Social Media Break

Well, I really enjoyed my week off from twittering and blogging. I think I may do that consistently. One week per month. Maybe the first week of each month. No social media, just invest in my family. Of course, that’s not saying that I don’t invest in my family the rest of the time. I do, but I did enjoy not having to think about anything else. It was kind of like I got to focus inside my house and forget about everyone else. Most of the time I work inside my house but I still think about everything else. I guess it reminds me of the silence retreats they do at monasteries. They say it takes a whole day, maybe more, of complete silence before your brain even starts to slow down. That’s kind of what this was like. It takes a few days before I stop the frenetic nature of my brain, trying to think about my wife, think about my kids, think about my music, think about the record, think about the mix, think about the guitar part, think about writing new songs, think about studying, think about church, think about blogging, think about who might be reading that blog, etc. But after finishing the first version of the new record, Paul (my producer) said to step away for a few days. It was hard, but over time the list started whittling down. By the end, I was thinking about my wife, my kids, and my relationship with God. The mix reared its ugly head a few times. But mostly I was focused here. That was good. I think I may make it a more regular part of my life.

Thoughts?

Todd

Recording #6, Ardent Sessions, Day Seven

Well, yesterday went well. Kids are doing better. Wife is better as well, and most importantly they all got a good night of sleep last night. That always helps. At least in my family.

Here at work, I knocked out three songs on acoustic. Sadler finished one on electric. But it’s a good one. And I finished two of my hardest songs, so that’s good to have under my belt.

It’s really been neat to watch all this come together. For the first time in my career, Paul is really approaching me not as a musician, but as a communicator of truth. And in that line, our purpose is to communicate well and to communicate to as many as God allows. So we are having conversations over melody, over arrangement, over tone, that all ask how can we best communicate this to people. I’m really enjoying it. It’s definitely challenging me.

So today, still please pray for my family. Recuperating is always tough. Heading back into your schedule when you’re still not 100% is hard. And also be praying for us. Paul, Scott, Sadler, and I will all be at work today. We’ll probably be doing electric guitars on You Are Good and Love is a Lot About You. And we’ll probably get to work on Letting Go today as well, for all those of you in Recovery and those of you that should be.

Well, it’s time to eat my oatmeal and head to work.

Todd

Punishment for Parents, by their Second Graders

My son went back to school a couple of weeks ago, starting the second grade. Parents are supposed to drop off their kids at the door; they are not allowed to come in the classroom. Apparently, some parents were taking the start of school a bit hard and broke the rule, coming in to make sure their kid was settled or to get one last hug or kiss. The second graders, at least the boys, got together and decided there needed to be a punishment for parents breaking the rule. I said, “Great, did you come up with one?” His immediate response was, “Yes, we take away their iPhone.”

I laughed… at first. Then I started to realize how accurately these 7 and 8-year-olds understood what was actually important to their parents. I heard a man talking on NPR recently, and he said, “I think we will see a huge drop in cell phone use in the next generation, because it is a sign of the abandonment they experienced in childhood.” You see it all the time. We have made a big deal out of the group of junior high boys walking together all on their phones texting someone else. Heck, sometimes they texting each other! But we have failed to mention the parents who are on their phone while the family is at dinner. The husband and wife who are together at home or in the car, and both are on their own phones. The fact that we fill every spare moment with checking the news, or email, or facebook or twitter.

If you think this isn’t you, try to make a note every time you get on your phone. And notice how long you’re on it. Maybe find someone that will hold you accountable. A person that will notice when you’re on the phone. If you’re really brave, tell your kids you don’t want to be on the phone as much, or at certain times. I promise they won’t fail to mention that you’re checking your phone at dinner… again.

It makes me wonder what we used to do with that time. I think we might have listened. I think we might have slowed down to think about things. I think we might have noticed what was going on around us. What’s going to add more to your day – slowing down to soak in the beauty of God’s creation OR checking the 140 character updates that have updated since you checked it last? Do you need to know a breaking piece of news or notice that your kid is growing up and soon probably won’t want to talk to you because they’ll be on their own phone? I wonder what God did with us when we had time to listen to Him.

Your thoughts?

Todd

Blog Delay

Well, I’ve put off blogging because I was trying to finish this one particular blog. But I haven’t. And I shouldn’t put you off any longer. So instead I’ll just tell you about the last two great weekends I’ve had.

