Saturday, September 22, 2012

What happened to the rest of July, August, and September...

It was completely unintentional that we would stop posting --- especially so abruptly. Honestly, we've just had no time. Our three older children started school back the first week in August, and since their mom live an hour and a half-ish away... lets just say we spend a lot of time in the car. 30 hours a week (every other week), to be exact. Not to mention our four year old is in pre-k, and I am homeschooling 2nd grade for 7 year old boy. And then there is the baby... that is attached to my hip, unless he is in bed, trying to sneak out the front door, or tearing our house apart :) but I digress.

Our creativity hasn't stopped... I'm still creating seasonal crafts to decorate the house and have recently fallen in love with creating funtional pieces of furniture from recycled things - see the "Them Two Birds" tab. My hubby is still having an ongoing affair with his iTunes, and we plan on continuing our concert tour with the Of Monsters and Men concert at the end of November. Just not much time lately to sit down and really document anything.

People who know us well know that we are in the midst of great trial with an outcome that will change our life and family forever. I'm not at liberty to write about that right now, but I'm almost sure I'll have a whole book to write when all is said and done. I think even those who know us well may be fascinated with the behind the scenes version of our story :) So prayers for us despite the outcome would be great, that God make Himself known.

Hopefully, it won't be another two and a half months before I post again... but if so, know its because our life is crazy busy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Music Monday on Thursday

You have heard me mention a lot of bands and genre of music that I really like. What you haven’t heard was of my fondness of country music. Why not? Well, because up until recently, I never liked country music – or perhaps, I never gave it a fair chance…. Either way, I swore off country music my whole life. I’m not really sure why. It could be that I grew up in New York – I didn’t know anyone who listened to country. And after moving down here to Georgia, I held on to anything northern with all my might. Including my resistance to southern culture (including grits and country fried steak and gravy – which I thoroughly enjoy now).


I believe it had a lot to do with my pride. God has been faithfully chiseling away at my pride, one painful chip at a time. I thought I was too good for country music. It was beneath me. Why was I so arrogant…? Seriously, I am AARON COOMBS. I know no wrong - unless it pertains to others (especially country music). What I believed and what my family believed was inspired by God Himself… I do jest slightly, but what a jerk!

My wife likes country music, and for my sake has for over two years suppressed her desire to listen to it - at least while I was around. Until a couple months ago she turned the car radio to a country station…. The beginning of my demise (just kidding). After enduring my heavy sighs and eye rolls, she said “I don’t know why you don’t like country music, it so very similar to folk music – that you like so much.” God’s timing is impeccable. Any other time that comment would have been followed by more sighs, eye rolls and some ridiculous arrogant reply that probably would have fueled an argument.

So, I thought about what she said and started to compare what I knew of country music to folk music. Musically, they are very similar: acoustic guitar, bass, occasional fiddle, banjo (I secretly want to play the banjo), maybe a harmonica, drums, keys, etc. they sound a lot alike. I think the difference that gets me is the vocal difference and lyrical content. Country singers tend to be twangy, sometimes over dramatizing the southern drawl – not a fan. Now, I will say there are always extremes, and not all singers sound like deep south mountain folks. But for some reason those have always left the biggest impression in my mind – thus deterring me from wanting to listen at all.

Lyrically, country music consists of a lost dog, a broken pick-up, a fishing hole and a girl that’s too good to be true. I’m not bashing these things: I have been sad about a lost or deceased dog, I like pick-up trucks and fishing, and I am married to a girl that is too good to be true…. But I didn’t grow up in a culture where all these thing were going on at the same time. We didn’t go muddin’ in New York. And you wouldn’t fish in the Hudson river…. Even though my family moved to Georgia when I was twelve, we were very out of place. Kinda like we were air-dropped in the middle of a jungle tribe somewhere.

So, now twenty-five years later, country music is starting to grow on me – slowly, mind you… my job requires me to work in a lot of different cars each day. A few weeks ago I decided that instead of changing the radio station in each car, I would listen to whatever station was on – therefore forcing myself to broaden my realm of musical influence.

I will say that at this point I don’t know one country artist from another and I generally don’t like female country singers, although I do generally like women vocalists. And there is WAY more country music that I don’t like than what I have found that I do like – for the time being, anyway. That being said, I realized that most of my attraction to country is that it is different. It’s a change for me. And I like change (most of the time…).

So, whatever style of music you prefer, there is something for everyone in every style of music. Which doesn’t mean that you have to abandon what you have always enjoyed. But, perhaps, by expanding our horizons we will have a greater opportunity to connect with those who favor a different genre of music. Which in part, will help to build community. Which is a very good thing….

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Finally... the DIY on my interior barn door




AFTER (left view dining room, right view living room)

Almost two years ago I was inspired by this interior barn door over at KillerB Designs. Although I loved how this door looked, even more so did I desire the functionality of it. See we have a 1970's "open" floor plan in our home. Basically, the living and dining room are one big room with a fireplace stuck in the middle of it. We also have no foyer... so there was no place for shoes and such unless they were just lined up against the wall as you walk in. Even more disturbing than that was that you could see straight into the dining room from the front door. You know... the awkward moment when someone shows up unexpected and you haven't swept your dining room floor in a week, because the baby is just going to keep throwing stuff down every five minutes, and you can't hide it from the unexpected visitor? Yeah... you get the point :-)

BEFORE


There is also something about a never ending circle of a room, that causes the kids junk to just continuously move about the house, hiding in nooks and crannies. SO, after putting this on the list after many other updated and changes that we desired in the house, we finally got all of the materials and just did it. (and by "we", of course I mean mainly my wonderful husband!)







 Much like KillerB I am too cheap to spend the hundreds of dollars that is quoted online to install this door, and the hardware that she purchased are not sold at the Lowe's or Home Depot in our area, so I had to do a little extra searching. Also, the biggest difference between KillerB's design and my own, is that I had no wall to attach hardware to. We had to find a rail for the ceiling that could be screwed  into the ceiling joists. Despite the store associates telling me it wouldn't work, I trusted my very handy husband and purched this rail and wheels from Tractor Supply Co.

