Saturday, December 20, 2008

All I Need Is A Sunrise

I woke up this morning to the sound of "Da-DEEEEeEEeeEEeee!"  Daniel was awake and ready to go at 7:15.  Unfortunately for me I was wide awake until after 2am last night.  I watched Discovery Channel for a while because I'm 33 and find it interesting.   Plus, I'm obviously still on "road time."  And since Sarah's on Infant Duty, I'm on Toddler Duty.

So I came downstairs with Daniel this morning, made a quick cup of coffee for myself (or 2), took my morning meds with a swig of OJ, got Daniel some oatmeal and OJ, and sat down in the living once he was done.  The Christmas lights were on, it was still dark outside since it was raining, and I played a couple episodes of Sunrise Earth that I have saved on the TV while I read a little.   One hour of HD footage of some of the most magnificent landscapes during sunrise.  No music, no narration, just the sound of the wind, water, morning birds and any other wildlife that may be near.   It's quite the peaceful way to wake up.  

It actually made me miss the road.  Usually we only see loading docks and dressing rooms, but if we plan well, we actually get to see some of this incredible world we live in.  
So I'm getting ready to go out on a little Spring Tour.  We're still looking for dates to fill, and many of you ask me if I'd visit your area.  The answer is "Yes, I'd love to!"  But we kinda need to be officially brought in by a promoter.  So, if you're interested, have your church or school (or a collaborative effort of a few churches/schools!) give my booking agents a call!   It will just be myself and my guitar player, Scotty, we'll have a little Storyteller/Worshipful evening, and I'll bring my camera and take a few pictures of your town!  ;)

Hope to see you!
a

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Baby Jesus Is In The Car

My absolute favorite Christmas "Special" to watch on TV is called "The Very First Noel".  It hasn't reached the same level of popularity as the Charlie Brown Christmas Special...which was my favorite until I had kids and realized that they called each other "stupid" the whole time.  Kids pick up on that.  Too bad.  I still watch it. 

Anyhow, I bought The Very First Noel, which is a 25 minute, computer animated "Instant Classic" about the 3 wise men's journey to find the Christ child.  The music is superb, the animation is by the same team who did the Curious George Movie.  Good stuff, Biblical storytelling. 

It's my little boy's favorite Movie.  In General.  Christmas or not.  Except he calls it, "Baby Jesus" or "BeeBee Teasis?"  I include the question mark because he's always asking for it to be played.  We limit his TV time, but when it's time, it's Baby Jesus.   It just lends itself to some pretty funny things said around the house, like this morning.  I needed to run some errands.

"Daniel, let's go for a ride!" I offer.
"Beebee Teasis?" he asks expectantly.
"Yes, you can watch Baby Jesus.  Sarah? Is Baby Jesus in the car?" I call out.
"Inside I think!", she shouts from upstairs.
"Daniel, I think Baby Jesus is in the house.  Let's look."  The search begins.
"ah Beebee Teasis go?!?" Daniel asks, about to give up.
"I don't know, buddy, let's check the car, come on buddy, I think Baby Jesus is in the car."

Baby Jesus was in the car.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"GOD HAS COME TO EARTH" The Back Story

The following is taken from Tyndale's "One Year Book of Hymns" where I discovered the old Christmas Carol "All Praise To Thee, Eternal Lord" whose lyrics I used for the verses (minus the old English vernacular) and where i also found "I Am Not Skilled To Understand"

"When God clothed Himself in human flesh that first Christmas, He revealed Himself to us in a new way, bridging the infinite chasm between creature and Creator.  Over the centuries following Christ's ascension, however, the church created a new chasm between God and man.  It shrouded God in mystery, relegating Bible study to the monastery, theology to the memorization of Latin phrases, and hymn singing to the choir loft.  Martin Luther sought to change this, translating the Bible, the catechism, and hymns into German-the language of his people.  This allowed everyone to hear God's Word directly and to express praise in their own tongue. 

This Christmas hymn appeared originally in Latin and has been attributed to Gregory the Great of the sixth century.  Despite Luther's disagreements with the Roman church, he realized that its hymns and traditions contained much of value.  Luther's translation of this Latin hymn illustrates his mission to make seeking and worshiping God an activity of the common person."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN...