First, I went to Wyoming. Casper, specifically. I taught in a songwriting workshop and played a solo acoustic show. It was really wonderful. We spent all day talking about Christ and how to celebrate Him in music. The people were very kind and willing to follow along whether or not I actually knew what I was talking about. We ended up talking a lot about purpose. That why you’re writing determines a lot of what you’re writing. And come to think of it, that’s probably true a lot in life as well. Then the day finished off with a solo acoustic show. We had a great intimate atmosphere. Since there had been quite a bit of difficulty getting there, we had to skip one section of the workshop, the Q&A. So instead I put it in the middle of the concert. It actually turned into a really special time. And I had the chance to talk about the Christmas record in the middle of August. The merch table sold out of the Christmas record that night. Unfortunately I had only brought 3.

My family spend a few days the next week with the cell phones off, vacationing. Nothing completes a vacation like the Lazy River. Unfortunately, we had one family member with a stomach bug. Still a good trip though.

Then this past weekend I was in Mississippi. We had a DNow with a bunch of students. It was a great time. We played volleyball for maybe an hour and a half before the first service. So I showed up all sweaty. Very impressive and professional. The worship band was the Joy Whitlock Worship Extravaganza. Okay, that’s not really their name, but I think it has a nice ring to it. They did a great job. Joy says she’s not a worship leader, but I think there is some real potential there. She’s real, and she loves Jesus. Two very important parts. I fell in love with one of the songs they did, None But Jesus. I thought maybe she wrote it, but it turns out it’s a Hillsong United tune. Off an album I already own. Oops. Anyway, it’s a great song. I was the speaker for the weekend: one message Friday, two Saturday, and one Sunday at church. It was a great weekend.

Thanks to everyone who was a part. I’d love to hear what God did in your life during our time together and since.

Todd

Thoughts On God, Forgiveness And Kids

The band was talking this morning about forgiveness. Well, about God as a pardoner to be specific. We talked about how difficult it is to rest in our forgiveness. It seems like everything in us rebels against that idea. But I started thinking about my kids. When my kids make a mistake, it does not damage our relationship. I don’t ever think, “I’m not sure I can forgive them one more time.” I may be sad or even frustrated, but it’s a momentary passing thing. When the tantrum is over, I am not angry. I am glad, grateful that the moment has passed and that we can journey once again into the joys of our relationship. I do not count the mistakes they make. I live in the pleasure of our family that brings such joy all of the rest of the time. I do not let the 5% damage the 95%. Or even when the percentages change. I love my kids. That is the overriding basis of our relationship. I enjoy them. I want what is best for them.

And if I who am evil know how to do what is good for my children, how much more will our Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Todd

BUILDING WITH PRECIOUS STONES

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul describes three kinds of builders. Well, one is a destroyer. Another builds casually and carelessly, with wood, hay, and straw. The other builds with valuable materials: gold, silver, and precious stones. When it comes to building His church, I knew I didn’t want to be a destroyer. And I knew I didn’t want to build casually with cheap materials. I wanted to fit in the last group but I didn’t really understand what that meant.

This year, God challenged me with that verse by asking, “Are you willing to build my church, my kingdom with what is most valuable to you?” I said, “Yes,” before I even thought about what it meant. Then I stopped and said, “What is most valuable to me?” Well, it’s my wife and kids. Am I willing to build the church with them? What does that even look like? But I decided that was what God was asking of me.

What do we see when we look at the younger people in our church? Do we see people that drain the budget, that distract the focus in services, that are often too loud at most events? Or do we see the building blocks of the church, both of the future and of now? We are instructed to build, not just prepare to build. The children and students in our churches are valuable members, in addition to being our future leaders.

I remember a day in my early 20’s when I finally asked my dad a question. I had grown up in church. I was in the nursery as soon as possible, I was in VBS and Bible Drill, I was on the student council. And one day I asked my dad what deacons do. I knew they took up the offering but that was about
it. I was definitely not prepared to lead the church, I hadn’t even been educated on some of the basics. And I was one of the guys they thought would be a leader.

I was at a church this weekend that the last Sunday of each month, they have a deacon come in and teach the youth Sunday School. I thought that was awesome. They were building a link between the younger and older generations as well as investing in the future of the church. The students not only knew the leadership of the church, but they knew their names, what they thought, and what their lives were like. Every once in a while a deacon has all the students over to his house. So they see him as a normal person, as a father, as a husband.

To me, that looks like a church that is building the kingdom with precious stones. I hope to learn how to do that as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can do this in our churches.

Todd