I was not sure what color I wanted the door but teal is one of my favorite colors, and I love unexpected pops of color in our home. I was absolutely floored when I went to a local building material surplus store and found this wood called "BluWood" due to the color it changes when treated with an eco friendly product. Apparently, this should have been more expensive then the regular peices of lumber I was planning to buy, but we happened to walk in 10 minutes before close, right before a holiday weekend, in which the owner was ready to leave and get to partying :) He sold me this wood $4 a piece and each piece was twice as long  (or more) than I needed. I bought five of these for $20... and even greater than that I decided to keep the color on one side then sand and antique the other side, so I didn't have to buy any paint! Total out of pocket cost for our interior barn door? $110!  

No, that's not Aaron having a snack... that is wood glue. Why he keeps it in a peanut butter jar, I am still not certain of. So at this stage he used wood glue to hold all of the wood together as he nailed in the supports on the top of both sides. I chose not to buy extra hardware as supports and instead used antiqued 2x4's on the dining room side. I knew would eventually want to hang something on the living room side of the door, so I opted for cutting one of the blue board in half long way and using it to support on the top and bottom edges. I absolutely love the way it turned out!



Monday, June 4, 2012

Music Monday - Jonathan Peyton



I want to take this opportunity to introduce a new friend who is a new up and coming musician. Its not often that you get the opportunity to get to know a musician personally or watch his career take off. His name is Jonathan Peyton. A really cool guy. I met him for the first time in November of 2011. We met at the home of a mutual friend after a meeting about starting a church plant in Woodstock.

As we talked, our conversation easily went to music. I quickly learned about his love for music and that he was in a band. - Cool, I thought, I already really like this guy. As we talked he told me about a cd he was trying to get recorded and produced. - Wow, I was impressed, this young guy is really persuing his dream.



We went our seperate ways that evening to meet again two months later at the first service of Sojourn Woodstock church. I was excited to get to know Jonathan better as we worked with a group to start this church. He is such a genuine guy who cares about those he is close to and is eager to serve his Savior. He has a desire to learn more about who God is and how he can honor Him and is humbly willing to share his heart. He is a hard worker (which is hard to find in young guys these days), working two jobs while persuing a music career. Jonathan has been busy gaining support by performing in coffee shops and doing house shows.

So after months of raising funds, recording, mixing and producing the mission was accomplished! Saturday, June 2nd, Jonathan threw a free cd release concert - his is first ever six track EP called Like A Ghost.

Jonathan Peyton's musical style would be a blend of folk, bluegrass and Americana. His style is unique and diverse. Vocally, his sound is powerful yet soft and heart-felt. Musically, his acoustic guitar is backed by a dobro, stand-up bass, banjo, tamborine, drums and bgv's. He also plays the harmonica and mandolin in some songs. This talented guy has artfully combined these instruments to create a great, enjoyable listening experience that promotes thought and inner reflection.

Jonathan Peyton's musical style is new and refreshing, sure to satisfy and guaranteed to be a success. You can find his single for free on noisetrade.com or the full album on iTunes for less than $6 - it's well worth skipping lunch for one day!! Join the many in support of this new musician - so he can eat lunch and for our listening enjoyment!!

Aaron

Monday, May 14, 2012

Music Monday - Over The Rhine Concert


I’ve probably mentioned this before, but is there something that holds a special place in your heart? Maybe your spouse, or a special vacation, or a valuable possession. Maybe certain music always takes you back or is always there as the new memories are forming. As you may know, I have a lot of favorite bands and my wife and I have some favorites together too. One of my all time favs is Over The Rhine.
The first time I heard of them was at a Christian music festival called Inner Seeds in the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds sometime during the summer of 1992 (I think – it was a long time ago…). It was their Patience tour, their second album. Their first album was Till We Have Faces, released a year or so after they first started performing in 1990 – a little OTR history lesson. To be introduced to the band live was revolutionizing for me. After the first notes and the captivating, liquid voice of Karen Bergquist, my perception of music drastically changed. This was unlike anything I have ever listened to. The bands ability to marry music and vocals into one unified and complimentary sound was, well, heavenly (and I don’t use that term lightly). As I look around the audience the looks and expressions were the same: wide eyed, mouth opened and awestruck! After their performance I immediately bought their first two albums (on cassette… yup!) – I only had so much money to spend, I was 17 and broke, but it was well worth the investment. Those two tapes will have shaped my perception of music from then on.

Since then I have had the pleasure of hearing them live three times – twice with a buddy and fellow musical connoisseur and twice with my amazing wife (the first with her was our first date!!). We saw them last week at Eddie’s Attic with some great friends! This show was just Karen and Linford casting their entrancing spell with guitars and piano. I should point out how well their voices blend - there is very little distinction between them - so well that when singing together they sound as one. This is the product of their unity - as husband and wife and band mates for over 20 years- and that their music comes from their very core. They have been given the gift of breathing life to their music. As if a part of them is given up in every song.

As I mentioned, around two years ago my first date with my wife was seeing OTR. I knew then that I would marry her. And I knew that music would play a vital role in our relationship. OTR is one of those bands for us that will never age, or ever get dull. It is a reminder of late nights on the couch with coffee and a fire in the fireplace. Of time spent with great friends, and singing along at every opportunity. The music that we share has a way of bringing us back together. If only briefly, we can forget about the busy, hard times that life brings and gaze at each other starry eyed or hold each other in a loving embrace singing cheek to cheek. God is kind to offer moments of respite to rejuvenate our souls and to remind us why we love each other.

While I was thinking about OTR and how to try to communicate who they are, the theme of unity kept coming up: their unity both musically and vocally – as in a marriage. Could God use the gift of music to exemplify the relationship of husband and wife or the relationship of God and man? That may be a stretch, but when music and voice are merged together as one, it is truly a marvelous sound to behold – truly divine! A gift from the Creator of music – for our enjoyment and His glory.

Aaron

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Re-use Mismatched socks

As I went through our mismatched sock bag this morning... who am I kidding, it has actually taken a whole week :-)... I realized there are just some socks that I have been staring at for two years hoping to find mates to. 132 socks with no mates, to be exact. So... after sorting through them and deciding which ones were worth still searching for (about 20), I pondered what to do with these socks. It seemed like such a waste to just throw them away, and why would anyone drop them off at Goodwill for someone to deal with? So I turned to Google to find some nifty ways to reuse them. Here is a list of things I found.






Sock coffee cozy handmade gift

There are so many ideas... just get out and cyber space and find them!

