country competing for the prize of $100,000 and a Sony recording contract. This show provides some good exposure for the genre that I have loved my entire life. It proves that it's not as easy as it sometimes sounds. It challenges the listeners' ears to break out of their comfort zones of pop music, or what we might hear on the radio (repetitive, droning songs that are auto-tuned all to pieces), and makes us listen in a whole different way.

Since I didn't get to see the first three groups tonight, I cannot give a complete review. Instead, I'll give my thoughts on a few of the groups I got to hear and leave the rest for you to make comments (If you comment on this post, just make sure to be kind, please. After all, they are people who have feelings just like us. Let's treat them like Jesus would).

THE BEELZEBUBS

For us Christians, they have a very unfortunate name. However, for the entire audience, they had probably the most charisma, energy, and stage presence of the night. This group of fourteen young men from Tufts University in Boston, MA carries on the tradition of their predecessors from the 1960's by performing the most current music in the most ancient form of music - singing. Just singing. Their rendition of The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour was very difficult, very courageous, and despite the "pitchy" moments, very fun to watch!

MAXX FACTOR

This group of "soccer moms" were the most unique ensemble of the contest. Regardless of anyone's opinion of "barber shop" music, this group was definitely talented and they earned their spot on the show. Their harmonies were spot-on and, although the lead voice did get covered up occaisionally, their version of Dancing Queen by ABBA was delivered with their own unique flair!

THE SOCALS

This group of USC alumni is the only mixed ensemble I got to see. They had a little minor trouble finding their pitch center, but their choreography and stage presence made up for that. Their arrangement of Queen's Somebody To Love showed their courage to do very difficult music with very difficult movement. Given their circumstances, I thought they did very well.

I hope to write more about this show tomorrow night after it airs. It's really neat to hear other groups from around the country do the same genre of music as I do. It's rare to see, but I love it!

Which groups did you like and what did you like about them? Remember, be nice!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, December 13, 2009

HE IS THE CHRIST, THE SAVIOR, THE MESSIAH



Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, December 11, 2009

THE GREAT BICENTENNIAL

Okay, so it's not really a bicentennial, but it is a milestone for me. 200 posts only took me about four years to do. Here's a huge "Thank You" to all of you who have visited my blog over the past four years (Actually, the four year anniversary is January 13, 2010. Stick around and I might do something fun for that... Who knows?).

My last couple of posts were "Top Ten" lists leading up to the end of the year and this post. If you got to read them, I hope you enjoyed them. If not, I still hope you enjoyed them! A few posts back I said I would post a list of my top ten posts based on your feedback. Since I got so much feedback (Thank you, Baby and Tim), I had to choose most of the following list myself. There were a lot that I really liked that didn't make it onto this list. However, I think this one is pretty solid. Therefore, I hereby present,

"Rob's Top Ten Blog Posts: The Completely Biased Version (CBV)"

10. Ten Guidelines
9. R.A.K.
8. Brilliant, Bloody Brilliant: A Magic Moment from Colorado
7. Pray On, Sister!
6. Joy, Pain, Fear, and Perseverance
5. Honoring The Fallen
4. 16-13
3. Me: New and Improved
2. I Love My Wife!
1. My King!

Thanks, again, for reading my blog. I hope you are encouraged in some way by it. That's its whole purpose - encouraging, uplifting, entertaining, and hopefully glorifying God.

Blessings to you and yours. Remember, life goes on with or without you or me. Make it the best life you can by the grace of God.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TOP TEN, part 2 (post #199)

We are down to the wire, folks! This is the last post before "The Big 2-0-0" and I am pumped! This is also your last chance to tell me if you have any favorite posts. So far, besides my lovely bride, Tim H. is the only person to give me any feedback. If you're going to comment, now's the time...after you read the rest of this post!

This one's a "two-fer" - two lists in one post. I started to just do one list, but I couldn't decide which one I wanted to do more, so I decided to do both. You're welcome.