Yes, Tis the season where we commemorate the birth of God In the Flesh, but every year for the rest of my life, when December comes around I will also be celebrating the birth of another child.  Last night, 8 pound 20 inch Nicholas Michael was born into the Shust Family.

Long story short, we left the house at 2:33AM, arrived in the room at 2:55 and Nicholas was crying by 3:18!  His uncle Nick (pictured above), after whom he's named (who also shares the name of my Grandfather killed in WWII) came by at 5am, and we were able to introduce the Nicks to each other.  I sent my Parents a picture they had to unscramble to figure out the name.  









My Dad got it first.  Maybe because it's now the name of his dad, a son and a grandson.  He knows those letters!   

Here are some photos from the day: hope you enjoy them and Thank you for ALL of the Congrats and the well wishes!  They are MOST appreciated!  We feel loved!

The latest Shust Family of Four (all three boasting 2 boys each)








Daniel Nicholas (Patriarch), Daniel Nicholas, Nicholas Michael and Carole Ann (Matriarch)








Sarah introducing my two sons.








Daniel holding his little brother for the first time. Nicko looks scared.








What Philly's known for...besides Cheesesteaks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

GOD HAS COME TO EARTH

In 2006 I thanked my listeners with a free download of O Come O Come Emmanuel.
In 2007 I did the same with a quiet version of Silent Night.
And for 2008, I with the help of Mr Martin Luther himself wrote a song that I call "God Has Come To Earth" which is yours for free, we're not even going to ask for your email and zip code this time. (my favorite submission was from jjj@rrrrr.kk with zip code "qwert". We won't be contacting them to let them know when we're in the area)

I started writing this chorus years ago and thought it just screamed of Christmas. I wanted a chimey melody like bells that would be reminiscent of an angelic proclamation. I loved the chorus, but as always, every time I tried to write verses, I just laughed at their silliness. That's why I'm learning to like the art of co-writing. Especially with people who have already died. They never argue with my ideas. Martin Luther wrote a Christmas Carol around 1500 called "All Praise To Thee Eternal Lord" that compares and contrasts the Powerful King that Christ was, in charge of The Universe, to the tiny baby He became in the next moment. The words are powerful. So I snagged them. :)

I'll write more about the background of the song soon: but for now, Enjoy it! and Ask Your Local Radio Station to give it a Spin! Go ahead, don't be shy, give them a call! ;)

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE ON ITUNES (free offer only available in 2008)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More About Stars


Every night before my little boy crawls into bed and after all the bedtime routine is done, we take him to the bathroom one more time and I run into his room with my flashlight and go around to every one of the sticky glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and make sure each gets a good long beam of light, so that when we tuck him in and the lights go off, he gets the most amazing 'night sky' I can give him.   I take so much pleasure preparing it night after night after night, knowing that he'll love it.  

Tonight as I balanced precariously on the edge of his mattress, reaching for that one far off star for the hundredth time, I thought, "I wonder if God didn't take similar pleasure when He created the stars so long ago, knowing that one day, I would stare at them"  

I believe that every shimmering star, every sunset, every Spring blossom, every Autumn leaf and each quiet snowfall was designed for the delight of His children which, in turn, leads to His Glory.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stars Will Fall...(even if we're not looking)

One of the new songs I've written (this one with Jason Ingram) is called Stars Will Fall.  The theme is, in a nutshell, that when we are at the end of our rope, there is power in calling Jesus' name.  "Stars will fall like rain, all the heavens and the earth will start to shake, every mountain will be moved and cast away at the mention of Your name".  Now that I have preliminary copies of the recording, I played it for my parents when they were over last week, and this morning my Mom called me to tell me she was in bed last night, looking out her picture window which gives her an incredible view of the night sky and the stars were especially bright.  She told me that my song was traveling through her head at the moment she saw a bright shooting star race across the sky from one end to the other.   She was still relishing that moment and hoping for another when, lo and behold (I've never actually ever typed those words before) there shot another star! 

She wondered how many shooting stars actually take place on average, but we are just too busy with what's down here to notice.  

It's not to hard to glean some lesson out of that.  God performs miracles, large and small, all around us, everyday, maybe right in front of our faces.  But unless we 'lift our eyes', chances are we'll miss them. 

Paul Baloche said it: "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see you"
Bebo Norman said it: 
"I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb.
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer of the oceans raging wild.
I will lift my eyes to the Healer hurt I hold inside.
I will lift my eyes...to You."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Mr. Shust Pet Peeve: Bad Driving.

Warning: No Spiritual Application Found Within This Blog!

I just drove across the street to pick up a case from storage.  As I was driving in my turning lane, protected by a solid white line, a driver, who obviously wanted to be in front of me, laid heavily on the horn because I didn't let her in.  I wasn't expecting anyone to even try since no turn signals were on and...it was a solid white line.   Anyhow, we both turned right and I waited for my dotted white line so I could make the immediate Left I needed to make, and she crossed Another solid white line and was trying to pass me!  Again, no signal, although mine had been on.   She wasn't happy.  

On the way home (this is a 50 yard drive, people) i saw people blocking intersections, trying to pass other cars in a line of stopped traffic with only One lane (double parking basically), holding up traffic in a left turning lane because they decided to cross 3 lanes of traffic and turn Right instead of left & AT the green light.  

I'm a little amazed.  And if my family had been in the car with me, I'd probably be pretty upset.  Cause I was almost just in 5 accidents in as many minutes, and I only drove across the street.

Maybe everyone should have to take the written Driver's Test every 4-5 years or something. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Birth of a Song

Writing a song is a lot like having a kid I think.  

Sometimes when you don't plan it, a song is conceived.  Maybe you hear a phrase someone says in a movie, or at church, or soaped on the back of a car, and you think, "Wow, that would make a great song!"  You scribble it down on the nearest piece of paper, or sing it into your phone's recording device, or leave yourself a message on your answering machine: you can't forget how this little melodic and lyrical idea goes!

The pregnancy is the development of the song; what it will look like, how the verses will support the chorus, is the chorus universal enough that it can be sung over and over?  Does the singer progress throughout the course of the song?  Is the listener taken on a journey somewhere?  How with this be conveyed musically?  Fast? Slow? High? Low? Rocker? Ballad? Steak? Salad? (what?)

The labor starts when you get in the studio and have to make a final decision on how this song will be forever remembered!  Pick the instruments and the people playing them.  Choose a tempo and a key, decide when to come in and when to drop out, when to 'get big' and when to quiet down. 

The Delivery is when a song has been completed and those closely involved in the entire process can listen to it and proudly announce, "It's a Song!"  We marvel at what took so long to develop, and hold it high, sometimes a little too high, but most people are a little biased when it comes to being proud of their own! ;)

Then you leave the hospital and take the baby home, and there's a period of time where you have your new baby all to yourself.  I've heard 4 of my new songs tonight completed for the first time, and I've probably listened to them a hundred times already (not really, but close) but they haven't been released to 'the world' yet.  

Then the Presentation of the baby, whether it's that first Sunday back at church, or when everyone comes over to the house (because you let them).  That's kinda like the Album Release.  Now the world can look, and listen, and tell you what they think about whether or not they like your baby!  

But those of you who are parents (of babies or songs) know that you can't help but love your own kids. 

Self Control as an Art

I've been watching the John Adams series with Sarah the past few nights.  One scene jumped out at me and frankly made me rethink most every other scene in the mini-series so far.  Adams was just appointed the U.S. Ambassador to England shortly after helping spearhead America's independence from England.  (He was highly respected but on 'thin ice' in Great Britain)  He was meeting with the King for the first time.  One on One, mano a mano, and John had been coached on how he must approach the king.  Enter the room and bow, a very low bow, hat off, hands extended majestically, legs crossed as if you just launched a bowling ball.  Then halfway into the room he'd have to do it again, then once more as he would approach His Grace.   All three were performed awkwardly, John was a Massachusetts man, who didn't have time for such frivolity.  He hated it and saw it as silly.  But he did it anyway, and won the respect of the King.   

Even though his character is depicted as speaking his mind more freely than other people (often to his detriment) he still showed restraint more times than he felt was necessary.   Then he'd go home and vent his frustrations to his wife and "best of friends" Abigail.  

We as Christians (and mankind in general) are called to self-control (Gal 5:23) and the guarding of our own tongues (James 3).  While it's good to speak our minds about what we believe, I simply found it fascinating to see portrayed a culture that esteemed self control as a high virtue.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Missouri Again


We had two good shows this weekend.  Kansas City and Forsyth, Missouri.  Actually the Kansas City show was IN Kansas.  not Missouri.  For those of you who think I just stated the obvious, check your map

The show last night in Forsyth was free to the public because a church member footed the bill for the entire event, which just brings the people out!  The place was packed!  Standing room only, they even opened up the back doors and set up chairs in the Foyer.  Obviously the fire marshall did not come, but the rest of the town did!  Anyhow, it was a really fun night.  I didn't lose my voice, no strings broke, (well, Rico broke a string in Franny's set, but fixed it by mine, sorry Fran)

It was a long drive home this morning.  I actually didn't make it home until 2pm, had dinner with Sarah, Daniel and my parents in the back yard; crab legs and sunset.  We have a Korean supermarket across the street: cheap seafood.  You just have to be able to either speak Korean or point well.   Guess which one I do.  

Anyway, good to be home.  Only one more show, then I'm home waiting for a baby to be born!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This Is As Political As I Get


I figured I'd better post this before the results of tonight are announced.  No matter who you voted for.  No matter who you believe is the better option.  I pray you find rest in these words found in the Bible:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God."
Romans 13:1

God Bless

Monday, November 3, 2008

Something New Under The Sun?

As a professional artist, something that I've struggled a lot with in the last few years is creating art that is deemed "artistic".  Go figure.  The world is full of nay-sayers who are quick to speak their minds about how a song is a "sad excuse for music" and frankly, people can be downright ugly and hurtful about what some artists have created.  (some toward me, some toward my colleagues) I'm not sure when that becomes acceptable: ugly critiquing that is.  I would never tell an 8th grader that the clay pot she just fired in the kiln was a sad excuse for pottery... "if you could even call it that!"  That would just be mean.  I guess the day I put my products on shelves for sale, I subjected myself to public opinion and scrutiny.  I just wish it weren't ugly. 
So I started thinking about the reviews that seem to flood the industry on the subject of "nothing new".  They go something like, "This artist needs to reinvent him/herself" or "is resting on the successes of their past" or simply "not original songwriting".  

Here's what I thought:  I kind of liken songwriting and the entire CD creation process to painting.  The Renaissance developed a style of realistic painting that is still mimicked today. Or take Bob Ross for example.  People LOVE his stuff.  What if he completely changed his style before he passed away to something completely...'original'.  What if his "happy trees" became "angry trees" in the name of reinvention?

I think people who review and critique professionally getting tired to listening to 5,000 albums per week in the same genre.  I'd get tired of hearing the same thing too.  So while they may want to hear something different, radio stations play exactly what their listeners want to hear.   If you're not hearing what you want to on the radio, and want to listen to things that are unique and original and quirky and cool...there are tons of great Indy artists out there making some pretty unique music.    Soak up some "Abstract Art".

I can promise you that everyone I know, who's making music, is trying to write the best songs they can, and create the best music we know how.  So don't believe it when anyone says that we gave up, or that our songwriting is struggling, like I read someone say about some friends of mine this morning.   We are giving our all for the pleasure of the King of Kings!  And when He becomes the priority, man's opinion, while it can still hurt, becomes unimportant. 


Monday, October 27, 2008

In The Studio

It's Midnight in the East, but it's only 11pm here in Nashville.  I woke up at 5am and drove up to Franklin, TN actually to meet up with Jason Ingram & Rusty Varenkamp to finally begin recording my third album!  The plan today was to meet up with three homies here in Nashville and record drums, bass and electric for 4 songs.  Jason Gregory played the bass, Ken Lewis played the drums and Adam Lester is currently playing guitar.  Adam came late because he had to fly in from Florida this morning.  Little Australian Rock Star.  He just finished a tour with Peter Frampton.  Adam and I met on the Bebo Norman Dreaming True Tour back in the Fall of 2006.  
Anyhow, these guys have recorded with Jason and Rusty before and so communication is second nature for them, and we jammed on these songs for a little before throwing down some tracks.  I think it's going to be a vibey little album...in places.  and pretty big in others.  :)  I can tell you this much, the songs are going to keep in line with the songs you've already heard: they elevate God's Perfection and confess our need for him.  