Friday, May 11, 2012

What I learned about being a mom... From my Dad!

For those who know me, you know two things... We have lots of kids and I have an amazing father who loves watching them for us! My dad has raised me and two siblings by himself since I was 18 months old. He managed to hold down a job to provide for us, put us in sports so we didn't miss out on anything, and be there for all of it. One of the things I think about often is how he showed up for every practice and every game of travel fast-pitch softball, basketball, and choir for 9 years.

It's normal for your dad to provide for the family or to be there for sporting events, but my dad was my mom too. He was there for all of the uncomfortable female milestones with no help. He helped me go shopping for clothes, and dresses for dances, he planned my sweet 16 and encouraged me when I felt I didn't measure up. He stayed awake all night with me when my high school sweetheart broke my heart.

He's been there through my first marriage and was there when it fell apart. And when no one else was there to keep my children when I had to go to work full time he was always available to take care of my babies. Even since Aaron and I have been married he has seen when we needed time away from the kids to grow our marriage, and has pushed us out the door to a movie. I've never met a person who didn't like him. He'd give you the shirt off of his back and ask nothing in return. That's my dad!

So in honor of mother's day I want to express what I learned about being a good mom from my dad.

1. Showing your children your relationship with God does more than telling them about one. - He read the bible to us and we went to church, but than that I remember seeing him daily reading God's word like others would read a magazine, newspaper, or new best seller. There was no "quiet time", that was just his regular reading material of choice.

2. The truth always comes to light. - He always told me this as a teenager and the older I get the more I see its truth.

3. Sacrificing for your children never returns void. - I have learned to sacrifice because of his example and would sacrifice for anything for him.

4. Always be there to cheer your children on... They will remember. Like I said above, I remember him being there for everything. Nothing feels better than knowing someone is cheering you on.

5. Praying with your kids will last a lifetime. - I remember anytime I was afraid, worried, sick, or hurt the first thing that would come from my dad's mouth was "in the name of Jesus" or some quick prayer. I have found that to flow from my mouth in those same situations and am thankful for that.

6. Your children's trust in God will mimic yours. - My dad always had so much trust that God would provide, even when he didn't make enough to make ends meet. I find it helpful to recount God's faithfulness through those days as well.

7. Spend time playing with your kids. - We played tennis, spades, chess, and bowled on a regular basis.

There are a lot of things from my childhood that made my life horrible. More than you could imagine. BUT when I look back, the best part of my childhood was having my dad as my mom. I wouldn't trade him for the world!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Monday - The Choir Concert!

I have mentioned previously that one of our favorite bands is The Choir. Their talent is exceptional. Their creativity and artistry is original. Their longevity is, well, long. Their first album was released in 1985 – “Voices in Shadows” – then called The Youth Choir. Some 27 years later they released their latest record: “The Loudest Sound Ever Heard.” With almost 3 decades of making music (my point is not to acknowledge their age…), There comes a respectable level of experience, perfection and just plain old good music.


We had the pleasure of seeing them live a couple of weeks ago, performing their “Chase the Kangaroo” tour. We had an exceptionally busy weekend (especially my amazing and gorgeous wife) and almost didn’t make it to the show. Perhaps it was a combination of needing a break from the busyness and my persistence in needing to experience and support this band at every opportunity at any cost (the show was free!!!), I don’t know…. But we made it – the two of us and 5 of the 6 kids!! And it was so rewarding! I have been following The Choir since 1991ish, this was only my second time seeing them perform – the first time with the 4-piece band.

The first time I saw them was almost two years ago as a wedding gift from my marvelous wife. We went to a cookout they had in Nashville, at Dan Michaels’ home. Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong played some of the “greats” on the patio with a small circle of fans. This is how cool the guys are: I went over to Dan, who was standing off to the side adding some commentary in between songs. I asked him if they would play a request – “About Love”, one of the top songs in the running for our first dance song at our wedding – just the night before. He said they would be glad to and he brought out his sax to play in that song just for us! (They all got a kick at the fact that we were there a day after our wedding just to meet and hear them. As if we didn’t have other things to do…..)

We saw Derri about a year later doing a side project with Mike Roe (Kerosene Halo). Before the show we went to talk to him, reminded him that we met at the cookout and he remembered us as the crazy couple who was there the day after our wedding. So last week, almost 2 years later, we get to see the full band play. It was such a good show. To hear Derri’s melodious voice, their skill in making music, and how they pull it altogether to make one harmonious sound is just captivating!!

Again, this is another way the band is way cool: After they played their set and went off stage awaiting the encore, I mustered up enough courage to go back stage and attempt to make a request. It was kinda funny, I pulled the curtain aside, stepped in and they were all standing right there – I almost ran over Derri as he was about to walk out. I humbly pled my case for them to play, you guessed it “About Love”. Perhaps a little shocked by my intrusion, they said ok, we’ll see. They ended the night with our favorite Choir song:

Sorry to call so late

The planet turned 4 times

You're on my mind but you're nowhere

In my world

Please kiss the little bird

God bless the cozy cage we share

You kill me

You thrill me

You threaten my dreams, girl

There's something wonderful about love

There's something wonderful about love

There's something lost about me with you

There's something blind about the chosen few

There's something wonderful about love

So, of course, after the show we hung around to say hello to the guys and introduce the kids. Derri recognized us right away, Steve and Dan knew they knew us from somewhere, and quickly remembered as we told them the story. They were excited that we brought the kids and took time to greet them all.

We were talking to Dan for a few minutes (showing off tattoos) when Matthias chimed in. He was really curious about this “funny looking” instrument that Dan played – curious enough to have the courage to ask him about it… Dan was so patient and kind to invite all the kids over to his “lyricon” to give them a little infomercial and demonstration. The kids were all very excited (as were we)!!

A lyricon is an electric saxophone that is shaped similarly to a clarinet. It is a pretty cool instrument (I think I need to have one…), you can change the sound to other instruments and even add in some neat effects. If you were to look up “lyricon” on wiki-pedia you would find a list of prominent lyriconists, and there in the list is none other than Mr. Dan Michaels!!

What an awesome group of guys!! But, don’t take my word for it. Check them out for yourselves. Whether you are young or “older”, there is something in their music for everyone. A “MUST” for any musical connoisseur! God has used the musical gifts he has given these guys to influence the Christian music scene for many years. The reach of their influence goes wide as they have worked with many many other artists. And Lord willing they will continue to do so for years to come.