If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know that I love a good quote. There have been many quotes that have given me great inspiration, made me laugh until I wanted to cry, made me question my life. Here is a list of ten of my favorites (of course, there are plenty more, but these are the ones I thought of right now):

10. "If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
9. "His unconditional love motivates her respect. Her unconditional respect motivates his love.'"
- Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect
8. "Men and women aren't equal, they are complementary."
- Dave Ramsey
7. "Temptation - it's everywhere. Everywhere!"
- Believe It by Tower Of Power
6. "I am so blessed to be counted worthy of this."
- Pastor Matt Chandler, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor
5. "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians; they are nothing like your Christ."
- Ghandi
4. "Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is."
- C. S. Lewis
3. "Git somewhere and saddown! Where yo' mama at anyway?!"
- Madea
2. "The most dangerous man in the world is the man with no hope."
- Dr. Brent McCall
1. "Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy."
- Bill Cosby


One of our family's favorite hobbies is watching movies (You should see our DVD collection!), so it's only natural that I list ten movies that have influenced me this year. Again, there were plenty more that I wanted to list, but there's only space for ten...this time. Here goes:

10. The Secret Life Of Bees
9. Austrailia
8. We Are Marshall
7. Seven Pounds
6. Madea Goes To Jail
5. Slumdog Millionaire
4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
3. Why Did I Get Married?
2. Michael Jackson's This Is It
1. Faith Like Potatoes








Seen any good movies or heard any good quotes lately?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

TOP TEN, part 1 (post #198)

In anticipation of my 200th blog post (Only two left; Have you voted on your favorite posts yet?), and the end of 2009, I thought it would be fitting to make some "Top Ten" lists of things that have inspired me or encouraged me or flat out made me happy this year.

Since I'm a musician, I'll start with one of my favorite categories: influential songs. These songs, (I think only one of them came out this year), had a big impact on me in one way or another. Let's do this!

10. Clean Slate - Tower of Power
9. Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson
8. Keep Marchin' - Raphael Saddiq
7. Money Don't Matter 2 Night - Prince
6. Yes, I Do - Me (I wrote it for our wedding)
5. My Girl - The Temptations
4. For Once In My Life - Harry Connick, Jr.
3. Worthy Is The Lamb - Darlene Zchesch
2. Blessed Be Your Name - Matt Redman/Tree 63
1. All I Need Is You - Hillsong United

Any influential songs in your life this year?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

HE LOST (and I called it!)


Ladies and Gentlemen, congratulations are in order for the new Biggest Loser, Danny Cahill from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I am truly amazed at Danny's progress. He went to the show in a last-stitched effort to lose weight and regain life.

His starting weight was 430 pounds. That's two of me plus 60 pounds!

His weight at the finale was 191 pounds.

Danny Cahill lost 239 pounds in seven months!

(By the way, Steph and I totally called it that he would win!)

As amazing as that is, hunger in America is running rampant. One in six Americans is struggling with hunger right now. America! The "land o' plenty" is not proving to be very plentiful to those in deep need. And we thought we had to go to third world countries to find that kind of poverty.

So, what are you going to do to help fix it?

My family and I have joined the Biggest Loser Pound For Pound Challenge. For every pound you pledge to lose through June 30, 2010, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14¢ to Feeding America® — enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank. How cool is that?! We have already made our pledges. Click here to make yours.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate (because dark chocolate is healthier!)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

KAIROS: OKC

Something new is happening in Oklahoma City. By the grace of God the Aca-fam has set out on a new adventure that is exciting, to say the least. We have planted a new church! When we lived in Nashville several of us went to a worship service on Tuesday nights called Kairos (in Greek: "a unique moment in time"). At Kairos we were led in worship by a great team including Michael Boggs (Tulsa native and member of FFH), Melissa Greene, Anthony Evans, and many more. Our hearts and minds were taught the word of God by Mike Glenn. It was a great time!

When we moved to OKC, we missed Kairos. We tried different churches, and we liked them, but we didn't quite feel at home with any of them. We felt at home at Kairos. Zac and Lacey George, along with Steph and I, had been talking about starting Kairos here once we got settled in, but couldn't find a good time to do it. Then it occurred to us: "Since we don't have a church home, and we often travel on weekends, why don't we just do it Sunday mornings when we're in town?!" We settled on the "scriptural" time of 10:00 AM and Kairos: OKC was born!

Since most of us have a Church of Christ background, and we are affiliated with Oklahoma Christian University, a school associated with Churches of Christ, we do our services with a slight Church of Christ feel. We break bread together every time we meet, we (usually) sing a cappella, we read scripture and hear the word of God, we encourage one another. We don't call ourselves "Kairos Church of Christ" or any other denominational name. We are simply Kairos: OKC, a church that loves God, loves people, loves Oklahoma City, and is eager to serve however we can.

We started with ten people. Maybe we'll grow, maybe we won't. Either way, the name of the Lord of lords and King of kings will be praised here! We would love to outgrow our little Community Center. If you're in OKC on a Sunday morning around 10:00 in the morning and need somewhere to worship, swing by OC. We'd love to worship with you!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate