||9/18/2008 - Daniel Doss on the song "Hold On"
God forgot to run His schedule by me for approval. Turns out He has His own timetable. I’m supposed to be a Dad right now according to my plans, but I’m not. My wife and I have been married over 8 years now. And for over half our marriage we have desired to have children. I did not realize the pain involved with infertility. I had seen people go through this, but did not understand the depth of their pain. My wife and I began walking that road together, and it’s been a tough one. We have both worked through bitterness and shame. I thought we deserved a child because we had done everything right. We both signed True Love Waits cards in high school and stayed true to our commitments. We had surrendered our lives to ministry and to follow God wherever he takes us. I have learned that God is not obligated to bless us. And that I tend to be concerned with one or two blessings I lack and forget the infinite blessings He has granted already. And mostly, I have learned that He does not abandon us in our pain and bitterness; even when it is towards Him. He continues to hold us and mold us. He is near us. His love is more faithful than the sun and rain. He is in control. We are at His mercy. And He is a loving father.
||9/30/2008 - Downhere - The Problem
by Marc Martel of Downhere
I always love a
good zinger. I heard about a great one that took place in the early 1900's
where "The Times", a British publication, invited several
authors to submit essays on the theme "What's Wrong With The World?"
One person who submitted was author and scholar, G. K. Chesterton. What I
wouldn't give to see the look on the editor's face when he read Chesterton's
brief "essay". Here's what he wrote:
G. K. Chesterton
ZING!!! I guess
that's technically a reverse zinger, but what a brilliant response! Profound.
Controversial. Biblical. Hilarious. All of that wrapped up in two words. I
wonder if at first the editor burst out laughing at the idea of an older
English gentleman, sitting in his study and smoking his briar pipe with a
maniacal look in his eyes, claiming sole responsibility for every problem in
the world. I wonder how long it took him to realize the genius of the reply. As
a magazine editor, I imagine he had some life experience under his belt, and
was probably all too well acquainted with the fallen condition of man.
Obviously the "Times" people saw the insight in Chesterton's
response because they printed it in the article.
I've come to a place in life where I don't think I
will ever be really shocked by how rotten and evil people can be to each other,
their environment, and to themselves. What limit is there to how low people can
stoop? I'm not so sure there is one. I've arrived at that conclusion not only
because I try to keep up on world news, but also because I know my own heart. I
have a pretty good idea of what I'm capable of, and honestly, it's not pretty.
If it weren't for Jesus giving me a better way to live, I'm sure I'd be
spending a lot more time exploring those other possibilities. I think that's
what Chesterton was saying when he said "I am what's wrong with the world
today." The wrong starts in the hearts of people like you and I, who were
born with and corrupt and evil, bent inside. A basic belief of the Christian
faith is that everyone is lumped into that category. There is no one
righteous... no, not one. Not Mother Teresa nor Pope Benedict. Everyone falls
short of the glory of God. What a different world this would be if everyone
believed that! I'm not even saying if everyone believed in Jesus. If everyone
believed that they are no better than the next person, and took responsibility
for their own sinfulness, without blaming others people, other races, other
countries, other belief systems, how much more like The Garden Of Eden would
this world be? Of course this is an utter pipe dream. Call me pessimistic, but
I don't hold out any hope of that happening before the Second Coming of Christ.
I believe the only solution is the love and humility of people who walk closely
with Jesus. People who understand how desperately they need a Savior to rescue
them from themselves, and the consequences of their own sin. People who love
God so much that they want to see his Kingdom manifested here on Earth by
demonstrating the same love they were saved by. People who influence their
far-from-perfect-world one person at a time, in big and small ways. People who
are convinced that the root of what's wrong with the world isn't bad
government, other religions, or even terrorism - but that the problem starts
To hear the song, “The Problem”, from Downhere visit:
||9/23/2008 - Downhere - Something Heavenly
by Marc Martel of Downhere
If I could pick my guardian angel's brain for a few
minutes, I think I'd ask he/she/it if the ability to experience the spiritual
side of life as plainly as the physical makes obeying God any easier. (Assuming
that's even a valid question... who knows if there are more dimensions than
physical and spiritual? Furthermore, what if God removed angels' right to
choose between good and evil after the fall of Lucifer? And why am I already on
such a tangent?) What if I could see every angle, every perspective in any
given problem, being aware of every contributing factor? Would that make me a
better person? Would I be more likely to follow through with what is right?
As a Canadian living in the USA, one of the contrasts
I've observed between these two subtly different cultures is that of the value
ascribed to education. I’m not just talking about “book smarts”, but overall
awareness of our surroundings as well. In general, Canadians love knowledge.
We have a first-rate educational system. Right or wrong, we often quietly boast
about knowing more about world news than most Americans know about their own
country - not to generalize and insinuate that Americans’ mental capacity is
any lower, of course. I think the reason for this is that Canada isn’t the
current focal point of the modern world. What goes on in the Great White North
is admittedly much less fascinating in comparison to the constant media circus
revolving around our neighbors to the South. Since there are less
reasons to focus on us, maybe that makes us Canadians more apt observers of the
world outside our borders... just maybe. So, being Canadian myself, I’ve grown
up with this idea that the more stuff you learn, and the more you are aware of
the world around you, the more useful to society you become. I still think
there’s some truth to that - but only some. A lot of crime is born out of
ignorance and misunderstanding. But the same could be said for knowledge. Look
no further than the likes of Hitler or Stalin to see really smart people doing
really disgusting things. I’m thankful for the thirst for knowledge that I grew
up with, but I also know that it’s only what I do with that knowledge that
matters in the end.
One thing I do know is that "Knowledge puffs up,
but love builds up" (2 Corinthians 8:1) was written for people just like
me. Every time my eyes even glance over that phrase I shake my head thinking,
"Marc, don't be that guy!" I instantly get this repulsive visual of
myself, and my prideful, enlarged head towering ridiculously over the people
around me, as I look down my nose at them. If what I know and learn doesn't
spur me on to love, what's it good for? I'm privileged to speak two languages
fluently, but the apostle Paul writes later on in the same letter that even if
I speak in the tongue of angels, I'm nothing more than a resounding gong or a
clanging cymbal (I'm glad he included the gong in there for clarification,
because a well-placed cymbal sounds pretty fantastic!). I'm sure it would be fair to expand and
assume that even if I, like an angel, could experience the supernatural as
easily as the natural, I'd be just as likely to fall tragically short of what
God desires for me. Lucifer removed any doubt of that!
What is it that makes me more like Christ? My vast
Canadian knowledge? Ha! My talent? My servant hood? Because of God's Word, I
have to believe that those good things I feel I deserve a big pat on the back
for will all fade to nothing in the end if love is absent in my doing them. Only
the one who is Love can give any value to my little efforts. The grace
that God extends me through the sacrifice of his son Jesus, because He loves
me, is the one thing bridging the gap between He and I. That gift from God
transforms me, allowing me to move from the fallen earthly being I was born as,
to becoming the heavenly one He always intended me to be. And if I'm going to
boast in any sort of knowledge, maybe I should keep it to that.
In closing, I would like to say that those shirts with
"CANADA: AMERICA'S HAT" printed on them should all be changed to
"CANADA: AMERICA'S HEAD." Peace!
To hear the song, “Something Heavenly”, from Downhere
||9/16/2008 - Downhere - My Last Amen
My Last Amen
by Marc Martel of
When I was young,
no other song could get me on my Christian high horse like "I Can't Get No
Satisfaction." "If Mick Jagger only knew Jesus!" I would think
to myself, knowing that if he did, he certainly wouldn't be singing a song like
that. But now, having lived a few more years, I've come around to realize that
I completely agree with the lead singer's astute observation. We really can't
get no satisfaction (all grammatical criticism aside). Not in this life anyway.
What Jagger missed, though, is that it's not necessarily a bad thing.
God's Word says
that He has put eternity in our hearts. That helps me understand why we came up
with religion as a method of searching out the less tangible side of existence.
It's a part of my very nature to want more than this life can offer. It's this
"eternity" in my heart that gives me a longing for what's beyond the
natural, beyond the temporal, past the time I occupy down here on Earth. I
believe it's the reason why so many poets and songwriters can't help but write
lyrics echoing the sentiment of that song by the Stones, or U2's "I Still
Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (correct me if I'm wrong, Bono). It's
the very reason why we are - if we're all very honest - unsatisfied.
For me, it's that
longing that keeps me writing songs. This may sound kind of mystical or
whatever, but I can't tell you how many times I have found myself jamming along
in my bedroom, and a magical musical moment will pass where I have to stop and
go, "Ok... what the heck was that I just played?!" And even if I play
or sing the exact same thing again, that feeling I had the first time isn't
there anymore - and somehow I know I won't get it back. Each time I start a new
song, subconsciously I'm hoping I'll capture that moment more purely than I did
with the last song (that's the plan anyway!). Ironically enough, I get
fulfillment out of that. Maybe those moments in my bedroom are little clues
that God leaves for me to show me there is something far better, and that one
day I'll have it. Like being unsatisfied gives me hope in looking forward to
the day when I will be satisfied.
The catch for all
of us is, if not in this life, then when? Our greatest hope as followers of
Jesus is that he has defeated the power of death that once kept us separate
from God because of sin. For believers in Christ, death is no longer the end,
but the beginning of true fulfillment. We are destined to be in the presence of
God eternally after this life is over. I've been a Christian since I was a kid,
but still when I see the word "death", I can sometimes imagine evil
red eyes staring back at me. Guess I still have a ways to go with that. Or
maybe I'm brainwashed by Hallowe'en decorations! Either way, death goes against
everything we desire. It's one of the few things that I think every culture
agrees on: death is wrong. So we come up with slogans like "Carpe
Diem" to help us to enjoy every second of this life because when you die,
you're done. But God's Word tells us that when Jesus died on the cross, all of
that changed. Somehow he changed it so completely that for those of us who put
our trust in Him, even the idea of death has been turned on its head...
changing it from the most dreadful thing, into this glorious point of rendezvous
with our Savior. I've always envied believers who have a real clear
understanding of that. I remember back in college, overhearing a few girls -
one whom I had an enormous crush on - who were deep in a discussion about
death. One girl was saying she didn't want to die before she got to experience
the joys of marriage and having her own children. The prettiest girl in the
group, my said crush, proceeded to emphatically disagree, saying she couldn't
wait for the Lord to take her because being with Him would be so much greater
than any earthly pleasure. Sure, it was Bible College and all, but I could tell
by the tone of her voice that she honestly meant it. She actually sounded
excited! How mature is that? How HOT is that! As a 31-year-old now, knowing that
my chances of expiring are still 100%, the idea still feels very foreign and
surreal. But even though it might cause a little rush of discomfort in my gut,
I know it's not scary. Do I look forward to it? Still working on that one. That
said, I can't imagine looking at death coming at me, slowly but surely down the
road, without knowing Jesus. How dreadfully terrifying that must be. I guess
that's why the subject is so seldom broached.
Today, I can hear
"I Can't Get No Satisfaction", not with condescending pity, but hope.
In my relationship with Christ, I try to view my life as a kind of prayer, with
death as the final punctuation... the Amen. If you're not a musician, I'm sure
there are other things that set off that sense of "eternity in your heart".
Like when you find yourself doing the things you love most. For me, it's mostly
in music, or sometimes in being with the people I love. An old hymn called
"The Lost Chord" is what inspired "My Last Amen", and I'll
leave you with the lyrics:
I know not what I
Or what I was
But I struck one
chord of music
Like the sound of a
It flooded the
Like the close of
an angel's psalm,
And it lay on my
Like the touch of
an infinite calm.
I have sought but I
seek it vainly,
That one lost chord
Which came through
the soul of the organ
And entered into
It may be that
Death's bright angel
Will speak in that
It may be that only
I shall hear that
To hear the song, “My Last Amen”, from Downhere visit:
||9/9/2008 - Downhere - Live For You
Live For You
by Jason Germain of
Mathew 4:1-4 NASB
1. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2. And after He had fasted forty days
and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3. And the tempter came and said to
Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE,
BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”
In a society of so many choices of entertainment, one
could literally live from one thrill to the next. The culture counts down to
the street date of releasing records and movies. Untold thousands line up days
ahead to purchase fancy late technologies. Countless hours are spent conquering
pixels on gaming consoles. Contact with our families is stifled by the
addiction to the world of social networking. It is in this time, and in this
culture that we find such a vacuum for meaning. Depression, suicide and
violence are escalating around us. Is it any surprise? We know and feel this
link down in our boots. I for one feel the shrinking effect these can have on
my heart. I feel it in the church pew, I see it in the pastor’s face, I see it
in the mirror. And I am convicted as I write. Jesus said “I came that you might
have life and have it abundantly”. How did we get lost in the marketing ploys
of the major motion picture industries? How did we loose our family time to
websites? Why? Not because any of the above are necessarily inherently evil but
because our hearts priorities are in the wrong places. We have become so busy
that we have lost the time for the Word of God in our families, in our hearts,
sadly in some of our churches. The evangelical culture becomes increasingly lax
towards outright evil as the culture swings away from the study of the Bible.
How does one live for God. Satan tempted Jesus with the very question of needs.
To which Jesus responded “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word
that proceeds out of the mouth of God“. Cast your vote on which master you will
serve with your time, with your talents, and with your treasure. As Luke 12:34
says: “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also”. Jesus invites
us to the most unbelievable ride imaginable. A life where every morning the God
of the universe whispers to us wonder and beauty and mystery and meaning. Don’t
miss the Christian life to empty diversions, make a decision to devote time
with God and His Word today.
To hear the song, “Live For You”, from Downhere visit:
||9/2/2008 - Downhere - Hope Is Rising
Hope Is Rising
by Jason Germain of
18. For I
consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19. For the anxious longing of the
creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20. For the
creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who
subjected it, in hope 21. that the creation itself also will be set free from
its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22.For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of
childbirth together until now. 23. And not only this, but also we ourselves,
having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
24.For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who
hopes for what he already sees? 25. But if we hope for what we do not
see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Hope Is Rising
all my earthly optimism,
all going to be alright,
good will win this fight.
between youth and disappointments,
became despair, the love became a lie,
I've reached the end of my line,
I'm too tired to keep on trying,
rising, it's a sunrise, for the end
rising, and it's breathing for me again,
beneath the roses I will lie,
memories of my days, gathered to the sky,
my work will find its worth,
And all my
strength returned, to the water and the earth,
I reach the end of my life,
my eyes dim out the last light.
greatest draw of my simple heart is toward beauty, in all its manifestations.
Somehow it seems as soon as I capture a glimpse beauty like a moment of truth
between friends, or enjoying a mountain panorama as I find myself writing now,
there is an accompanying sadness. I mourn because I know that I can't take it
with me. It is a longing in my soul that drives me into history books, into
songs, into the arts. I've been looking for an answer to a question, "What
lasts?" Do you remember the first time you encountered death? Shocking,
ugly, unfair and random; all that beauty is not. When I first encountered this
final separation as a child my heart began to develop hairline fractures.
Fissures weathered and crawled with relational disillusion in my teens. They
stretched into cracks sometime in my twenties when I realized that I was not
only experiencing pain, but was a source of pain in others lives. And now in my
thirties there are holes leaking all over, as I am witness to more decay and
separation in my life and the lives of my peers. It is tempting to blindly
cling to the religion of optimism as an attractive force in the universe. It's
a trendy religion that many seem to be buying. It's "the little engine
that could" repackaged for adults. Does the so-called 'law of attraction'
account for that final and undisputed fact of death? For me it's an exercise of
disappointment brought to the enth degree. Because there will be a mountain too
high, a tragedy so shattering, a wound so deep that no multiples of "I
think I can" incantations will be enough to power through.
of Jesus is the work of art so full and perfect that defends every angle. He
painted his love in shades of pain, shame and death so that we would know where
to look for hope in a world filled with empty promises. He died that we might
live! In this way He has become the attractor, we the attracted. Not only has
He given me hope for a life beyond the grave. He has given me a way to live.
Grace. The most beautiful piece of poetry as ever was inspired. Where violent
escalation has no hold, where addiction has chains without locks, where evil
and decay are slave to the purposes of beauty. God is true Beauty. And in our
created nature our greatest fulfillment in life is to enjoy Him……a way to live,
the religion of Hope. Hope is not a dream it's a miracle, not a destination
it's a journey, not a birthday but a resurrection, not an end…it's a beginning.
Where is your hope? Does your hope give you the answers your soul demands in
search for the truth? Does your hope stand up under all the decay you see
the one who finitely returns all that has been stolen, all that has been
destroyed, all random and chaotic catastrophes. Jesus. Come with your broken
heart, and body. He'll breath life into your soul. Come with your angst and
failure, He'll give you purpose and a song. Hope is Rising again.
To hear the song, “Hope Is
Rising”, from Downhere visit:
||8/26/2008 - Downhere - Here I Am
Here I Am
by Jason Germain of
Isaiah 6:8 NASB Then I heard the voice of the Lord,
saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said “Here am I.
The broken parts you redeem, become the song that I
For me the biggest obstacle in being available to be
used by God is my own suspicions and doubts about who I am. Often I feel like I
need to reach the next platue in my study or in my relationships or in my
career in order to be used by God. Most of us deal with some level of doubt in
regard to our abilities. For many of us it is a strong negative force and can
be at times debilitating. It is pride in its truest form. To me one of the
beautiful things about the Gospel of Christ is that we come with nothing to
offer, we come as beggars. It may sound like some sort of twisted glory in
shame, but all that can be restored in our lives is from a power not of our
own. God restores our dignity in that our broken story becomes our ministry! He
uses the terrible and misplaced and severed places in our lives to showcase the
attributes of His personality and power. I take a lesson from Moses pride, when
God asked him to speak for the Israelites he doubted God’s choice. He believed
that his effectiveness in his calling was directly proportional to his skills
and qualification. But God has never asked anything more of anybody than to
have faith, to walk through the doors that are open. In a word, to trust. To
trust that He’s got it under control. The leadership we have to offer the world
cannot be attained by climbing some sort of ladder. No amount of seminars, or
expensive clothing, education or success without can change the world for the
ultimate good. But God What an amazing God we serve who would reverse the most
shameful and tragic things in our lives for the purpose of joy. The kind of joy
that only comes in following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I want the kind
of faith which calls out thru the darkness of our times, “Here is my misplaced
intentions, Here’s my life, Here’s my story, Here I am send me!”
What is one area in your life you feel that God may be
calling you to exercise faith even though you doubt your strength?
To hear the song, “Here I Am”, from Downhere visit:
||8/19/2008 - Downhere - Cathedral Made of People
Cathedral Made Of
by Marc Martel of
I heard an
interesting observation once about the difference in how men and women answer
the request, "Tell me about yourself." Guys tend to immediately start
jabbering about what they do - their talents and accomplishments, their job,
how they spend their leisure time, etc. Girls, on the other hand, generally
take the approach of focusing on who they are in relation to what kind of
family they grew up in, brothers and sisters, how they relate to their friends,
whether they are extroverted or introverted. In all reality girls answer that
question a lot better.
There are few
things more important in life than knowing who you are. It's the foundation
that gives you the tools and rules that guide you through the choices you make
every day. In short, your identity gives you the blue print for how you behave
and react. Years ago I heard a preacher give a series of sermons called
"When The Heat's On." I was pretty young, but for some reason it
stuck with me. His gist was that it's when life gets tough that who you are
shines through. It's how you react in those times that really matters. The
better you know yourself when the storms hit, the more likely you are to hold
to the things you say you believe when things are going smoothly.
Now the good news
for those of us who follow Jesus is that we are given some really deep insight
into who we are, because He has already told us a lot about it. The first clue
the Bible gives us about our identity, as humans are Genesis 1:27, where God
decided to make us in His image. That includes everyone... Christians.
Atheists. Muslims. Satanists alike. I don't know about you, but every time I
ponder that I feel like I must transform my brain into one of those
contortionists who can twist and bend in very unnatural ways to fit into a
2-by-2 Plexiglas® box. Only problem is my brain never quite fits into that box.
There's always a leg or a head left sticking out. But since God is good, I know
that being made in his image must be something very wonderful.
Because we're all
created, relational beings, our identity doesn't occur on it's own, in a
vacuum. Even the most severe introvert seeks out their identity from outward
sources... and I should know! I believe whole-heartedly that the only way for
us to know who we are is to be in relationship with the One who made us.
Inversely, without God, one can't really know who he or she is. So what do we
do when we are not in relationship with God? (Yes "we" - even born
again believers are guilty of it) We go out and find our identity in other
people. For instance, a guy will put all his energy into a relationship with
the first girl he can find to define himself, and vice versa. It's even worse
when a girl looks for her identity in a boy, because the consequences of that
are just destructive. He will destroy her, whether he means to or not. Only
Jesus can tell you who you are. By taking time to get to know him better, we
end up discovering our own identity because we are allowing him to shed light
on on that through his word and listening for his voice in prayer. Suddenly
it's not just "Who am I?" but "Lord, You know who I am. Please
It's out of the
love we receive from that relationship with God that we can truly love others.
I think a good description of the Church is "People who love God, loving
each other." God has also given us an identity as his followers. I like to
think that if most of us were pressed on the question "What is the Church
with a capital C?" that a good majority of us would answer something
resembling, "The Church is the people who have found their life in
Christ," not, "the place where we go on Sunday." To describe his
Church, Jesus used the most intimate relational language known to man by referring
to her as his bride. And yes, the Church is a building of sorts, but only
because God calls us his Temple, the very place where He resides (1 Corinthians
3:16). We belong to a family that will last forever, whom not even the Gates of
Hell can overcome. Jesus first said those words (loosely paraphrased) to his
friend Peter in Matthew 16:18. Imagine Jesus himself standing in front of you
in the flesh, telling you what destiny and purpose the rest of your life will
entail! Not only that, but he also gave Peter his new name, changed from Simon,
in the same breath. Talk about knowing your identity! In a sense, that's
exactly what he's said to all of us. If I follow Jesus, he calls me his friend
(John 15:15). That means I don't have to stand alone when life gets tough,
whether it's brought on by circumstances outside my control, or by my own
disobedience. When I'm in relationship with the Son of God, I'm not facing life
alone anymore. And when I reach my wits' end, where accomplishments and talent
don't mean jack squat, or when I'm - dare I say - persecuted for my love for
him, I can know that this life is only temporary, and that I belong to
something eternal. That perspective gives me a lot of hope.
One of my heroes,
Keith Green once said, "You know, I look around at the world and I see all
the beauty that God made. I see the forest and the trees and all the things.
And it says in the Bible that He made them in six days [...] Jesus Christ has
been preparing a home for me and for some of you, for two thousand years. And
if the world took six days and that home two thousand years, hey man, this is
like living in a garbage can compared to what's going on up there!"
With that hope in mind, let me tell you a bit about
myself. I'm much more than a musician who enjoys photography on his spare time,
and occasionally enjoys a good poutine. I'm a child of God, blameless
and pure, whom He has brought into relationship with Himself and his family of
believers. Way ta go girls.
To hear the song, “Cathedral Made Of People”, from
||8/12/2008 - Downhere - All At War
All At War
by Jason Germain of
I’m learning to stand the more that I fall down,
It’s the law of inversion, and it’s all turned around,
And I’m staggered by the clash inside my soul,
So purposed for good but inclined for evil
It’s justice and mercy the old dichotomies,
All along the frontlines of my heart in both doubt and
The sinner and saint, the old arch enemies,
All at war, in me
I was born depraved, but created for the divine,
With death in my bones, in my heart eternal life,
I’d love for eden, but I’d kill for Rome,
I’m native in a land that is not my home
You are the beginning, and you are the end,
Into your great reversal, I am born again,
A beautiful redemption, you leverage even sin
In me your final victory, I know you’ll win
Into light, from the shadows,
Into life, from the grave,
Into love, Into love
“I’d love for Eden, but I’d kill for Rome”
To me Eden in some ways represents the memory of the
way things are supposed to be. Walking with God, in beautiful nature, with
perfect marriages, community living in peace. Comfort. Security. Meaning. Love
Intimacy. I would love to live in that type of social environment. I’d like to
think I could have Eden like moments in my life, and so do all of us. We look
to hope in policy and religion and social reform to bring us closer to Eden.
But in the pursuit we repeat the same strange divisive cycle, over and over and
over. The element of sin refreshed in each rotation.
If their wherever a Camelot or Utopia in the real
world, Rome may have aspired highest, but in this pursuit stooped shockingly
low. There are literally hundreds of theories about why Rome fell from social
power, even if it fell at all. I believe that any system of policy, any
religion, any communal ideal is always marked by the human element of sin.
Church splits, fallen leaders, wars, divorces, racism, all caused by this
condition in the human heart. We claim “Mine!“ over our hunger for the ideal,
all the while destroying it with our incandescent blind spot of self. That is
the condition of the unfinished heart. Well intentioned, but lacking the
perfect righteousness to carry out it‘s own will. I believe this is what Paul
talked about when he spoke of doing the things that he didn’t want to do. Maybe
he too saw the inconsistency relationally around him. I think I’m at that same
place. Why am I say hurtful things to people? Why do I gossip? I hate that the
diagnoses is easy, and the cure so far off, like a tail chase. It seems only
manageable. It’s the cancer that will only be cured in the final way when we
are completed in Love. With Christ as the connected head and we the body in
full knowledge of our mutual created purposes.
So in essence the line “I’d love for Eden, but I’d
kill for Rome” is a confession that I don’t have the tools internally to create
a lasting peace socially in my life. In the context of the song, its just one
of a long list of confessions about how far I fall short of the Glory of God.
Owning my part in relational problems is the only starting place for
forgiveness and redemption in my community. So that I look to Jesus who shows
me how to love selflessly, who shows me the greatest is the servant. .
Is there someone you are at odds with and you haven’t
owned your own falleness in the situation?
Take a moment to ask God to reveal any blind spots you
may have relationally, ask him for help.
To hear the song, “All At War”, from Downhere visit:
||1/23/2008 - Mark White shares his experience winning the Search for the Ultimate Church Band
We just got back from Atlanta, GA where had the opportunity to play at Mark Hall's church for his youth ministry. This trip was wonderful and full of good times. We left from the Detroit area on Tuesday Jan. 15th in the middle of a snow storm, but what got us through was knowing that Atlanta would bring much warmer temperatures, or so we thought. We enjoyed a great night on the town Tuesday, and Wednesday we hung out with Mark Hall all day and got set up to play for his group. Mark Hall is one of the most genuine guys we've ever met. His passion for Christ and people is so evident and it's obvious that he really cares about you.
As the time for the event to start rolled around it began to snow in McDonough! It was the first time in 6 years! What we came to find out is that people in Georgia do not know how to react to snow - it's a stranger to them. What seemed like a few flurries to us (from MI) was a full-out storm to them. Needless to say, it made much of the youth stay home that night. However, we still had a great crowd, and we had an amazing time of worship. Our prayer was simply that God would be lifted high and that the songs He's laid on our hearts would be used to glorify and celebrate Him. We received a lot of encouragement that night from everyone, and we are really thankful to God for making it a special night of worshipping Him.
After that we went out to dinner with Mark Hall, Juan (guitar player for Crowns), and Kristin (our new friend from Provident!), to an amazing Japanese grill and we went back and stay with the Hall's. All I can say about Mark Hall's house is - that it is one of the coolest houses I have ever been in! The Halls were so hospitable to us and it was great time.
The trip was really great and it was such a blessing to have won this great honor. We hope that God continues to open doors for us - that we may continue to point people to His greatness and be lights for Him. We want to sincerely thank HearItFirst, Provident, and Casting Crowns for everything.
Hope to see you all soon.
For His Renown,
Mark White Band
||11/14/2007 - Catering
Hey everybody. We love eating food after shows, as you can tell by Justins face. Tonight we had Chillis and it was amazing. Just thought you might want to know what we do after shows.
||11/13/2007 - Sanctus Real. They are legit.
These boys know how to put on a show. If you have not seen these guys play you need to. They put on a great show every night. Also they have a new record coming out in February, so go get it.
||11/12/2007 - Phil and me rockin it at the mall
Hey everybody, we just got done at the mall, and we felt like posing outside of it. There was a pretty sweet fountain as you can see so we had to show it some love. Talk to you guys later.
||11/12/2007 - Hangin at the Mall w/my pal Mikey..
Hey guys, how's it going. We're in Lancaster PA, and we had a day off today. Were here just chillin at the mall, and hopefully we can find some tasty food morsels and cool stuff. Talk to you guys again soon.
||11/4/2007 - Popcorn
Hey everybody Will here. Just got done with a show at the Toyota Center in Kennewick Wa, and we're having a little late night popcorn snack on the bus as we roll towards Missoula, Montana. No better way to chill on the bus with my buds after a great concert than to enjoy a little tasty popcorn treat ... Well, talk to all of you again soon.
||11/3/2007 - The Toyota Center
Hey everybody Will here. Today were in Kennewick WA at theToyota Center. Hopefully it will be a good show, it looks like a pretty cool place. I will be back with a picture of the inside. Talk to you guys soon!
||11/2/2007 - The Bunk
Hey everybody Will here. Just thought u might want to see what we sleep in every night. These bunks are actually very comfy, but they're nothing like my bed at home. Talk to all of you soon again!
||11/2/2007 - The Tacoma Dome
Hey guys, how's it going. Were in Tacoma tonight playing at the Franklin Graham Festival. It should be a lot of fun. Talk to you guys soon again.
||11/2/2007 - The Bus
Hey everybody, hope you all are doing good. I thought I would take a picture of inside the bus in case anybody wondered what exactly is in there. As you can see it is pretty awesome, and it is a blessing to be able to travel in a bus every night.
||10/30/2007 - Rockin' in the Redwoods
We're here in Chico CA, and found this amazing Redwood tree right behind the venue where we're playing. Just wanted to share THIS MOMENT with you...talk to ya later.
||10/29/2007 - California Cookin'
Here in catering in Roseville CA. enjoying some tasty grub with the "bass master" (the instrument, not the fish) Adam Nitti is a freak, and the food rocks. Thanks to all of u who are coming to see us on the tour wfc.
||10/26/2007 - Phoenix..let's rock!
Me and my bub here, standing on the "turntable stage" at the legendary Celebrity theatre! (it rotates 360 ° while we play...audience all around) We're starting a run on the West Coast...9 shows in 10 days! My dad's new album is finally out...yee haw! Maybe we'll see ya out here on the West Coast...I'll be looking for you.
||10/19/2007 - Maria............GO TO SLEEP.
Well it is 11:30 pm and we just got done playing in North Carolina. Maria has still not gone to sleep. Fortunately I'm a master with kids, and I had a talk with her, and now.... she is gonna go right to sleep.
||10/6/2007 - The mailbox at Anderson University
These are the mailboxes at Anderson University. This is how my parents fell in love! They shared a mailbox! Oh....how sweet!
||9/6/2007 - yea caleb
This is caleb working on his bank statements. Way to go caleb, so proud of u.
||9/6/2007 - Photo Booth is Awesome
Wow this is cool. Me likey. I was just having some fun. Go Big or Go Home.
||9/6/2007 - School is Awesome
School is a little different for me this year. Since I'm going to be on the road all year, I have a tutor that i go to for 3 hours, and i go about three times a week. So it's pretty stinkin awesome.
||9/6/2007 - Im Tired
Hey dudes, just got done running. Since I'm homeschooling this year my mom is making me stay in some what of shape, so i have to run. It's not very fun. Thanks Mom, I love you
||10/3/2007 - Delirious?’s Asian Summer 2007
It was the summer of 2007 and again we [Delirious? members] found ourselves at the airport. We had been asked to play at several events throughout Asia so we thought we'd combine work with our summer holiday, a great idea until we realized the monumental task of taking 5 wives, 16 children, 6 crew members and more suitcases than I've ever seen in one place. In fact, as usual, our family were guilty of the most and with 8 suitcases, a car seat, stroller, Eszter our au-peur, 5 children and another one growing in Annas belly, we set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Just briefly I'm going to backtrack eight months to January. When we last toured India we visited this amazing project in one of the red light districts in Mumbai. To cut a long story short I met an Indian child there who I fell in love with and wanted to bring home. Was I going mad? (Anna thought so!) But I returned from that trip in turmoil over how we could rescue this girl from a life of poverty and prostitution. I remember clearly the first adoption agency forms sitting on the kitchen table and wondering where this journey was going to take us. Anna, the amazing woman that she is felt the right thing was for us to visit her together with the kids and we planned that it for August at the front of our Asia tour. However in the meantime there was a huge turn around with this girl’s mother who decided to exit the trade and keep her. It was the right outcome and I was sad and happy.
So August was here and we were off to India. To have Anna and the children with me was extra ordinary and seeing my own kids on their hands and knees feeding other orphaned kids their daily meal was a beautiful thing. Obviously the highlight was our visit to see our 'little girl' and meeting her mother and family too. Who knows why this has happened to us but I know now that she will be educated and given a chance to escape the trap that is crippling millions of innocent lives.
Hyderabad airport will always be remembered for a stressful Smith family moment! I had put 8 passports and boarding cards in the
hood of our stroller, which decided to tip over at the wrong moment throwing all the contents across the airport floor amidst a sea of people. I tried at that moment to be a good Christian but failed miserably. Anna is writing a book at the moment called 'Being Mrs. Smith', which will probably be an expose of my humanity!
So off to Singapore, the land of Gucci and huge churches. We were there to play at the Festival of Praise with 12,000 every night in the arena. A massive contrast from where we had come from but still part of Gods bigger picture and we were glad to see our friends from City harvest Church. I especially appreciated seeing the senior pastor Kong Hee and connecting with our Singaporean family.
With our fill of sushi we packed the cases and headed off to the airport again. This was our first time to Cambodia. We were part of a Joyce Meyer mission to Phnom Penh but this time things weren't going too smoothly. The government was very touchy about us being there and was repeatedly shutting down the events at the last minute. One night we were playing when the police pulled the power. I didn't feel we were finished so I got on the front row of the crowd with my acoustic and we sang for 40 minutes in complete darkness. I'll remember that beautiful sound of the Cambodian people forever. No one would leave and so Joyce Meyer preached on the steps outside with our infamous red megaphone, you had to be there to believe it! Again, poverty everywhere, heightened by visiting a rubbish dump where kids were eeking out a living, trying to earn 50 cents a day. There is always joy to be found in the midst of human suffering, which is a constant surprise. You can find God anywhere if you look hard enough and there he was on the faces of these children. We left Cambodia with a degree of frustration but we know we'll go back someday to carry on the job we started.
Onwards to Bali and a fly date to Indonesia which was fantastic. To hear the people singing our songs in their native tongue was spine chilling. By now we were happy but exhausted and after 30 days we returned home. A summer to remember, a summer that changed us forever. The kids are now back to school and life is back to normal, but in many ways we will never return to being 'normal,' we have seen things that have stirred us to action and I can feel the heartbeat of the house is different, something has got inside our children that I hope will shape their future and DNA forever.
||10/2/2007 - Phil Wickham on "Must I Wait"
About the song "Must I Wait"
While I was on the MercyMe tour this last fall I would love going out on the stage before anyone else was on it, turn up my amp as loud as I could, and play my guitar in the massive arenas. I’m really not much of a player, but there was just something so satisfying about hearing the sounds bounce all over these giant rooms. As I was tinkering around on the guitar one day I came across this little four chord progression that I loved right away, and that progression later turned into “Must I Wait.” Lyrically, this song was born out of a time of re-finding my relationship with the Lord. It’s sad how easy it is for me to get so tied up with “Ministry” that my actual relationship with God suffers because of it. This song comes from the day when I realized what was happening, and did something about. There’s a sense of urgent longing in these notes, and that’s exactly what I was feeling. Knowing that I didn’t want to go another day without allowing Jesus to be what he is supposed to be in my life. “My heart is bursting and breaking apart for my Love.”
||9/20/2007 - Vicky Beeching writes about her song "Twenty Six Summers"
Twenty Six Summers - HIF Song Blog
Communication is such an interesting thing. In our modern day culture we have more communication than ever before – cell phones permanently glued to our ear, texting, emailing, jumping onto Myspace and Facebook ten times a day. But for all our communicating, what are we really saying? Are we just filling space and screens with words, or are we truly sharing our hearts and letting our souls speak? You can say a lot, and yet really be saying very little. Are we hiding behind all our communication devices or are we really engaging in meaningful exchanges, really letting the deepest places of our hearts speak out?
Twenty Six Summers is that – my story so far in a song. Honest and open communication about my walk with Jesus. Some of my life has felt amazing, other times have been really painful: “I’ve laughed in the springtime, I’ve cried in the rain”. Sometimes you can listen to records and wonder if the person behind them ever struggles. People stand on stages and seem to live a confident, perfect, holy and happy life. We all know that’s not reality – everyone on and off stage is just a fragile human. So I hope all of us who stand on stages can just be honest about the pains, struggles and heartbreaks of life.
But I can really say that through it all, over 26 years, the many tears have watered the ground of my relationship with God and given it life. The unanswered questions have tightened my grip on his hand. The struggles and pressures of Oxford showed me I could never make it without His help: “though i’ve questioned the meaning of some of life’s seasons, it’s true that they’ve left me holding on tighter to You”. That’s what I’ve found. I hope you are finding the same.
Sometimes the most powerful phone call or text message from a friend is when they say “wow, me too”; that they have felt the same joy, or shared the same fears. We are all walking this journey of life in the same generation, underneath the same sky. So let’s open up, let’s share our hearts and our stories of life. Lets help each other know we are not alone. Twenty Six Summers is my testimony, my heart sharing its story. If you have had painful times, or wondered where the road ahead is leading, if you’ve ever just had to “keep holding on” and trust, I hope this song is an encouragement to you. And I believe you will find the same result – through all the different seasons, you will find they bind you to God in a way nothing else could. Now that I’ve shared my testimony with you in this song, why don’t you share your ‘God-story with someone today? You never know, it could be just what they need to hear.
||8/21/2007 - Disciple: “After the World” Story Behind the Song
-Kevin Young, Disciple
For our self-titled cd, we were writing about a lot of personal stuff -- a lot of stuff that was in my heart that I needed to get out. When it came time to write for Scars Remain we had everything off our chests and really didn’t have anything to say or anything to write about, and we were all talking asking, what could we possibly write about? There was one specific time, I think it was on the back of the bus, that we were praying and said “God we don’t have anything to say. If there’s something you want us to say then give us the words. What do you want to say to this generation?” It feels like just days after that prayer the words just started to happen for “After the World.”
“After the World” is a song from God’s perspective about how he feels about us. We’d never written a song like that before. It was something that was really different and new for us because we’ve always been able to share our faith from our perspective but this was something totally different for us, sharing God’s perspective on how he feels about us. When the song was done we would listen to it, and there aren’t many songs that we’ve written that would do this, but we’d listen to it and get chill bumps. Not that it sounded like God, but those were genuine words from God -- something He would say, and we knew that this was going to be a special song.
||7/31/2007 - exclusive blog from Mandisa!
It’s finally here!!! There were times I never thought this day would come, but here it is…July 31st…the release of my CD, “True Beauty”!!!
Can I tell you how sweet God has been to me? I could go on and on but I am on my way to the airport so will just tell you that He has had His hand on this entire process. From the writing and the finding of songs to the amazing team He has blessed me with, I can see His fingerprints. I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He orchestrated absolutely everything…and I am so thankful.
Can I be honest with you for a minute? As a recording artist, and as an “American Idol”, I am tempted to feel a certain expectation upon me. It seems that the entire world wants to compare us to each other rather than judge the work individually. In my opinion it is very difficult to compare artists from completely different styles of music.
“Will he outsell this “Idol”?”
“Will she do as well as the winner?”
“The winner from this season sold more than the winner from that season.”
It’s enough to drive a girl batty! There was a point when I was tempted to give in to all of the expectations, but then I remembered an important lesson I learned after “American Idol”. I wrote about it in my book Idoleyes-My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame. It was after the tour ended and I was just coming out of a very deep depression. I had strayed away from the Lord and everyone who loved me, but I had more “things” than I’d ever had before: A new house, car, record deal, modeling deal, book deal… But because I was distant from God, even with all of the “stuff”, I felt empty. I realized then that when I got to the end of my life, I would not be bragging about the money I had or the number of albums I sold. When I am on my death bed (hopefully as a very old woman) I’ll want to be surrounded by friends and family reminiscing over fond memories. Most importantly, I will want to be able to look squarely into the face of Jesus and be able to say “By Your grace I lived my life in light of eternity. Now I’m ready to come home.”
What matters most is not the tangible things I can see. After all, “it’s only the world” (hehehe)! So as 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, I will fix my eyes not on what is seen (albums sales and chart positions), but on what is unseen…Jesus. Sure I want to be validated as an artist, but even if accolades never come, I know that God is pleased and when I see Him face to face, I long to hear “Well done good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”
||7/18/2007 - Update from Rebecca St. James
Rebecca St. James
G'day y'all! (I've joked in my show about combining my two cultures of Australia and the Southern U.S. and saying this when I greet people... so here it is! ;)
Greetings from 30,000 feet in the air...somewhere between Dallas and Nashville! I am just returning from a week away, first in Alaska, hot South Dakota and then remarkably green Texas..
I told someone after singing this week on Focus on the Family's Alaskan cruise that I wouldn't mind 'suffering for the ministry' like that more often! ;) Though we had shows each day, it was definitely far from hard work and we were spoilt for sure. If you haven't been on a Christian cruise before I encourage you to think about it for a vacation in the future..its both relaxing and encouraging spiritually. On the last night Dr Dobson talked about getting 'phone calls' from God and how we have the choice as to whether of not we will answer and listen. Once again I feel that this year God has been re-teaching me to trust Him and continue to hope even when things turn out differently than I would have liked them to. Surrendering control is a difficult thing isn't it?
Just this morning I had the opportunity to hang with some of my 'adopted' family - Jon, Sherry and Lexi Rivers of the KLOVE Morning Show! I have known Jon and Sherry for over ten years now and they literally are like family to me. I stayed at their ranch last night and told Sherry that as I was driving in, it felt like I was arriving at a bed and breakfast...its so cozy, warm and inviting there! I got to hang with my good friend Todd Agnew this morning too and sang our duet live on the air. I tell you, its a challenge singing in the morning...but we survived! Lots of laughs were the order of the day and a good time was had by all!
More developments in the acting arena this month...please pray that God will continue to guide and open doors if this is a ministry path He is leading me to pursue. The medium of film is a very powerful one and I am passionate about seeing more family oriented and God-honoring films made. In bygone eras Christians have often led the way in the arts: from music, to sculpting, to painting, to writing..believers helped shape the world and its views. Many Christians today are passionate about reclaiming the arts and I am definitely one of them! Please keep our team in prayer..
Thanks for all your encouraging words out on the road and thru this site! Blessings to you..
Together living in His love,
||6/26/2007 - Answers from Mandisa
I've read your messages...here are some answers-FROM MANDISA
I hope you are all enjoying the summer. It's been extremely busy for me but I love what I am doing so no complaints here. I've been able to meet several of you at festivals and concerts and I hope to meet many more in the coming months.
I have a great team of people that take care of my myspace regularly and I am so thankful to them for keeping you all updated on what is going on. Because I get to hear from so many of you guys I don't get to answer each of you individually when you write me. BUT...I want you to know that I enjoy reading your messages so much! As a matter of fact, when I am feeling a little "blah" I love opening my inbox and hearing from you. Inevitably I leave feeling refreshed, renewed, and inspired. Thank you so much for that.
After reading many of your messages I have noticed a recurring theme in some of your questions. So! Let me do my best to answer some of the things I hear so often:
1. Several of you have asked how to get booking information. Creative Artist Agency (CAA) handles all of my booking requests and you can submit a form here You can also find this information at the bottom of my website homepage: www.mandisaofficial.com
2. Many of you have publications, websites, and shows and have asked about conducting an interview. The Media Collective handles all of my publicity and would love to coordinate all of that. Here is their website. Contact info is at the bottom: http://www.themcollective.com/aboutus.htm This info is also on my website.
3. I have loved hearing from many of you who play instruments and are interested in auditioning for my band. I'm honored! I do have some regular cats I work with but you never know. I must say that I only use people in the Nashville, TN area because of travel and rehearsal reasons. I realize that will disappoint many of you but I am a living witness that if you hold on to the hand of the Father you will run smack dab into His purpose for your life! If you are in the Nashville area and can send a demo, please send it to True Artist Management 227 3rd Avenue North, Nashville TN 37064 (In keeping with the theme, this information is ALSO on my website...hehehe)
4. Lots of you have asked about autographed pictures so we have decided to make those available shortly (We just have to print some up and have a "signing party" where I knock a whole bunch of them out at once!) In the meantime, I want to let you know that they are offering autographed copies of my CD if you pre-order it before July 31 on my website. Click here for more info.
Now let me answer some of your specific questions you wrote in about:
5. "Is there a possibility that we might be getting a music video from Mandisa for the single, "Only The World"?"..........Good question. We have been thinking very seriously about that but think we are leaning more towards doing a video for the song "True Beauty". Many of you have asked me about that one and we have some pretty good ideas. More to come...
6. "You wear very stylish clothes so I was wondering where do you shop?".....Thanks girl! Because I have been modeling for "Ashley Stewart" they hooked me up with several great outfits. There are new stores popping up everywhere. You can visit their website to find the nearest location to you. http://www.ashleystewart.com/AS/ (Oh! And for the sister who asked me where I got the black and white dress I wore on the AI red carpet...You got it! Ashley Stewart!)
7. "Will the song "God Speaking" be available as a trac to sing for church?"...I believe so! There will most likely be several companies that will offer trax for this and probably "Only the World" too. Your best bet is www.praisehymn.com. I don't think it is available yet but it should be soon. Keep an eye out and I'll let you know if I find out anything else concrete.
8. "Really love your song "Only The World," and I was wondering if you have published the music for purchase. Especially if there is a choral arrangement of it. I would love to use your song in our Youth Choir this summer."...Thank you! We have not published the music yet but I just found out that there will most likely be a songbook that would contain sheet music for this and several other songs on my cd. You mentioned that you would like it for summer but I'm afraid it will not be available until the fall, probably October. Sorry...
9. "Can you give me some pointers as how to use my voice to it's full potential? What are the best voice warm ups?"...The best advice I can give you is to take full advantage of your school (if you are in it). Many schools offer several choirs, music theory classes, etc. Beyond that I would ask your music teacher if he/she can recommend someone who offers private voice lessons. If you are not in school you can probably call a local college and ask the voice teacher there. They often moonlight as private teachers as well. Lastly, there are countless vocal exercise cds that basically work your voice in various scales and techniques. My suggestion is that you ask a voice teacher to recommend something or to record a session with that person and use it to warm up. I always prefer an individual's help over a recording though.
Well, that's about it for now. I'll keep an eye on my inbox and try to post answers as much as I can. I love you guys!!!
P.S. Thanks to those of you who responded to my last blog to tell me about "So You Think You Can Dance"...Love it! Hok and Lacey are my favorites!
||6/14/2007 - NUMBER ONE ON BILLBOARD CHARTS!
OH MY GOSH!!!
Okay...I am like totally flipping out (did I just channel the California girl living inside of me, or what?!) I just got the news that you guys have made "Only the World" #1 on the Billboard Singles Chart! THANK YOU!!!
The first week I was #2 behind Beyonce & Shakira and last week I was #2 behind Kelly Rowland & Eve. I was certain that Michelle Williams was going to put out a single and I would be behind her this week (LOL! A little Destiny's Child humor for those who have no idea what I am talking about…) Anyways, I was so honored to even be listed in the same breath as those superstars…but what can I say? I have the greatest supporters in the world! You have made me feel humbled, honored, and loved. For that I am truly grateful! I love ya'll (there's the Nashville girl coming back out! Hehehe…)
||6/14/2007 - I've missed you
It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me but guess what? Guess who is talking to you right now? Or, er, typing to you?…a girl who has finished recording her entire CD!!! Whew! What a whirlwind! Last week I recorded my final song "He Will Come" and I am officially DONE! I had 10 songs but we added two more at the last minute because I absolutely fell in love with them. "He Will Come" might tie "God Speaking" as my favorite song on the whole CD. (Actually, at some point I think all of the songs were my favorite!) Anyways, "He Will Come" is the kind of song I don't want to ruin for you by trying to explain it. I want you to hear it for the first time and hopefully you will know exactly what I am talking about. The other song, "Love Somebody", features my boy tobyMac and his band Diverse City. It's all about how we can choose to love even when we don't agree on everything. Boy, can I testify to that! I can't wait for you to hear all of the songs. I know you have waited so patiently for me to release True Beauty and I want to thank you for your patience. July 31st will be here before we know it. I hope the finished product will be worth the wait. I'll try to post some more songs on here soon. Did you know that you could hear some clips on my website? Yeah…I didn't either! I have the best technical team in the world that handles all of the stuff that makes my brain hurt to even think of! Somehow they've posted clips from several of my songs on www.mandisaofficial.com. I was on it the other day and was amazed to hear myself singing! (Shows how much of a techy I truly am, huh? Pitiful really…)
I know I've not blogged in a while here but I have been writing journals on my website. I'll see what we can do about posting them in both places (once again, a task way over my head…) I do want you to know though, that I really enjoy reading your comments. You are all so encouraging and supportive. I can't explain what your kind words mean to me but I hope you'll hear my heart when I tell you "thank you". I love you all so much!
So on to something lighter…anyone else a bit put off by summer TV offerings? If you know anything about me you know I am a reality TV buff. But with no "Idol", "Survivor", or "Amazing Race", I'm in a bit of a slump. Are you guys into any new shows this summer you wanna recommend?
||5/2/2007 - American Idol Top 6 - FROM MANDISA
I want to make this one short tonight cause I have to get off the computer to VOTE! I thought I would just take a few minutes since Melinda's VOTING lines are all busy. Since the lines are open for 4 hours tonight I have more time to VOTE...I don't know if this qualifies as subliminal but are you seeing where I'm going with this?
Tonight's show was awesome! I actually had a difficult time narrowing down my top three, so aside from who I am VOTING for because I love her and think she is an amazing performer, I'll just say who I thought the night went to...drum roll please....Blake!
Simon was right, 1/2 of the audience will hate it, and then there are people like me who loved it! So creative, so contemporary, so beyond what we typically see on American Idol. This just solidifies my point of view that Blake will have an amazing career regardless of what place he finishes in.
If you are wondering why I am all hyped up about voting tonight, please read my last blog titled "Idol Gives Back". Tomorrow is sure to be an eventful night of results. I am off to do my part to keep my girl in. Please do the same for your favorite!
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
||4/18/2007 - Mandisa blogs about Sanjaya's exit from American Idol
If you are in the West coast and haven't watched tonight's results yet, DON'T CONTINUE READING!!!
that's right...You in California...
last chance to click the "X"
For everyone else who knows that Sanjaya's universe has been cut short I couldn't resist breaking my usual blogging schedule because I am overcome with so many emotions. The results show just ended and I feel elated, convicted, hopeful, and saddened. When it got down to Lakisha and Sanjaya I was so fearful that Lakisha's "less than desirable" Country performance would result in her doom. Then it happened. Ryan announced that Sanjaya was going home and the crowd erupted in a thunderous applause. I was tempted to join in with them until my eyes turned to a little 17 year old boy with tears in his eyes. Then in what seemed like an instant my thoughts went to how he must be feeling in that moment. Here he was in the middle of what I know feels like an indescribable disappointment. I can only imagine that after all he had been through there were also feelings of mixed relief as well. As Ryan guided our attention to a clip of Sanjaya's journey, the latest victim of lackluster votes stood embraced with Lakisha. I wondered what was being communicated in that embrace that reminded me of a mother embracing her child. Was she saying "You will be ok"? Maybe "Take a deep breath, it is finally over"? Or possibly (and probably) just the simple, yet meaningful phrase "I love you". As we strolled down memory lane with what will probably be the most memorable contestant in Idol history, tears began to make the long journey down his young face. It was then that I felt an immediate sense of conviction. Ever since my time on Idol I have spoken freely about not turning reality tv contestants into characters. I explained that we were real people with real feelings, not just characters carefully planned out to entertain audiences. I even went into season 6 of Idol feeling this way. I tried to be very careful not to speak negatively about anyone that I did not know personally. I tried not to judge or interpret the meaning behind any actions. But somewhere along the line I fell into the trap dug by the media frenzy that surrounded Sanjaya. I tried not to defame him publicly in this or any other writings that I did. But I have to confess that I did not hold to that same standard in my private conversations with family, friends, or even fans. I am guilty of doing exactly what I asked others not to. And for that I am truly sorry and repentant.
Beginning tonight we will hear jokes about Sanjaya on late night shows, morning shows, radio shows, etc. We will see his sweet face and hear his timid voice answering a swarm of questions about his journey over the last few months. Some will inquire, some will encourage, some will laugh. I want to encourage each of you reading these words to join me in holding to a higher standard.
Let me tell you a bit about what Sanjaya will face this week. Right now he is preparing for an interview with "American Idol Extra". After that he will attend what is affectionately called "The Kiss Off Dinner" with his fellow contestants. I am confident that they will build him up before sending him out. Tomorrow morning, beginning at 4 AM, Sanjaya will begin a media blitz. He will endure countless interviews with radio, television, newspaper, and magazines. He will not get home until next week. For me, this was one of the darkest times of my life. I had countless questions and no answers. I shut out the Lord and everyone else who loved me. As a result I plunged into a deep depression that lasted for a long time.
I am pledging to pray for Sanjaya every day this week. Will you join me? Every time you hear someone speak of him, whether it is how glad they are that he is gone or how sad they are to see him go, will you allow this to spark you to intercede on his behalf? Pray specifically for clarity and understanding (pray Psalm 119:169 for him). Ask God to give him peace through the storm (Mark 4:39). Ask for the protection of the armor of the Lord (Eph 6). Pray for wisdom beyond his short 17 years (like Solomon in 1 Kings 4:29). Pray that he would get his value and identity from what God says about him rather than man (Prov 29:25).
I know that for several of you, praying may not be something that you do on a regular basis. It is ok. It is as simple as talking to a friend. You can speak out loud or even in your mind. God is everywhere. He loves you and hears you when you call on Him. I can guarantee you, He is listening. You don't have to sound polished. He just wants you to talk to Him. Give it try. You can start with this, and take it from there..."Not really sure where to begin here God. I just want to pray for Sanjaya. So for him, I ask for...................
||4/18/2007 - Mandisa blogs about American Idol Top 7
I have enjoyed reading all of your comments to last week's blog. Some agree with me while others don't. Having been a part of it, I had almost forgotten how intense people get about AI. But I love being able to hear from you guys and appreciate the fact that we can have differing opinions yet still a healthy respect for each other.
As you know, I was able to visit the Idols last week when Haley was eliminated. (Don't worry, if you blinked near the end of the show you missed me.) I was so glad I was able to spend some time with the contestants and was able to pass on encouraging notes to a few of them. My intention was to write to each one but I ran out of time on the plane so only got to Melinda, Lakisha, Jordin, and Blake. I must say though, that after meeting Phil and Chris R, I love them! Those two and Jordin were so kind and personable and it was a pleasure meeting all of them. It was especially great spending a little time with Melinda. She is doing well and her spirits are up (as they should be). That was important to me because I know everything that is riding on her right now but she is handling it all beautifully. And as an added bonus, I got to hang with my girl Paris Bennett during a taping of "Idol Tonight". I hadn't seen her in several months so it was a very pleasant surprise. I just love that girl!
So, onto tonight. Did you watch? I have to admit that watching the remaining 7 sing Country songs brought back a lot of memories. After all, it was during Country week that I was "invited to leave" (as Bucky puts it). It's funny, I have been watching a lot of CMT lately because my TiVo records anything that Kellie Pickler or Bucky Covington appear on. Needless to say, living in Nashville also adds to my "expertise" on the subject (ha)!
As I sat down to write my thoughts tonight my intention really was to focus on tonight's performances, but having mentioned Paris, Kellie, and Bucky gives me another idea. I'll get to my top three in a moment, but let me take a minute to brag on my fellow season fivers! I can't tell you how proud I am to be listed in the same company as my friends from last year. When we went on tour I wrote them a message in the souvenir book. I said "let's go make history". Well we are doing just that. I don't know exact statistics from the past but I don't think there has ever been another season where eight out of ten landed record deals (soon to be nine). Each album that has already been released has debuted in at least the top three of their genres (if you don't have Taylor, Katharine, Elliott, Chris, Kellie, or Bucky's albums, you don't know what you are missing!) But it's not just music. Even while working on his album, Ace has done the most amazing things for a charity he started to raise money for the Children's Hospital in Denver. Visit here for more info: www.myspace.com/highrollerswithheart Several other Idols have either appeared, or are set to appear on major television shows, including Lisa who was just offered a role on a new Fox show (after already landing a recurring role on Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101"). I can go on and on about everyone but it would all end with me feeling like a proud mama. I wish nothing but the best for the people I was so blessed to spend the better part of a year with. I love them all! And I love you all for allowing us to live our dreams. After all, you voted for us. I know I speak for each of us when I say that we could not have done it without you. Thank you.
Ok, ok, ok... that's enough mush...we are now onto season 6 and my top three picks tonight are as follows:
3. Jordin: She has such amazing presence and really sold "Broken Wing" tonight. She looked beautiful and I was captured by the way she told the story of the song.
2. Phil: Ok! Randy said it as I was jotting it down in my notes. I have always wondered where Phil would fit as an artist. He sounded amazing tonight and I firmly believe that Country music is where he would shine.
1. Melinda: Trouble IS a woman and her name in Melinda! I know you must be tired of me beaming about her but I could not have loved this performance more. Awesome!
I will be very interested in seeing the bottom three tomorrow night. I have always said that being in the bottom three can be a blessing in disguise because it lights a fire under the pants of your fans. Do you think it will have an effect on Phil and Chris? Should be interesting. What do you think?
||4/11/2007 - Mandisa blogs about the American Idol Top 8
Just finished watching American Idol where the theme tonight was "who can wear the most red lipstick"?! Just playin'. It was Latin night with special guest Jennifer Lopez.
Was I the only one disappointed with tonight's show? I have been getting into the habit of rating each contestant from 1-10 and just about everyone fell into the same range for me. No real standouts in my eyes tonight. Now don't get me wrong. My girl (Melinda) and everyone else I usually favor still did well, but no one stole the night in my opinion. I have a feeling that tomorrow night's bottom three will raise some eyebrows. And guess what? I'll be in the audience to witness it all. I'll do my best to give you a full report when I get back. Be sure to tune in to "Idol Tonight" on the TV Guide Channel and especially "American Idol Extra" on the Fox Reality Channel where I am being interviewed and singing the title song from my new cd, "True Beauty".
So....since I don't have much to say about tonight's performances, I'll go ahead and deal with the issue that I get so many questions about. If you have been reading this blog regularly you may have noticed that there is a certain contestant that I don't ever mention. Yep! That's right...Welcome to the Universe of Sanjaya.
Let me preface my opinion by saying that I have purposely avoided this topic for several reasons. First of all, I figured that there has been enough press about him already everywhere you look. Secondly, I have been very deliberate about just building up those I loved and not mentioning who I think should not be there. But at this point, everyone is talking about it so let me just give my two cents.
For those of you who asked me why he is still around, it is very simple. There are a lot of people voting for him. Shall I list them? The votefortheworst community, Howard Stern's listeners, sympathy voters, and young girls who think he is "soooo cute". I have also heard that people in Hawaii are voting en masse for Sanjaya. I don't think it is just one solitary segment of people. I think that all of those groups combined are keeping him in. Also, this has become a big media story. Remember in the top 24 rounds when he was in the bottom three often? Now he has been spared from the bottom for several weeks. It is because more people are getting wise to the humor that comes along with his advancement each week. Do I think he'll win? No. But your guess is as good as mine for when he will be eliminated.
With that being said, I must confess that all of the hype is beyond Sanjaya. I don't think he is quite as horrible as everyone makes him out to be (as a matter of fact, I think he is even improving). But he is certainly not in the same league as some of the other contestants. I think he is young and impressionable and I know how Idol works. I can guarantee that all of the media attention on him, as well as the slew of half naked former contestants is a very clever way of keeping Idol in the news. I can't go much further than that, but just trust me when I say that everything is very strategic.
So, what to do in the meantime...vote for your favorites. The push to advance "the worst" (whoever it may be), will only work if everyone else does not do their part.
Okay, okay, now I know this is a hot topic. I'm sure you have a lot to say on the matter. Let's hear it!
||4/4/2007 - Mandisa blogs about American Idol Top 9
This is a bitter-sweet week for me as I watch American Idol, knowing that tomorrow (Wednesday) will mark the anniversary of my elimination. While looking back I can say that it was probably the best thing that happened to me, I must confess that it propelled me into one of the darkest times of my life. Thing is, it is amazing the lessons one can learn in the dark. I love the way The Message translation of the Bible puts one of my favorite scriptures, Romans 8:28, "That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." In hindsight, I see that verse to be true in my life. I hope you do in yours too. Even with that knowledge though, I still feel like I will have a certain kinship to whoever is eliminated tomorrow.
I have some ideas on who that might be, but because I have been in the position that these current contestants find themselves in now, I just don't want to add to the swarm of people that are already inserting their two cents. That is why I always try to focus on my favorites rather than point out who I think should be in the bottom or be eliminated. I'll leave that for Ryan to announce.
For those of you who have been visiting me on this blog, I can't tell you what enjoyment I get from reading your comments! I love that we are able to have a healthy dialog about our favorites without it getting nasty. I always say that people can have different opinions and yet still have respect for one another. Thank you so much for sharing with me. I look forward to your opinions on tonight's show!
I am afraid that my top three will be fairly familiar to those faithful readers. I really do try to be impartial but I am finding that my favorites throughout the whole competition happen to be my favorites of the night pretty regularly. That being said, I think you can guess who my top three of the night are:
3. Blake (8.5 out of 10): He is a regular in my top three because I can see so much potential in him in today's pop music industry. Tonight he made a wise choice in proving to America that he is more than just a beat boxer. The boy can flat out sing! And for the record...I love the way he forms his mouth when he sings. Just another thing that makes him original.
2. Lakisha (9 out of 10): KiKi and Jordin often switch places in my top three. Tonight it was all about "Stormy Weather" (which ironically is happening right outside my window as I type). What can I say? She was excellent!
1. Melinda (10 out of 10): No surprises here! Was it me or was this her best performance yet!? I really think that Melinda may be the only contestant in history to never get a negative comment. The worse it ever got was Simon not liking her dress last week! Honestly, I think any vocalist can testify, watching Melinda really is like watching a master class in performing. I understand what Paula was saying with there being a beginning, middle, and end to each song. She tells a story with each performance. There is a very deliberate set up, meat of the performance, and a finale. Brilliant!
Look for me next week in the audience. I'll be the one holding a big sign for my girl. Then watch me afterwards on "American Idol Extra". I'm doing a brief interview and performance from my cd.
So, who were your favorites tonight? Can't wait to hear from you!
||4/3/2007 - bethany dillon song by song
I began this song wanting to write about barrenness. I started chewing on that idea after visiting my cousin Matt and his wife a few months ago. Their 2-year-old son, Ian, was playing on the floor of the living room the whole time, with pictures of their two other sons, Stephen and Andrew, on the walls around us… neither of them lived long after birth. I’ve been so moved by their soft, soft hearts for Jesus—not in spite of, but I think because of what they’ve had to walk through in the past few years. It made me think of the stories of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth: women whose wombs were closed, and yet, their barrenness was SO important to the Lord. He used those women’s heavy hearts to do something eternally significant in the Kingdom. And so, the morning after visiting my cousin’s family, I sat back in my room and started humming the beginnings of this song…
Come Find Me
I was so drawn to the book of Deuteronomy last fall—the book is just a lot of Moses reading the law over the people of Israel, who happened to still be wandering in the wilderness. The black and white on those pages came to life while I read about the blessings that come with following the Lord, and the curses that come with being rebellious to Him. To be honest, the people of Israel have always been a comfort to me, simply because I see so much of ME in their messy, human stubbornness. I kept returning to a particular passage in Chapter 4 that says, “…Watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves… gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him.” (v. 15,16,28,29) It’s such a familiar fight for me, wanting SO badly to have something tangible to follow, but also knowing that there’s something irreplaceably and unexplainably sweet about loving and trusting a God who isn’t visible… yet.
I just started singing this chorus one morning last summer in the quiet of my room: there’s nothing like waking up to You, and kept singing it throughout that day. I’m so not good at writing songs from a simple, happy kind of place… it’s much easier to write when you’re in the middle of a big ole wrestling match! But, the Lord has moved me in such powerful, unexpected ways—everything from being in India this past June, to being stuck for hours back in my room reading about salvation and redemption in such a fresh way that it felt like I’d never heard it before. So, this song just kind of oozed out of me that day… a really, really simple “thank you” song.
I remember writing this melody in the green room on my first day out on tour with Jeremy Camp almost two years ago. We’d finished rehearsals and I walked backstage to my room to try and be alone for a couple of minutes to process… I sat down with my guitar and started humming, singing nonsense words. A few months later, I was reading the story of Jacob (I keep returning to him- his messiness is so comforting to someone like me!) and began brainstorming for a lyric on this melody. I knew I wanted the chorus to say “something there” (it was part of the original nonsense words that ended up fitting), and then I started to explore retelling Jacob’s story of wrestling and feeling the weight of his name (“deceiver”) over his life. Only days before recording in L.A., Aaron (my brother/road manager) and I were hanging at our hotel one afternoon, sitting outside, reading… and I felt like I heard the Lord say, “go up to your room and wait for me—I’ll write the lyric.” After about 10 minutes of wondering if it was just Beth or really the Spirit of God influencing my heart, I took my book and walked up the stairs to my room, and 15 minutes later, the song was finished! Yet another time He proved to me that He really doesn’t need me to write songs. And even though the song isn’t, per se, about the life of Jacob, it still is very much a “wrestling song.” Begging for Him to give me proof that He isn’t through with me…
I heard Beth Moore speak at the Passion Conference in Nashville a while back. Something she said that afternoon stuck with me: “The thing that can make me cry at anytime about Him… the thing that blows my mind… is that He changes us.” It rang SO true in me! Knowing all too well how much I’ve struggled with anxiety and fear and being addicted to guilt… and how He has healed so many of those things in me, and continues to! As the year went on and I saw the evidence of His moving in my life even more, I wanted to write a song about that simple, profound thing that comes with being around Him long enough… He starts rearranging the furniture… He ties up loose ends and, at the same time, stirs wonder and hope. I’m convinced that I’m different than I would’ve been on my own because of the reality of Jesus in my life. I’m so glad!
Top of the World
I think the two things that have surfaced the most during this writing process have been wrestling with living in the unseen, and being completely overwhelmed by His affection for someone as unlikely as ME. This song has both of those themes in it… living in the wake of all that He’s done for me, all that He’s loosed in me, without really deserving it or expecting it… which, for a grew-up-in-rural-America-church-girl, feels like a kick in the stomach. A GOOD kick in the stomach, if that makes sense. Ed had the idea for a chorus with the line, “I’m on top of the world,” which fit so well around where my heart has been toward Him…completely in shock that He would care for me, and being so thankful that He does.
One morning out in the living room, my Mom, Aunt Deb, and I were talking about how so much of our movements toward Jesus are fueled by guilt. So much so that it becomes a familiar, almost comforting place to return to… convincing ourselves that He must think the way we do and react the way we do. It’s been such a painful thing to leave, honestly. I wish I could fully believe that my God loves me more than my tiny brain could ever understand. The picture does get clearer the more time goes by, but there’s always that lingering question… does He really, really, REALLY love plain ole Beth? The girl who sometimes would rather sit and watch TV for hours or strum a hunk of wood instead of just being quiet and listening for Him? The girl who forgets so quickly what humility looks like, or obedience? And even when I’ve done everything right… the super-Christian checklist complete: I’ve prayed, read the Bible, been sweet to my family, even wrote an encouraging letter to someone… I’m still haunted by the reality that I need grace to be dumped over everything anyway. So, during the summer, I wrote this song— begging for Him to convince me that His love really is better than I could ever hope.
Are You Sure?
In being loved—whether it’s a reflection in the tangible of being loved and pursued by Him, or by God Himself—there’s that constant second-guessing game going on in your head. If they really knew you, there’s no way they’d care for you. It’s hard to get over how human you know you are and try to accept that someone sees you in all your messiness and isn’t driven away by it.
When You Love Someone
It was such a fun process writing this song… Ed and I hummed through this chord progression during one of my trips to Nashville, and then one particular morning I showed up and had some thoughts for a lyric. He handed me a guitar, and I went and sat on the porch outside the studio and wrote six or seven verses… We sat outside that afternoon and worked on the chorus and then had a song! For a couple of hours, we just sat in front of a microphone in the studio and sang through it together… it was such a blast.
I’d been having conversations with a dear friend of mine early last summer about being a beggar before the Lord. That picture was so rich to me, especially with my trip to India coming up. I started to write the lyric before I left:
Change my mind/Say something I’ve never heard/Something that is too high/Leave me limping and in wonder…
I brainstormed about it for a while, worked on a couple different lyric ideas, but didn’t finish it before my brother, dad, and I left last June for India. I’m so thankful for that. Our first day there began in a train station in New Delhi… we had a three-hour trip to Ambala, where we were going to church with some Bible college students and believers who lived in the slums outside the village. The next nine days were full of the most overwhelming pictures of the Kingdom… and being poor in spirit… embracing poverty before Jesus. During that train ride, looking out the window at mothers holding their babies over the tracks to relieve themselves, I pulled my journal out and scratched out the lyric I had before, replacing it with this:
You changed my mind/You said something I’d never heard/Something that is too high/It’s left me limping and in wonder/Because all the things I know/Suddenly seem so small…
You Are On Our Side
This was the first song written for the record. We came home in the fall of 2005, just before Thanksgiving, unpacked all of our suitcases and settled in for two full months off. That year had had lots of good things in it, but tiring things as well. My heart felt ragged and unable to really be broken, yet feeling on the edge of falling apart every time I went into my room to be with Jesus. What a sweet two months those were. Looking at it even now, it was the timeliest thing I’ve experienced from Him… the things I heard back in my room at 2 am on those nights are still sticking to my ribs. He began to really heal my mind—the way I approach Him, the way I see Him, the way I see me around Him… so unexpected, and exactly what I needed. One day I started to read Psalm 147 and sank my teeth in deep… I loved this picture: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (v. 2,3) So many passages I read during that time had the word “outcast” in them… It makes so much sense to me that He’d want to gather the strong, wise, together, churched, to Himself… and yet, I keep seeing Him gather the weak, poor, sick, depressed, unchurched, those who are cynical about the church… what a radical, scandalous thing; that the God of the universe would welcome a bunch of cripples to the table! And not to sit just anywhere, but in the place of honor. To see Him get up in the middle of the meal, wrap a towel around His waist, bend low, and begin to wash the crusty, caked-on dirt off our feet, I’m still so overwhelmed by that picture of Him… and even more, by the fact that it’s true. That day I started to sing this song back to Him.
||2/28/2007 - Mandisa blogs about American Idol's top 10
Okay...so just watched tonight's elimination show and I am not a happy camper! But I don't want to get ahead of myself. Let me back track.
I was in the recording studio until midnight Tuesday so I didn't get a chance to watch the performance show until this afternoon (but you know I had to vote for my girl! I asked Melinda to send me a text message telling me what number she was so I could send a little love her way Tuesday night!) But before I get to the show, mentioning the studio reminds me that several of you have asked about my book and cd. It is a tumultuous time for me right now with recording and traveling for shows but if I can make it to May, I think I'll survive. FYI-there are three dates to remember: June 1st is when my book "Idoleyes-My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame" will be in stores. Actually, many stores will begin receiving them by the beginning of May but ALL stores should have it by June 1. You can click on that link on my myspace homepage to pre-order it. More than anything, I just wanted to tell my story. A lot of stuff went down during my time on "Idol". That book is my opportunity to share a bit about my experiences on the show and the lessons I learned as a result of it. Ok, ok, I digress. Second date is May 22nd. That is when my single "Only the World" will be in stores. It will contain a couple of songs that will be on my full cd, which comes out July 31st. Whew! That's enough about me. Let's talk about Idol!
I'm sure you know how sad I was to see Stephanie go last week. I really liked her and still think she can have a good career in R&B if she plays her cards right. Good management and a good label will serve her well.
Tuesday's show featured Gwen Stefani and the ten Idols singing songs from her, her group "No Doubt", and songs from the people who inspired her. Now, keep in mind that I am basing my top 3 picks, NOT from who I like generally, but who I think had the best performances:
(Honorable mentions must go to Jordin, Gina, and Lakisha. Loved them all and it was hard to narrow it down to my top three.)
3. Surprisingly, I loved Phil's performance of "Every Breath You Take". I just love his voice and feel like this was his strongest night with this style of song. Still think he is missing the "It factor", but for tonight, he wins my vote for one of the best.
2. Blake. I just can't get enough of him. I must admit that when I saw that he was going to beat box again during his package before he sang, I was a bit disappointed. I love that about him, but I think America really needs to know that he can flat out sing, without all of the bells and whistles. I was so glad when he kept the beat boxing out. Wise choice. I think it is so foretelling for Simon to have compared Blake to Chris Daughtry from my season. He scolded Blake for being "in this Chris Daughtry zone where you are doing your own thing" and being indulgent. What is funny is that I think Simon is seeing something he doesn't even realize. Chris did not win the title of "American Idol" but he has won the hearts of many Americans (as seen by the millions of records he sold). Enough said.
1. Guess who? That's right. Melinda gets another 10 from me. Contrary to Simon's point of view, I think she looked amazing in that dress. And once again sang her tail off with "Heaven Knows". She has been so consistent all season and that is extremely rare. Here is my concern with Melinda's chances. I have noticed a trend with voting. Do you realize that being in the bottom three and not being sent home is the best thing that can happen to an Idol contestant? Sure, it doesn't feel great at the time, but it usually keeps you around for much longer because all of your fans realize that they actually need to vote. Fans of Melinda (and Lakisha, Blake, and Jordin for that matter) may get a little bit lax with their voting and then what will happen? Well...just ask Chris Sligh...
Sadly, Chris was sent home tonight. First time in the bottom three and sent packing. I know how it feels Chris. It was down to Me, Elliott, and Paris last year when my time on Idol came to an end. It was the first time in the bottom three for each of us and it did not feel good. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 139. Verse 16 says "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be". God was not caught off guard when I was eliminated. He was not surprised by Chris' elimination tonight. He knows the plans he has for me, Chris, and everyone else. Chris is a worship leader at his church so I am sure he knows that...I hope that you do too. Still, I know exactly what he must be feeling tonight. It hurts, but Chris has the anticipation of the top 10 tour this summer to soften his blow. I hope that he also knows that you don't have to win American Idol to find success from it. With his wit and uniqueness, I don't think we've seen the last of him.
So what are your thoughts on this week's performances and elimination? You know I can't wait to hear from you. I always enjoy reading your comments. So don't hold back. Let's dish...
||3/22/2007 - Mandisa Blogs about American Idol's Top 11
(Pardon me while I represent Tennessee for a minute...)
I have to admit how proud I am for actually posting a new blog just one week after my last. I'm on a roll! I can't help it. I was just so excited about tonight's show that I couldn't wait to share my thoughts and hear yours. So much to discuss tonight.
As I watched the season 6 contestants perform songs from the 60's British Invasion, I couldn't help but remember that this time last year I, and my remaining 10 contestants were gearing up to sing songs from the 50's. To this day I claim "I Don't Hurt Anymore" as my favorite performance on the show. After tonight's show I think there will be several contestants that will claim this performance as their favorite as well. But before we get to that, there are a couple of things I want to discuss with you. I hope you will join me this week in breaking down your favorites into three categories. Let me explain...
One of this evening's guest mentors was a British artist named Peter Noone. He said something that resonated with me. He said that American Idol "is not a singing competition. It is a voting competition." As the camera shifted to what appeared to be a very miffed Simon, I began to think about his comment. And I must say, I agree. I don't believe that the winner of American Idol has to necessarily be the best singer in the competition. Sometimes the best singers are not the ones who are the most successful. It is not always the best performers that are the most successful either. So what is it? To be honest, I don't know. My initial thought is that the person on American Idol with the most potential for success is the contestant with a clearly defined style and genre he/she can fit into. It also helps if that particular genre is what is popular in music today. I think history has shown that the winner of Idol is not necessarily the one who sells the most records. Some of the more ambiguous former contestants sometimes have a difficult time defining who they are as an artist once they leave the show. Therefore, this first category is who I think could be a successful artist today and sell a lot of records. I have four (but two with a disclaimer):
4. Stephanie - I can see Stephanie as an R&B artist today. She has the look and the voice. My disclaimer is that she is so much like Beyonce that she needs to find something to set her apart. We already have a Beyonce and I'd say she's doing pretty well. We need to see what makes Stephanie different.
3. Chris R - I can see Chris as pop singer with an R&B bent...much like Justin Timberlake. Hence the disclaimer...Chris has been compared to JT since the beginning. He looks like him, sounds like him, even forms his mouth like him when he sings. We need to see what makes him different.
2. Gina - What is cooler than a rocker chick? I know Gina from my audition in Chicago last year. She came out of the room announcing that she had made it to Hollywood as I was walking in the room to audition before the judges. I remember her from the H'wood rounds and the girl can sing. She is also hip and cute and that is a winning combination. I think Gina would rock (literally) fronting her own all girl Rock band.
1. Blake - To me, no matter what place he finishes in, he could sell more records than anyone on this season. Why, you ask? First of all, he can sing. And he reminds me of one of those European singers like Sting. But that is not all. He makes it hip by adding in the beatbox and dance moves. To top it off...he is a cutie pie. All of that makes him unique. Blake could land a pop record deal right now with no problem.
So who do you think has the potential for the most commercial success? I'd love to hear your thoughts. But wait! Before you do that, there's more... I think I am going to adopt Peter Noone's theory that AI is not a singing competition. But if it were, who would be your favorites? Who has the best voices? For this I am going to give no thought to stage presence, performance style, looks, personality, etc. Who can just flat out sing their chops off? Well I'm glad you asked:
4. Phil - The boy blew it out tonight and has consistently shown that he can SING! Tonight he showed his range from the lowest notes with an amazing resonance to the highest of his register which he always delivers with soaring clarity.
3. Lakisha - There is no denying the power KiKi has in her voice but we have also seen her softer side and she delivers that beautifully as well. There were several moments of brilliance tonight.
2. Jordin - Did anyone else get chills tonight as Jordin sang "I Who Have Nothing"? Wow! I must say, 17 or 77, the girl has got skills. This was one of the best performances tonight and in my opinion, her best performance yet. She keeps improving and I keep being impressed more and more with her.
1. Melinda - Should this come as a surprise to anyone? Melinda's voice is flawless to me. I'll let you in on a secret; Melinda has been struggling with her voice this week. She called me yesterday to ask me to pray for her because she was hoarse (I'm guessing from sickness). I did pray. But I also knew that even sick, the girl would sing her hinney off. And she did! That's my girl!
So, who are your favorite singers? Do tell...
Okay, ready for the final category? Reading your comments to my blog last week sparked this one. My top three picks for last week were based on that week's performances. As I read your comments I realized that several people were sharing not who they though did the best, but who they just flat out like. This is an important category as well because likeability is huge in this business. A lot of this is based on personality. Some is based on style and performance. Some could be based on appearance. They may not necessarily be the best singer. They may not sell the most albums. There are several factors that come into play but what it comes down to is, who do you just LIKE?
3. Blake - Wanna know what won me over? Remember a couple of weeks ago when the packages shown before the performances were about what America didn't know about the contestants? Do you remember Blake ducking down and coming back up with his crazy alter ego? Loved it! I know a few people who hated it but it cracked me up. I also just like his stage presence and style.
2. Melinda - I KNOW I am being biased here because I actually KNOW her but Melinda is funny, sweet, and humble. And let me set the record straight about her. No, it is not an act. She really is thankful for how people are responding to her and she really is humbled by it all. It is a strange feeling to come from the back to the front and she is not putting on any act. It is so comical to me that people find her humility hard to believe and therefore question it. I think we are prone to be skeptics because we have seen so much pride and false humility in this industry but please believe me when I tell you, she is the real deal.
1. Chris S - I loved Chris' personality from the audition rounds. I love his sense of humor and hope to see more of it in the weeks to come. He just seems like someone I'd like to know. I know several people who do know him personally and they all say he is a great guy off stage too.
Alrighty, I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Sorry this was such a long blog tonight. I warned you that I had a lot to say. Just for a recap, I want to hear 1) who you think has the potential for the most commercial success 2) who you think has the best voices 3) who you just like! Bring it!
||3/14/2007 - V3 blog about their experience on the Isaac Mizrahi Show
Our experience on the Isaac Mizrahi Show was
wonderful! We had so much fun with Isaac and his
staff! When we arrived in New York we went to the
studio and tried on outfits to wear on the show with
a team of stylists and they were great. They really
focused on our individual styles and helped us bring
it all together. We went back a couple of days later
for the actual taping and it was crazy! There were
people everywhere and everything was moving so fast
because they tape maybe 3 shows in one day! We had
our sound check and we talked to the producers of the
show and we spoke with Isaac briefly and then it was
time to tape. We were very excited when the show
finally started and Isaac made us feel so comfortable
it was like talking to a friend during the interview.
This is like every girls dream to go to New York and
be styled by some of the best in the business and then
get to share your talents with them as well! The
studio audience was awesome, and they showed us a lot
of love! Our manager was there along with our mom and
two of our other sisters, and it helped to see them in
the audience cheering us on!
After we sang the show
wrapped we were able to sign our cds for Isaac's staff
and we took home everything we wore on the show (that
Overall, this experience was great and
its definitely something we'll never forget! We were
the first Urban Inspirational/ Christian Artists to be
on his show and that is amazing!! We just want to
thank God for the opportunity and for opening a huge
door for us! We would also like to send a shout out
to Ebony Shields for taking a chance and making things
happen for us!
To see photos from V3's Isaac Mizrahi experience, click here!
||4/3/2007 - Tim Hughes discusses 2 new songs
There is a song that goes on all around us. The wind rushing through the trees, the waves lapping against the shore, the birds filling the air with melody. Creation is alive in song, responding to its Creator. A couple of years ago my wife and I spent an extended break, staying in a beautiful house, just outside Sydney, Australia. We were blown away by the glory of creation. Everyday we would marvel at the sights, sounds and smells all around us. Our hearts were stirred to worship. I wanted to write a song on this theme, creation responding to the greatness of God. I spent a long time on the lyrics, describing creation’s praise.
“The rising sun that fills the sky. The starry hosts that lights the night. Reflecting Your glory.”
As I often try to do in my songs, I wanted the chorus to be a response to all we were singing in the verses. Musically I also tried to match this. The verses are brooding, whilst the chorus bursts into life.
The song climaxes in the bridge, “Creation joins as one to sing, Glorious God.” When we worship as gathered church, we join not only with millions of fellow believers throughout the world; we also join with creations praise, lifting up the Almighty God, who is beyond understanding.
A while ago I was having a conversation with a theologian friend of mine. He was challenging me that there was a lack of new songs that spoke of the resurrection of Christ; that got me thinking. At the time I was reading, “The Empty Cross of Jesus,” by Michael Green. In it I stumbled across a challenge that Michelangelo once laid down to fellow artists who were forever depicting Christ in his death on the cross, ‘Paint him instead the Lord of life.’ With all these thoughts buzzing in my head, I picked up my guitar and began to worship. Fumbling around with some chords and melodies a verse was being formed. I then sang out the chorus, “Oh happy day, happy day, You washed my sin away. Oh happy day, happy day, I’ll never be the same.”
The final stages of the song came when I rehearsed the song with my band. I wondered if there might be one last section of the song to add. My friend Ben, who was playing keys, tried some new chords and I started singing over them. After a few minutes the bridge was complete. The only thing now was to finalise the lyrics. The verses aim to fill our lips with the truth and joy of all that Christ has done for us. My desire, by the time the chorus is reached, is that hearts explode with praise.
||2/12/2007 - Krystal Meyers blogs about Valentine's day
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!! It’s coming up 2 days!!! Yay I’m so excited! I know a lot of people think its a lame Hallmark holiday, but I love it! I always have! I used to love being in elementary school and making our valentines day "mailboxes" and everyone would go around to each mailbox and put a valentine in it! No one felt left out and I always loved reading all the little valentines... and eating all the candy!!!
So does anyone have any special plans for Valentines Day? My boyfriend took me to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga as one of my presents since he has to work on Valentine’s Day! It was awesome!!! I’m making him dinner and we are exchanging gifts on the 14th though! I’m excited Another good thing about Valentines Day is the fact that when its over all the candy goes on sale!!! Woo Hoo! haha!
So tell me bout your plans and your favorite things about Valentine’s day!
I love all of you!!! HAPPY V DAY!
||12/5/2006 - Kutless blog
We just ended our Hearts of the Innocent tour in New York City. 25 cities and 30 days ago we launched the second half of this tour. Our friends Disciple joined us again and did an amazing job. We also got to build new friendships with Red and Run Kid Run. It was an amazing tour. When you factor in that we did 45 cities in the spring, this was a 70 city tour, which seems pretty crazy. In the 20,000 miles we traveled, we saw many amazing things happen for the kingdom. We don’t keep track of numbers, but we know that there were many hundreds that made decisions to follow the Lord during our tour. I don’t know how many but there were well over a thousand children sponsored through our friends at Compassion International.
It’s amazing because a tour is one of those things that starts out as just an idea and to watch it grow into something that is a reality is just mind blowing. Okay so maybe it’s just mind blowing for me. I’m just saying that a year ago, this tour was just an idea and now we can look back on an amazing show that tens of thousands of people got to enjoy and be blessed by.
The best part of touring to me is that we get to meet so many people that are affected by what God is doing through us. I suppose the irony is that in blessing someone, I myself get blessed. Every night after the show we hang out, sign autographs, take pictures and get to talk with people that came to the show. This is a time when I really get to see first hand that what I do isn’t about the show but about the people that God touches, and the show is just a tool in His hands. For all of you that got to come to one of the concerts, I hope you were as blessed as I was.
For those of you that didn’t get to come to the tour, I have an idea. Why don’t you buy our Live From Portland DVD that is coming out in December. You can put on your favorite Kutless shirt, turn out the lights, put the video on and pretend that you’re actually there! C’mon it’ll be fun, just do it. Seriously, we are releasing our first ever DVD this December. It was shot at our sold out concert in Portland on this tour and I can’t believe how crazy good it turned out. It totally captured the entire show perfectly. Christmas is coming, so you can buy an extra one for a friend, maybe a friend that doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord.
Well, we hit the road in less than 2 months with the Newsboys and Stellar Kart, so I hope that I get to see all of you in the coming months.
||11/20/2006 - Day of Fire tour update
Josh from Day of Fire
What's up Day of Fire friends & Fireheads? Tonight is the 5th show on "The Days Of The Reckoning Tour" with Decyfer Down, The Showdown, & Pillar.
“The Days Of The Reckoning Tour” has been very different for us. On the very first night we began with prayer, a dinner, and prayer service. Each band was there and we prayed for the tour, the cities, the fans, & one another. We really are excited about how God is going to use us on this tour and more then that, we are really excited to see how God is going to work in our own lives on this tour.
There is a strong sense of brotherhood & desire to see God's Kingdom advanced in the hearts of concert goers & band members alike as we are all in need of getting closer to God. We can use your prayers as this tour is over 30 dates long. It is easy to let your prayer life suffer when fatigue sets in with still so much work to do. With all that being said, we have had great times with God and we can truly feel the Holy Spirit drawing us closer, reminding us that knowing God is eternal life.
||11/21/2006 - Day of Fire tour update
Gregg Hionis of Day of Fire
Hey guys, this is Gregg from Day of Fire giving you the most accurate
and timely update you will ever read. As you know we have been on the
"Reckoning Tour" with Pillar, the Showdown and Decyfer Down, but what
you didn't know is that this tour is rocking so hard that most cities
after we play recognize a void in their existence due to the absence of
previous shows up to this caliber. What does this mean? It means that we
are having a great time on the road! We have also been putting a lot of
miles on the DOF van and we need to get new tires already! There has
been a great turn out at all of the shows and it has been cool to meet
the diehard fans.
We have been getting to know the other bands quite well and it is
starting to feel like family. That is great because being on the road
away from family is the hardest part about being in a touring band, but
we know that God is blessing us in that area. Lets see... Joe has filled
in for Brandon from Decyfer Down a few times because Brandon had to go
back home for a funeral. Here is a quote from Joe about it. "I never had
so much fun in my whole life, it felt like while I was playing the parts
I was taken on a journey of musical excellence that ended with me
jumping on a cloud of happiness. " I dont really know what that means
but I believe Joe does. Anyway we also recently celebrated Joshes
Birthday! He just turned 30. After searching for a long time we found an
Olive Garden, the perfect place to enjoy good company and delicious
food, and Josh would have loved to be there! He was actually on Pillars
bus enjoying their birthday present; a free bus ride to the next show.
We enjoyed us some Italian food for him! Thanks for all the support and
||11/7/2006 - Michael W. Smith
Michael W. Smith
I’ve just come off of one of the most unusual experiences of my life. This new album, number 19 by the way, was the fastest I’ve ever made a record in my career. Forty days from beginning to end. It was a whirlwind. It was a blast.
As a result of being so pressed for time, all of the songs were being written at once. Lyrics were flying across the internet and over fax machines, demos were being cut late at night, writers were coming and going…it was barely controlled chaos.
But, in the midst of it all, songs began to emerge that truly reflect some ideas that have captured my imagination lately. As I listen through the songs now I hear an urgency to the lyrics because there wasn’t time in the process to sit and discuss what I wanted to say. The process was more like a download of all of these thoughts and feelings that were coming out of my experience leading worship at my church. Themes like embracing the lost, stepping out of our comfort zone and taking a stand.
Being involved so much in my church has given me insight into what the church is really about. We need to think of what happens on Sunday as only 10% of what it means to be the church. The rest of the week should be 90% of what it means to be the church, the real body of Christ.
So, the album is called Stand. It is a call to stand for what you believe in. It is a call to stand outside of the walls of the church, rubbing shoulders with the lost. It is a call to stand because you’ve captured a glimpse of something so powerful you cannot stay seated. It is a call to stand “for the One who gave it all.”
This album is more than a collection of songs; it is an experience. I would encourage you to listen to it all the way through in one sitting. Hopefully, you will be moved and inspired to step out and take a stand.
Michael W. Smith
||8/14/2006 - Sarah Kelly blogs from... Sweden!
hello everyone....i am sitting here in stockholm sweden, completely overwhelmed by what i just experienced....first you must understand that i have been touring heavily for about 4 years straight...and naturally in those times are moments that you wonder if the fight is worth it....i mean, there is more money to be made in other fields that i am qualified for...and the van time is almost incapacitating at times.....
but then a week like this comes...i saw so much fruit...and totally fell in love with the people in sweden....i can't wait to go back....i truly fit there...my music totally fits there .....and i don't always feel that. i really believe that i got to see a glimpse of my future this week. and i felt that i was truly about MY FATHERS business....and there is no better feeling than that.
well, on to the next week...and i don't even know what to expect. my 2nd release....*where the past meets today* is out in a couple of days...and i have never put more of my true self in anything ever....i am proud of its outcome..and scared all at the same time...it is a mirror on a naked soul.....
It’s so nice to come home and be affirmed that you made a difference.....even if it’s only in one life....check out this letter that I got from a gal in Sweden....
First of all I just wanna to thank you for a wonderful concert. God has given you a great power in your voice, I talked to a friend and she said the same. Your voice can sat people free. I hope that you had a great visit here in Sweden. It was really great to see you again.
I'm so free now and it's so great! The three last years I have been really down in the dumps. I have been through so much darkness. My childhood was rough. And under this three last years I had to go through anorexia, bullies, false friends, people abusing me, alcohol, boys, drugs, cutting myself – really hard stuff. I was so angry at God, I didn't understand why he let me go through all this. Everything just seemed to get worse and worse. And when you where in Gothenburg and sang “Amazing Grace” the voices in my head were finally quiet, I was free for the moment. So much beauty and love, and I was so happy and so free. Following that, I experienced a retreat with my church that provided a lot of healing, too. I love God for letting me go through all the junk - that made me so strong and it helps me to understand people with the same problems and it makes it more easy to help them. God gives me all the power and he helps me through everything. My experience seeing you sing was just a part of the healing God is doing in me. Thank you.
||8/7/2006 - Sarah Kelly blogs from LA
well, it is 2:30 am LA time...and i just got back from nashville doing
filming for exclusive web performances for "hear it first" ....i'm
tired...but don't want to go to bed just yet.
life is moving at the speed of light with the release of my album only
10 days away...and it is always comforting to see some good friends
and all the gotee people when times get "rough".....seriously...they
really let the artist be the artist...(creatively speaking) and that
is so rare.
well i am touring like crazy, i leave for one of my most loved
churches in manifee california tomorrow....my new touring plans
consist of continuing to go to the churches that have supported me
all along, and also going to clubs and theatres (neutral venues...not
associated with religion or church)....to try to widen my audience as
well....this is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone....but i
am the kind of person that needs to take a stand....otherwise i get
luke warm.......i guess it is just how i am built.
also excited about going to sweden next week...my next blog will be
from there....and will probably consist of crazy stories about my
band...i can't wait to see them..(most of them live in canada)....
thanks for coming on this crazy journey with me....i mean...mike
clink producing the album?. (guns and roses, heart, jefferson starship)...what the
heck...he's an A list producer that shouldn't even know my name...and
he heard somthing in me and put a year and a 1/2 into my life producing
"where the past meets today"...assembling a dream team to put these
intensely personal songs to tape.
||5/18/2006 - Josh from Day Of Fire checks in from the road
We have been on the road rocking face!!!!! Eating bad food late at night and sleeping in vans and crowded hotel rooms. At times the road is very barbaric. We remember why we love it... It's just us and God against the elements.
Our love for our families at home keeps us focused on the mission at hand, while the family unit of the band grows tighter with each mile. The bond between bands also grows. The longer you are on the road, the more respect you have for others in your field. The bands on this tour are the real deal. In the most disappointing of times these men have the best attitudes. We are honored to be on the road with such people.
||5/8/2006 - From The Road: Day Of Fire and Red
Day Of Fire and Red
The Reborn tour has been going great. It has been a lot of fun getting to
know the other bands and their has been a great response from each crowd so
far. We are starting to work out new set lists since we have been playing
longer sets now. We are very excited about 2 songs in particular. "Let Go"
and "Lost" are quickly becoming favorites to play live. Next week after the
break in the tour we are going to have a new set so we are excited for new
music, as Josh from Day of Fire puts it.
It is also a lot of fun hearing the other bands perform their new stuff.
Some great music is coming out this June and we are excited for everyone to
go out and give it a shot. We have received many emails concerning the
release date. We have told each crowd that the record coming out on 6/6/06
has no meaning what so ever. The most defiant thing any Christian can do is
go out on that day and buy every Christian album they can.
After tonight we have a few days off for a wedding where guitarist Joe
Pangallo (DOF) is getting married and after that the tour picks back up in
OH and then up to PA very close to our hometown so we are excited to get
farther up the east coast for the first time since we started touring in
May. God is moving through people on this tour by means of a little thing
we like to call Rock and Roll and it is great to see and meet people each
night that have a story of their own to tell. We spend time after each show
talking to anyone who wants to say hi and we enjoy them as much as they
enjoy us. So come on out and check out the REBORN TOUR...
Day of Fire
We have been on the road rocking face!!!!! Eating bad food late at night and sleeping in vans and crowded hotel rooms.... At times the road is very barbaric....We remember why we love it...It's just us and God against the elements ..............Our love for our families at home keep us focused on the mission at hand, while the family unit of the band grows tighter with each mile ... The bond between bands also grows , the longer you are on the road ,the more respect you have for others in your field.... The bands on this tour are the real deal........In the most disappointing of times these men have the best attitudes....We are honored to be on the road with such people.....
||5/3/2006 - Brenton Brown discusses recording his album "Everlasting God"
It's a little like rehearsing for a date, making a worship album. The songs are written with more than just you in mind. They're written for groups of people, the people of God, to sing. And when you finally get to play them with the people of God it's like 'oh, that's what we're trying do?!'. It's a pretty sweet payoff.
Believe it or not this album took about 2 and half years from start to finish. Without doubt the longest time i've spent on a project yet. That's a long time to be imagining what the date's going to be like! But there are a few pros to taking all that time I guess. I am fully stoked with the design. And more than that, if we'd recorded the album three weeks after we started thinking about it Hosanna and Everlasting God wouldn't have made the cut - Hosanna wasn't even written yet.
I guess what's neat too is that this is my first solo project, and although i've dreaded doing something like this for years, actually it's been one of the funnest jobs i've had. It definitely beats laying water pipes! It's just a privilege to be able to have something that documents the journey that Jude and I have been on with God. It's like the Ebenezer stone in the bible. It's something to look at and remember God's faithfulness to us. Especially since we needed so much of His help during this recording....
||4/26/2006 - Hawk Nelson checks in with hearitfirst.com
It's been 3 weeks since Smile, It's The End Of The
World was released. You want to know how i'm feeling
about it....? Like dynamite., which is good. It was
a challenge making our sophmore record, a lot
different the second time around. But in the end i
was really happy we pulled it off and now i'm even
happier that people are into it. (There's always a
little fear that people will reject what you do and
what you create)
We've started the Art Of Breaking Tour with friends
Thousand Foot Krutch, Falling Up and Run Kid Run.
It's gonna be a grandios time let me tell you. Making
our way to the West Coast, where the sun is still
shining. Hope to see you at a show so we can rock the
house together. Until then, "Keep your stick on the
ice". Hockey Playoff season is here.
||3/20/2006 - Sanctus Real Blog #2
Hey everyone, it's Chris again. So St. Patrick's day was last week and I enjoyed some corned beef and cabbage. I was lucky to be on a week-long vacation down in Florida and we had the St. Patty's day meal on the beach which was a little strange. I'm back home now and getting back in 'band guy' mode. Last night I figured out how to put some of my dvd's onto my ipod video. Now that's important to know, definitely worth the 2 hours I spent figuring it out. Now I can watch the Tom Petty DVD I just bought anytime I want.
Besides that, we're planning some special treats for the CD release party we're having in our hometown of Toledo, Ohio on April 8th. If any of you
Toledoans are willing to help out email me at email@example.com.
We're looking for a few highshool and college students.
Check out our website for the latest journal from Dan about recently getting married, and be sure to sign up for the newsletter for the latest info. There's a lot to do this week and I'm gonna start with the laundry. For now check out the new record from Shawn McDonald if you haven't already and be sure to watch Lost this week - it's finally a brand new episode ;)
Later - Chris
||3/1/2006 - Catch Up With Sanctus Real
Hey guys - Chris from Sanctus here... Just wrapped up a three week run of the west coast with two amazing bands: The Afters and Mainstay. It was by far one of the best group of shows I think we've ever been able to play, but for sure one of the busiest! This tour will continue next month in support of our new record that releases on April 4th. The Face Of Love tour should hit most of the Mid-West so check out our brand new website at www.sanctusreal.com for the dates.
During a two-day break in February we were able to head down to L.A. to shoot a new music video for "I'm Not Alright." Talk about a cool director, this guy just shot the last Switchfoot video! Look for the video to hit sometime in mid March. We're actually taking most of March off so that Matt can spend some time at home with his new baby girl!!! Yeah, that was another crazy thing that happened during the tour - Matt flew home before the last show because his wife was going into labor 2 weeks early! Fortunately he made it back to Ohio in plenty of time to welcome his first daughter; Emerson Mae Hammitt. I actually got to see her for the first time today and she is AMAZING!!!
What a cool month it's been for us... but for now it's back to the arctic temperatures in Ohio. Our bass player Dan gets married this weekend down in Tennessee though - so that will be a treat. See you guys soon ;)
||2/1/2006 - Thoughts on Flying Into Daybreak by Charlie Hall
Last night (January 22nd) we played 9 of the 12 songs from “Flying Into Daybreak”. It was actually 2 days before our actual release date but for the last 5 years we’ve made a common practice of releasing each new collection of music spiritually at our home church. Releasing new music within our community of faith is important to me as a songwriter/worship leader and also to the band. We had our closest 400 friends as well as our pastor and elders lift up prayers over us as we travel, live and speak into the church abroad. They prayed for our character, our hearts, minds, families, music, etc and it was a powerful thing for this time. Lance my pastor and friend lifted these prayers over us and sent us out as we travel and release these songs to the church. This record, as I have said before is filled with hope for the broken that they will enter the next stage. They will come out of the dark and find life in Jesus. Even past the dark they will find healing and life as they go to love the people around them.
Flying into daybreak, exists because I journey toward God and I have a band around me that does the same. I find the record rooted up in Isaiah 58. The sum of this passage says that the true kind of fast that God is asking for is to go set people free, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, make things right in the world with him, etc. Then, our light will break out like the dawn and our recovery will speedily come. Your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom will become like midday. This is a message I have lived and that has been downloaded into me. I want to speak this out to the church, the burdened, and the victorious, the broken and the passionate. Flying into daybreak is a record that holds the heart and passion for the church, no religion, nothing to prove, prayers from pain and a heart to change the world. It is a journey sung back to God wrapped in rock. Thank you to those who have come along this ride and for those of you who are joining us. Live brave, dream big and rise to walk again.
||1/23/2006 - New Blog From Vicky Beeching 1/23/06
Hey there, HIF.com!
I'm writing to you from a mountain in Southern California.... It's in an area called "Big Bear" - a snowy, beautiful mountain with tons of skiing and snowboarding, all surrounding a blue, crystal clear lake. Amazing! I am leading worship at a camp here, but have not yet been brave enough to hot the slopes!!... but maybe tomorrow!
So, my album's now been out for a few weeks... I'm excited about that, and very encouraged by the feedback you guys have been emailing me! My desire is that it will lead people deeper into worship, so if it stirs your heart towards Jesus, then the album has done its job! :)
I've been thinking a lot about the new year ahead of us... This mountain in "Big Bear" has snowy slopes that are used frequently, marked with tracks from the many skiiers and snowboarders who ride there every day. But as I explored the mountain a little, I saw the beautiful sight of fresh snow - whole slopes untouched and perfect. No one had been there, no one had ridden them. They were brand new and freshly fallen.
Thats how I usually feel when January comes round and I stand looking at a new year stretching out ahead of us... untouched, fresh snow... new territory to explore and enjoy... new experiences and sights to see.... That excites me!
I always write out a few 'new years resolutions' every January, and the past few years I have summed them up in one sentence:
"Above all else, Jesus, give me Yourself"
That's a lyric from one of the songs on my new CD, and one that sums up much of my heart. It encapsulates the aim of my life, and so the goal of every new year for me. As I journey through 2006 I want to put Jesus first, seeking Him above all other things that will come my way in this coming year. Like the parable of the Pearl of Great Price, I have found in Jesus, the treasure my heart has always longed for. Like the merchant seeing the pearl, I gladly surrender everything else for the joy of having and knowing this treasure - Jesus.
So as this new year dawn, and you think about your goals and resolutions, lets encourage each other to put Jesus first and in 2006 to pursue Him "above all else"
||12/19/2005 - Featured Artist Post 12/19
I'm writing this, sitting in a central London hotel, just a few streets away from Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the rush of the London Underground.. I just flew in yesterday, and it's exciting to be coming home for a few days!
Yesterday I went and visited my good friend Tim Hughes and his wife Rachel, to see the new Church they are working with in London. I walked into the church and they handed me a cup of hot tea- so I knew it was back in the UK, the land of tea-drinkers!
I'm really encouraged that people here are excited about the release of my debut album of December 27th! I'm excited too!!! I can't wait for you guys to hear it, and I really hope it will be a blessing to you :0)
So I'm sitting here in a London hotel and the real truth is - I'm writing this at 4.46am! Jet lag is a funny thing. I fell asleep at 7.30pm and woke up, totally ready to start my day at 4am. Doh! So although I feel like I'm home, 'home' feels odd when my body is so settled into a different time zone, back on US time..
It makes me think of the Apostle Paul, when he said in Philippians 3:20, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from where we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". 1 Peter 2:11 says a similar thing: "Dear friends, I urge you, as 'pilgrims' and 'strangers' in this world..."
Both Peter and Paul knew that we don't really belong in this world.
Our home is heaven! Sometimes as Christians we can feel a bit 'jet-lagged' when we realise we don't belong here, in this world's system of values and choices. In a similar way to me being on US body-clock-time, we can feel out of sync with the ways of a society that doeesn't follow Jesus. It's comforting to know that Peter, Paul anad many others in the Bible's pages felt exactly the same way!
Hebrews 11 says the same thing about many heroes of our faith...Abraham, Issac, Moses, Joseph.."They admitted that they were 'pilgrims' and 'strangers' on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking towards a different country, longing for a better country—a heavenly one". They knew they didnt belong down here, and they lived at citizens/people belonging to, a different place, a heavenly home.
In Hebrews 12 it says those same heroes of the faith are now cheering us on, like a "cloud of witnesses" (12:1), encouraging us to keep going, down here! So we can take strength that when the world feels like a strange place. Soon we'll be home with Jesus and all will make sense. ..So from one pilgrim and traveller to another, I wish you strength in your journey with Jesus today!
Keep checking this blog each week as I'll be writing about my adventures in England.. and also sharing some fun stories about the making of my album!