Aaron

At Chili's after the show. The kids were begging to go to sleep without brushing teeth or putting on pjs




Side bar from the wife – My favorite lyrics to the song differ from aaron’s:

When you get home come spring

Wont you be glad to be mine

Just don’t laugh

Please don’t cry

Just say so



We started dating in the spring of 2010, and it would make sense to anyone who knows us well, why this is my favorite verse.



Monday, April 9, 2012

Music Monday - Snow Patrol Concert

My gracious wife was kind and merciful to give me a couple weeks off the assignment. Now, I’m back in full swing…


Venue oddity #1

Last Monday night, Victoria and I had the privilege of going into Atlanta to see Snow Patrol in concert - one of our favorite bands. They played at the Tabernacle, a really cool place for a concert, although it has it’s share of oddities (maybe I’ll do a post on concert venues soon).

There are a few qualities that make a band/musician truly great. For me one on the top of the list is how well do they sound live. And I am talking mostly about vocally. Anyone can sound good on a recording. With technology as advanced as it is, the most tone-def person can sound talented. It wouldn’t be too difficult to compile a list of singers who can’t really sing. I don’t wish to offend, so please work on your own list.


Gary Lightbody

A few who have accomplished this feat (in my humble opinion) would be Chris Martin of Coldplay, Karen Bergquist of Over The Rhine, Derry Daugherty of The Choir, Dave Matthews of (you guessed it…) The Dave Matthews Band amongst a few others. And now added to the list is Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. It takes talent and a unique quality these days for a singer to stand out amongst the masses. Most people can sing to some degree and a few of those can captivate an audience both on an album and live. Snow Patrol has been able to capture this ability.

I think most people would agree that if they are going to go to a concert they have certain expectations. One, to be entertained of course, but also they want to hear in person what they hear on their favorite CD. As a listener, if I enjoy a show then I will follow a band throughout their career. If the guy can’t sing in real life then no thanks. There are plenty of truly talented artists that I would rather support.

Victoria and I really enjoy going to shows. We try to go as often as possible, but with ticket prices as high as they are, we have to pass on some concerts. We felt Snow Patrol was worth the expense (although it wasn’t too high). We chose their hit song “Chasing Cars” to be the “first dance” song at our wedding. So, yea, they are a big deal to us.

We love music, and we love live music. As I mentioned, we go to shows as we can. We are fortunate for the next few months we have some great shows lined up: I took the boys to see the 77’s last month, we saw a friend play in downtown Woodstock (keep an ear out for Jonathon Peyton). We just saw Snow Patrol this past Monday, We are going to see OTR (Over The Rhine) in a couple weeks with some dear friends (two great shows this month!!). We have tickets to see Coldplay in july (our anniversary present to each other). We will have our eyes open to fill in the gaps in between. Sadly we will have to miss The Choir this year…

God has blessed us to be able to enjoy these great musicians in a live setting. Since He created music for our enjoyment, then concerts are just an extension of that gift. He is so kind.



Aaron

Preoccupying ourselves between acts!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obviously no Music Monday Post

Aaron has been attacked by the pollen on and off and feeling pretty yucky, so I gave him a break this week from his usual music post. I do want to talk about music though. One song in particular that has effected my life for almost 7 years, since the birth of my first biological son, and will probably effect our family for many more. It's "The Gospel Song". Maybe we started singing this to the kids because it was short... maybe it was just the first song that came to Aunt Amanda's mind one day... but what I do know is it is loved, it is truth, and it is gospel:

"Holy God in love became
perfect man to bear my blame.
On the cross He took my sin
by His death I live again."

Out of the many songs that had been sang to Matthias as a baby, this one was the most requested. Once Lorelai came along, then Jac, this just became "THE" song we sing. We sing it for bedtime, we sing it to calm crying babies and hurting boo boos, we sing it for fun. All six of the children now sing this song and I love it. I love that every time they think they are just singing a simple song the gospel is being rehearsed in their minds and resounding in their hearts.

Although this song has been sung for all of the children, I don't think any of them cherish it quite like Lorelai. As you can see in the picture, she would cuddle up, thumb in mouth and nasty corner in hand (and yes, she actually called it her nasty corner after hearing my dad call it that and referred to it endearingly that way. She would also offer for you to sniff her nasty corner as a sign of affection... but that's a different story.) Even Chandler, when we sang this song in church Sunday, looked around for Lorelai saying "it's Loli's song". When she was sick with a 104* fever last year all she wanted to do was listen to this song on repeat over and over for hours.

This is her song because of all of these reasons, this is our kids' song because it's in their hearts and minds, this is our song because it's truth. I pray this song, and the gospel truth it holds, is passed down from generation to generation in our family. Music is a gift from God and how wonderful for it to be used as a constant reminder of truth.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Music Monday - The Playlist

Do you have your music split up in playlists? Webster defines playlist as: “a list of recordings to be played by a radio station; also: a similar list used for organizing a personal digital music collection.” (Hey, don’t think a definition is unnecessary – there are likely some out there who aren’t informed) Today, I’m talking about the latter definition.


Playlists can be sorted in a ton of ways. You could do it the boring way and just divide them up by genre, like rock, jazz, 70’s, alternative , or my favorite “classic rock.” “Not that I have a problem with that.,,” – just saying. Creativity doesn’t come easily to some or perhaps they just don’t care. Here is where I’m conflicted. I don’t necessarily like things to be ordinary or predicable. However, some of my playlists are in desperate need of editing! And why, you ask, don’t you edit them? Time. Time is the enemy. –and expensive too. Can’t seem to find any on clearance… Time that is. I digress.

Currently, I have 16 playlists. Some may think 16 is a lot. I’m not really sure, but I figure it’s America; and if I want 98 playlists then I will . Here are some of my titles at random: Christmas, Christian tunes, 72310, UK favs, Carson’s list (my son), new, folk and easy. Oh, and my favorite: night time…. – we won’t discuss that one for the sensitive eyes and ears close by (use your imagination).

There are some that are on my iPhone at all times, ready for any occasion: Worship, Christian tunes, New, UK favs and 72310. 72310 is my anniversary date (to the most amazing woman in the world!!). These songs were our playlist for our reception. So they are special songs for us and quickly remind me of that wonderful day! the “new” list is recently downloaded artists and albums that I am getting to know and deciding if they make it to the “AC’s Favs” list. The obvious “UK favs” are some of my favorite UK bands: U2, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Snow Patrol, Adele and others.
The list that is in the most desperate need of editing is the “AC’s favs” list. It started out several years ago as a list of my favorite songs, or my favorite songs from a particular artist. So, not only do I not like things to be ordinary and predictable, I don’t like for things to take a long time. In my laziness, instead of taking a few minutes to add a couple songs from an album, I would just add the whole stinkin’ thing!! I haven’t added anything to this list in quite a while, but I currently have 689 songs, 4.66GBs and 1.9 days worth…. Factor in the narrow diversity with the quantity then you could easily see that it is just slightly excessive. Just a bit. Now if I worked the list the way I intended to then 689 songs wouldn’t seem that daunting –maybe it’s just me….

I really like the idea and organization of playlists. My laziness plague seems to get the best of me at times (a lot of times). How do you sort your playlists? Do you have a favorite and Are any in need of editing, or am I the only one with that problem? Do tell…

I would say that if music is a gift from God, playlists would be also! I mean, playlists are for our ease and enjoyment – and God is most satisfied with us when we are most satisfied in Him. I, for one, am satisfied when enjoying His gifts.



Aaron

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Music Monday? if we did the week backwards from saturday ...




Do you have any “first” memories? Like: your first car, house, job, kiss…? What about your first CD? My first CD was “More Miserable Than You’ll Ever Be” by the Seventy Sevens (aka the 77’s). Got it autographed too!! Now, as usual I tend to be a bit behind the times – I’m cheap and mildly afraid of new technology… I got the disk sometime early 1994. Phew, that was 18 years ago! Went to a concert with some buds, got rained on, bought a CD, got it signed, blah, blah, blah….


This post isn’t about that first CD (although a good one), but about the band – the 77’s. For the mere few of you who have ever heard of them, your mind is probably flooded with “remember when memories.” For the vast majority of you who are asking “who in the world are you talking about?,” it’s time to get with the program! This is one of the great bands who revolutionized the “Christian” music scene. They helped to expand our narrow selection of music and paved the way for a new style of Christian music – Christian alternative/rock.

The 77’s style of music is fresh and captivating – even after all these years. They are truly one of my favorite bands. Not just for nostalgia , but they truly are talented and unique. The music is timeless. One of my favorite albums is “Pray Naked” released in 1992. It’s old, but has the sound of a recently released album. It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years… Their first album “All Fall Down” came out in 1984 (It’s older than my wife). Their style would be rock ‘n roll with a taste of blues to keep it interesting.


So I bring them up today because I had the privilege of taking three of my boys to see them this past Saturday. They are doing a re-release tour of their “Sticks and Stones” album – another fine piece of work (you should track them down to see if they are playing near you)! Two of the band members are on the tour: front man Mike Roe and guitarist David Leonhardt. The show was really great. Very laid back and entertaining. Mike and David had some spurts of friendly banter mixed with some band history and stories behind the music. I would highly recommend seeing the show where you can see and hear firsthand the talent and artistry of the music. After all these years, they still play with heart, passion, skill and love for music. – and because, like all musicians, they need your support!


So, my boys…. I expected more excitement and enjoyment from them. But they are at the age where they are overly fearful that everyone in the room is watching their every move - Except chandler!
He was having a great time! He is the professional air-guitarist. He had the best time jamming with the band. After the show, one of the boys said he wanted to join the 77’s. “It would be so awesome, dad!” I am quite sure I enjoyed the show more than they did, but they’ll come around. And we have a new memory to share with each other.


Here’s the skinny: you should be listening to the 77’s. Any given album has a tasteful mix of melodious soft vocals and guitars, and also some loud edgy rock with some blues tossed in – something for every mood. You will not only be investing into your music collection, but investing into the Christian music industry. There is a hidden world of great music that you will never hear on Christian radio.

Take a step of faith, invest, and share!! It makes everyone happy! This is just one band that has allowed me the ability to listen to their music and pull out memories from 20 years ago when I was in college AND memories from last week with my boys. What’s your favorite CD to listen to when you want to bring back great memories?



Aaron



Socio-economics and the body Christ

Such a big title for a simple stay-at-home mom. But as I find myself learning more about what it looks like to build real, genuine community;  race, social standing, and monetary status seems to play quite a silent but significant role. How many times have you thought about inviting someone over to your home, but were plagued with anxiety that what you have pales in comparison to what they have? Or maybe the thought that you hesitate getting together with someone because you think you probably won't have much in common with them? If we were all honest, most of us have these thoughts. I know I do. So where does the Gospel come into play? For so long I thought these were just normal feelings, which make them okay feelings. The truth is, they are NORMAL feelings, but sin is NORMAL too. Point is - normal does not equal okay.

I know that the word Gospel is equated with "good news" but I realized recently that gospel practically means reconciliation. God sent Christ to reconcile us to Him. That's the Gospel, or good news. We can be reconciled! So what does it mean for us to apply the Gospel in building community, even when our socio-economics are different from those around us? I'm not going too deeply into this, because I'm sure there are many people more qualified to speak these truths. But I do want to share what the Lord is showing me. The definition for reconcile is to bring into agreement or harmony; to make compatible or consistent. This is what Christ's blood did for us, brought us into agreement and harmony with God, making us compatible and consistent with His character and truths. Now knowing what Christ's blood did should make it all the easier to know what to do when we think or feel like we are better or worse than anyone else. God sent Christ to reconcile ALL people to Himself, we have MUCH in common. As christians we are called to be "Christ-like". In an unbelieving world, where very little seems to be in agreement or harmony and where reconciliation seems old-fashioned, our Christ-likeness shines when the goal is to reconcile with ALL who are in our lives.

So the next time you think, as I do often, that there is just no point to spending time with someone who is different than you, or you are anxious about your home being good enough to invite someone in, please remember this: you have in common a Creator who sent His son to crush sins grip on you, to free you from bondage, and to accept you as sons and daughters! Everyone shares that in common.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Walking on Eggshells - When your baby won't stop crying

For the past, almost, twelve months everyone has been stuck in the pergatory of walking on eggshells. When Jac arrived last April our house went from a home to a prison of sorts. Maybe more for me than anyone else. We catered to his every cry for multiple reasons. I knew he was going to be my last and he is the first child I have been able to stay home with, so I wanted to enjoy and take in every second of it. With every wimper he made I was afraid that the echo through our small home would awake the other five children, so I would bring him to bed with me.

Jac also has not been the greatest sleeper, being erratic at best. He is just now starting to sleep through the night (other than a month from 3-4 months where we were in heaven). So I wince with every door close, giggle, arguement, exclaimation, etc of everyone else in the house because after not sleeping at night and not getting anything done, I'm just plain tired. Tired of hearing the noise and the screaming to be picked up. Tired of him hanging on my side. Please don't get me wrong... I LOVE my baby. But does the rest of our family really have to suffer for his sake?

So now, there are certain times of day that he is in his crib... asleep or screaming is really up to him. An hour in the morning, one in the afternoon, and 9 hours at night. Is it really too much to ask from an 11 month old? I'm not sure. Sometimes I feel like it's a little much to ask for from me (and everyone else) to listen to him cry when he decides to be stubborn. But just like everything else, God gives us the grace for this stage and "this too shall pass". We've tried everything from Babywise to following his lead with little progress. I'm assuming this is just the Lord's way of teaching us to fully rely on Him. Any and all suggestions are welcome, but be gentle. On little to no sleep my feelings are a bit fragile today :-) Encouragements always welcome!

Victoria

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crazy busy - Crazy blessed!

I promised I would catch you up on our crazy life, so here I am. My husband was gracious enough to leave me with only one - very easy - child, so I can actually do some things I've been meaning to do. Since the first of the year we have been in a whirlwind of sorts. For starters We have a birthday almost every month of the year.

Since we have six kids we do birthday parties in threes. This year Chandler, Carson, and Jac get birthday parties. Two of these are pretty hard. Chandler has downs syndrome. He is one of the most precious, sweet, gentle, go-with-the-flow type kids you'll ever meet (although part of that I think he's picked up from Aaron's gentle spirit). With a personality like that mixed with limited verbal expression it's hard to plan a birthday party. Usually our kids will tell us a million and one things that they want, but Chandler just wants chicken (his obsession), daddy, and aunt Kir (Aaron's sister). When I ask what cake he wants, it's simply lightning mcqueen. You may wonder why I'm complaining... seems pretty simple and easy. Chandler spends most of his life doing what EVERYONE else wants. He plays what the other kids play, watches what the other kids watch, like what the other kids like, and say what the other kids say. My mission is to help him find his voice. And I think, even if for just one day a year, he should be able to get exactly what HE wants, and to find that out it takes time. Lots of time. Pictures of birthday cakes and birthday ideas and toys and a thousand yes or no questions - which are all completely worth it when his face lights up because he knows he has been heard. 11 days and counting.

Then there is Jac's birthday... which I am sure he doesn't really care about BUT I always do first birthdays big. First birthdays and golden birthdays are pretty special. So apparently I have come up with an idea (Billy Goats Gruff) that is no where to be found, so I am decorating from scratch. See, Jac eats paper. I'm pretty sure he might like paper more than food... and no, he doesn't have PICA. So it just seemed natural to call him a billy goat... sometimes a Jacer goat. 26 days and counting.

My amazingly beautiful "little sister" is getting married and I get to do the decorations! I LOVE weddings, I LOVE decorating, so naturally I LOVE wedding decorating. I am so honored to get to be a part of her special day in such a big way... which also means, I'm pretty scared to screw it up in a HUGE way. She's a really easy bride so there isn't pressure from her. It's in my own head. This is her one and only wedding day. Photographed and remembered forever. When the wedding is over I'll post pictures and DIY's from the wedding, but until then it's a surprise until it's unveiled. 36 days and counting.

Apart from all the party planning there are the regular everyday challenges that come from being a part of a blended family. There are limitations I have on sharing this part of our lives on such a public platform, but sometimes it's just plain hard. Thankfully God has surrounded us with AMAZING friends, and Aaron and I have such a strong commitment to each other, that even through the trials and attacks we see God's love and peace in abundance.

We've also been blessed enough to be a part of a church plant. Just 8 months ago Aaron and I left a church that I had been a member of for 6 years and he had been a member of for 10 years. God had us both on the same page, but there weren't many things about our decision that was clear. We knew we were to go, we knew we were to use the giftings and desires that Christ has placed in us to serve our community and the body of Christ, but we had no clue where that was or what it looked like. We just stepped out in faith, and boy did God show off! We immediately got plugged into a small 5 year old church in canton that we loved. We began building relationships, learning from others there, and serving. It was great and we were ready to become members after about 4 months. The holidays came and time was rare, so we were just kind of waiting to become members around the first of this year. What seemed like waiting for our plan turned into waiting for God's plan. Mid December we were invited to a meeting about a local church plan less than 5 mins away from us. We knew some of the people and had rejected the idea before, but again God placed Aaron and I on the same page. We loved the church we were in and were so ready to become members, but neither of us could shake the feeling that we needed to commit to, at least, a few months in this church plant. So we spoke to the pastor at IK (Isaac's Keep - the canton church) and much to our surprise he encouraged us to try out something that was focused on our immediate community and gave us the freedom to still join them for anything they have going on.

So with the blessing of the friends we had made, we began in the church plant of Sojourn Woodstock on January 14th. Church plants are crazy busy. Everyone is getting to know each other and knitting into one anothers lives which takes a lot of time, but also encouraging one another to live with our local community and neighbors, which takes even more time. We are blessed to have some pretty awesome neighbors who share children of the same age in common with us. Then we spend a lot of time maintaining our friendships with dear friends from IK and the church that we originally left.

Basically... our calendar is at max capacity most months. Between mom dates and dad dates with our kids, dating each other, sunday mornings, community group, ladies get togethers, mens get togethers, family night, birthday parties, weddings, community building, home improvements, keeping in touch, and just our regular life of having six kids in a blended family, it's crazy. REALLY crazy. But I trust The One who holds it all in His hands as I'm asked to just be diligent and a good steward of what He's given. I'm thankful beyond words for the MANY amazing friendships He has blessed us with. I'm blessed to get to live this out with my best friend every day, and I'm overwhelmed that in God's mercy He has chosen me to give all this to.

Victoria

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Music Monday post... on Thursday

This is Victoria.... I do realize today is Thursday and NOT Monday. My dear husband wrote this post on Monday, but I dropped the ball in "approving" his work for publishing. (and yes, his work does have to be approved first, although he approves mine as well). It has been crazy busy at our house - which I promise I'll catch you up on soon. So, without further ado, your Music Monday post... on Thursday.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday... I'm back!

Yea… so, about last week… Well, life got a little out of hand. My apologies for my absence.


I was thinking earlier about what this week’s topics should be, and decided to talk about my kids and music – one child in particular. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, music of some fashion is usually playing in the house somewhere. The continual submersion of the kids in music has definitely had its effects. The kids (all 6 of them) love music…. I mean really!! I love the fact that I can heavily influence their taste in music. I know, enjoy it while I can. It won’t be long before they get to the stage of hating whatever it is that I like…

So, yes, the kids all love music and singing. It is pretty cool to hear one of them say “hey, dad, isn’t that Coldplay?” Or “that’s U2, I really like them!” or “hey can you play the ‘dead man lying on the carpet’ song (Jars of Clay)?” And in the car, I get “Dad, can you turn it up?” It is really great! We have some that sing really well – and some who can’t hold a tune for their life - that’s ok – “make a joyful noise,” right?!? We also have 5 of the 6 in piano lessons. Two of them show some promise. The others, well…….

One of the kids I want to spend a little more time on is Chandler. Chandler is one of the sweetest, most affectionate kids you would meet. He is almost 11 and mostly quiet, mostly. He generally goes with the flow, creating very little waves in the family pool. But the two things he does get excited about are the Chipmunks and music!! Chandler loves to sing and play the air guitar. He can rock out the air guitar – the singing part, not so much. However, he puts his whole heart into it and you cannot help but to join in.

Chandler has Down’s syndrome. The poor guy has had chronic ear infections most of his life and is on his third set of ear tubes. The ear infections have affected his hearing, which has affected his speech. Over the past couple years; he has made drastic improvements in his speech. Which is so great for him and us – he so often gets frustrated trying to tell us something we can’t understand. Context clues are priceless! These major setbacks are minor to him. He goes on with life as if all is as it should be. We could all learn from his sense of contentment.

Chandler seems particularly fond of worship music (and Jason Marz!!). How much he understands on a spiritual level, I am not quite sure about, but he does seem to have some spiritual connection. He loves to worship!! He stands there, consumed by the music and presence of God totally uninhibited. On many occasions, you could see him at church swaying or tapping his foot – to no particular beat, raising his hands with his face heavenward just singing his soul out. I don’t know what he sees or what he is saying, but I do believe he is worshiping the Creator and indeed making a joyful noise. Maybe he sees and hears something we can’t because our minds are too clouded by the corruption of this world. Maybe God is speaking to him in a language only he understands. One thing I am certain of is that Chandler is genuine in his love for singing to god and for not being concerned how he looks or sounds – another lesson we could learn from this innocent soul.

as always, music is truly a gift from God for our enjoyment and for his glory. Its amazing how God uses so many things to teach us. Chandler is one of those kids who could teach us much about forgiveness, contentment, gentleness, and love without condition. What do you learn from your children or other kids? Do you learn a better appreciation for music or worship? Do you influence their choice of music in a more positive way?



Until next week (promise I’ll be here)…

Aaron

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's day is every day, or every day is valentine's day...

Almost a week later I'm talking about Valentine's day. Yep. That's me. I'm pretty much late to everything and completely unprepared. So all of my friends on facebook were showing their pictures of flowers and gifts, and telling all about what their wonderful husbands did for them, but not once did I see a couple post abou the huge arguement they had as they walked out the door, or the conflict that lingered as they ate their food. We will be that couple who discloses the reality. Maybe your life is perfect. Mine isn't. But that is quite alright with me - most of the time - because someone has to be real and help everyone else feel better :-)

On Valentine's Day Aaron bought me my fav breakfast from Starbucks and had candy and beautiful flowers waiting on the dining room table. But the day started with a conflict from the previous day looming and didn't feel quite as romantic as it should... which, as a brainwashed by hallmark wife, made me even more angry. My hubby left for work and I off to a party with the kids. All in all, the day was starting off promising. We had plans for that night to go painting at a local venue and maybe grab something to eat. No big deal. Well, this is how the series of events went from the time we reconnected at home mid afternoon:

I never called the paint place to check availability, thinking no one else would go painting. I was wrong. Class booked. I'm angry because hubby didn't plan anything although he wanted to go painting. Checked back a couple of hours later... there was a cancelation. 7pm painting - scheduled. Called our local favorite restaurant Magnolia House, one reservation left, happens to be after our painting class. Reserved. Everyone's happy. God is good. 6:55pm leaving the house I can't find my wallet, husband lifts up console to help me search, piles of stuff falls of console, I'm annoyed. No wallet. Big mess. Arguement insues. We leave in seperate cars. Meet up at 7:20 because really, we love eachother like crazy and can't stand to be away from each other for too long. Really we are that sappy. Too late for painting. We sit and talk, and talk, and communicate (which is completely different from talking). It's good. 9:30pm rolls around and our reservation with it. We sit and look at menu... apparently they are having a vday special which is twice as much as we are willing to spend and nothing that we like from their regular menu. We leave. It's 10pm - we try favorite sushi place. Closed. I'm discouraged. Just want to go home. Aaron won't let it go. Failure is not an option. 10:30pm - Taco Mac.

Once we got to Taco Mac I figured it was better than nothing. After being there for 30 mins I realized our night couldn't have turned out better. We talked, and laughed. Had our favorite beers and favorite meals and reminised about dating and our times at Taco Mac. Something about those old memories triggers new emotion. 12:30am - No arguements. Just happy, and blessed. Love him more everyday, because he's here every day. Not because of what he gives me, or how romantic he can be, but because when so many in our society shirk their responsibility, he takes it all on and is in the thick of it every.single.day.

There is something to be said for simple. There is something to be said for a lack of expectation. So for all of you who didn't have a perfect holiday, please know you aren't alone. And your marriage, hopefully, is stronger for it. And for those who did have a perfect holiday, I truly am glad. But when the occasion comes when you don't - take comfort that you're not alone.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Monday - Valentine's edition

Last week I mentioned music drawing my wife and I together. So I thought in honor of Valentine’s Day I would talk about how our love for music helped to kindle our love for each other. First, a brief history: Victoria and I both come from broken marriages. We went to the same church and were in the same care group while previously married. Yea, that’s still weird to think about… But God is forever in control of all things and works to redeem what has been broken. I watched Victoria walk through her divorce a couple years before mine, I contacted her to ask her some questions and yadi yadi yada… here we are two years later!!


One of our first conversations was about the music we liked, and many, many conversations to follow. Our musical tastes are mirror images of each other. Great bands like U2, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, David Grey, Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, train, Dave Matthews and Jason Marz to name a few on the secular front. And as far as the Christian scene goes we talked about David Crowder, Jars of Clay, Newsboys, DC talk, Amy Grant (just kidding, now pay attention!). We shared with each other how music has always been the constant friend, shared memories triggered by certain groups or songs – more on that in a moment.

We were and are a musical match made in heaven. Not only did we have so much in common, but we also exposed each other to new/different artists we never knew about. I had the joy of introducing Victoria to some greats like Over The Rhine, The Choir, The Violet Burning and the Proclaimers. Through her I learned about Matt Wertz, Damien Rice, Seryn, Ben Harper and I gained a better appreciation for worship music.

Our first official date was going to see Over The Rhine at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. OTR is one of our favorite bands and memory triggers. Another trigger band for us is The Choir. I have been a fan of theirs since the early 90’s – never had the opportunity to see them live. My wife, quick to observe and plan, bought us tickets to hang out with the band at a cook out at one of their homes in Nashville as a wedding present. I love that woman!! The day after our wedding we drove from Murphy, NC to Nashville (about 4 hours) to spend the afternoon with Derri, Steve, Dan, and Mark. It was really awesome!! Victoria has made a name for herself as giving the greatest gifts – this will always be in the running for first place.

I had the task of creating a playlist for our reception. Not as easy as you may think, my friends. I got it down to 72 songs totaling 5 hours of playtime. We only needed about 2 hours… It was really difficult for me to narrow it down because by that time we had so many songs that meant something to us as a couple. And I couldn’t sell the idea of a 5 hour reception….

For us Music is an escape from the mundane chores and trials of everyday life. The songs that really click, or have an impact on our lives, have a way of speaking to us and, often, for us. I am usually at a loss for words, so I often quote lyrics to speak for me – on a good day I’ll even sing them! But usually only to Victoria and my kids. Come on, a guy has to have some reservations….

Let me challenge you to remember those love songs and listen to them with your special Valentine! remember music is truly a gift from God for our enjoyment and for his glory.



Aaron





Monday, February 6, 2012

Music Monday


© 2011, Denis Marsili. All rights reserved
 My amazing wife asked me the other day if I wanted to be a guest poster on her blog (like one who writes posts, not a printed image on paper that one might tape to a wall).  I am was very excited when she said that she wanted me to write about how music influences our family.  I’m sure I’ll have some background info on some different groups/artists, and I will very likely highlight some new music as well as some good oldies - I mean, how could I not? - but the emphasis will be on the significance of music in our lives, and how it influences our heart, soul and mind.  So, here we go…
Music has played an important part in my life since I was very little (and that was a long time ago).  I can remember listening to The Bill Gather Trio and Buck and Dottie Rambo on mom and dad’s 8-track player (yup, I’m that old).  And yes, my iTunes is playing now (listening to Iron and Wine).  Side note:  Think about how music has changed over the past couple decades (yea, when you can talk about something in the past “decades”, you are getting old….).  You go from radio to 8-tracks and vinyl to cassettes.  I remember getting my first Walkman – a portable tape/am/fm player - with big earphones; way before they were cool.  By then I was listening to Michael W. Smith and Wayne Watson, Stryper, The Imperials and sneaking around a copied tape of Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album.  Anyways…  Then dawns the “digital age”, CD’s flood the music scene with great sound and compactibility.  Some of you may still remember those.  Now we are in the age of mp3’s and iTunes and iPods and Pads with a gazillion gigs.  I can listen to anything from Aaron Shust to Young the Giant.  I think I have around 18 days of straight music.  If you think I am a bit obsessed, well, then you just may be right. Ok, side note is over…
So, I love music.  If it were up to me music would be playing all the time.  If it isn’t playing somewhere, then it’s certainly playing in my head.  Do I play any instruments, you may ask.  Well, only if my radio is considered an instrument.  I have several instruments, just can’t seem to find the time to learn to play any of them.  That’s ok.  That’s not where God has me right now… maybe sometime in the future.  So, for now, I lean heavily on the gifts and talents of others to get my musical fix. 
In talking about how music has influenced me and my family, I guess a good place to start would be where it all started.  As I mentioned listening to 8-tracks is as far back as I can remember.  My sister and I would sing our heart out and spin around and around on the blue carpet in our living room.  Music has the power to knit our lives together.  Those moments with my sister were the foundation for our relationship later on as teenagers when we would drive down the highway or anywhere blaring Midnight Oil, U2 or The Proclaimers and singing like we were rock stars!!  We weren’t always best friends, we fought like, well, like siblings often do, but there was always good music to unite us once again. 
My parents weren’t supporters of the contemporary music of the ‘80’s, but they would gladly accept Fox 97 – all oldies all the time.  I inherited some of my uncle’s old Beach Boys records and just about wore them out.  As I could scrounge up $5 to by a cassette at K-mart I would expand my Beach Boys collection and Mom and I would harmonize in the car all day long.  If Dad was in the right mood, we could lure him in with The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun”.  We’d have the family quartet singing with the windows down and to the amusement of all who have passed by.  We even sang as a family in church a few times – phew, that’s a story for another day….
I look forward to sharing more about how music influences our family now. How the kids love to sing and listen to their favorites as loud as possible and how music played its part in drawing my wife and I together.  So much of life is laced with the effects of good music.  It is truly a gift from God for our enjoyment and for his glory. 

P.S. – its 12:11 and I am past my deadline.  Please have mercy as I work, have 6 kids and am plagued with a horrible case of procrastination…

Aaron