So now it's very late (12:52am).  We're going to start up again tomorrow at 9, so it's time for some sleep.  The songs sound incredible, can't wait for you to hear them.  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Here We Are Now, Entertain Us


I'm not sure what Kurt Cobain meant when he penned those words, but they were on my mind this morning.  You see, (who ever starts a sentence with "You See" unless it's in a school play?) I'm in Bonneau, SC right now, to perform tonight with Francesca 'I'm Letting Go' Battistelli and NewSong.  Bonneau is small.  My friend Eric Gilbert (who just recorded an incredible Kids CD) is from Alabama and always joked how in movies that took place in the South, people always speak like it's the Civil War.  "No one Towks lahk that, daggum," he'd say.  (okay, he's not that bad)  But he's wrong.  They talk like that in Bonneau.  Lahk digni-fahd ladies & gennelmen

I woke up starving for Breakfast, but there are only Granola and Breakfast bars on the bus, so I caught a ride to the local Handy Mart II.  Tasty Breakfast Sandwiches.  I even wrote a review on Google Maps.   All that to say, this place is small.  

I was talking to Gary while I ate my sandwich back at the church, and he started getting teary eyed talking about bringing the concert in, and the lives it could touch and some of the people who are coming that need to see and feel Christ's love.   He was amazed that we would come!  
I told him, "Gary, I've played shows in big cities and I often feel like the audience just crosses their arms and says, 'How are you going to entertain me more than I was at last week's concert?'  Big cities get concerts all the time.  But you don't & I know that we are going to have a BLAST tonight!"

I'm a city boy.  First Pittsburgh, now Atlanta.  I often find myself wanting to be impressed.  Not my 2 year old.  Last night he gasped in delight when he realized he could pull the straw out of his cup.  Where did we lose the wonder?  Desensitization?  Over-saturation?  I don't gasp like I used to.  It's kinda sad.  

How do we get that back?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Twitter to Touch

I love Twitter.  It's fun, it's easy, and my friend Casey made a comment about it last week, that I thought was incredibly insightful.  It went something like this: "Twitter is great, it's a way to keep in touch with your friends, without even having to talk to them!"  

In a sense, he's right.  Then next time Brandon Heath and I chat, I'll know what he's been up to, because I keep up with him on Twitter.  I know my friend Harrison stubbed his toe a couple days ago.   My Mom knew that I had a Doctor's appointment today, because she follows me on Twitter.   It IS a form of communication.  And a lesser one.  

Consider someone about to lose their job.  Or maybe they're about to receive the unpleasant end of a break-up.  There are some conversations that must be done face to face.  We've seen it in movies, "You're breaking Up with me?!?  Over the PHONE??!?"  Can you imagine how irate you would be if you were informed that you were fired in an EMAIL?  With a TEXT??  What if you found out by following your bosses Twitter account?  "I fired Aaron today...felt good."  When something important has to be communicated, you do it face to face.

I have a cold.  I can't hug or kiss my family lest they get sick.  Try explaining to a 2 year old why "Daddy can't hold you" or "Daddy can't play right now", when that's all you want to do.  

Think about how when God wanted to communicate Salvation to His children, he wanted us to do more than just read about it by following His account.  He came in the flesh!  

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Very Happy Birthday


Yesterday was Daniel's 2nd Birthday. We had an incredible day from Pillsbury Orange rolls for B'fast to lunch at a Park with Sarah's sister's fam and cupcakes. From a little nap (and a natural gas leak scare!) to my Parents and my brother's fam coming over for dinner. (which was fantastic but gave me heartburn)  (Dinner, not my family)

We got Daniel a Radio Flyer Big Wheel which he loved and between that and a little stuffed Elmo we gave him right before bed, I was reminded why it's better to give than to receive.

When I receive something, I'm often honored, thrilled, grateful, etc. But when I see how someone else feels those emotions because of a gift Given...I can rarely hold back the tears! Daniel GASPED when he saw Elmo, gave it a gentle hug, patted its back and whispered 'Emmo'.

He fell asleep happy...and 3 hours past his bedtime! Happy Birthday, son.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thank You, Jesus, for this touchdown, Amen.

Tonight 8:15pm.  It's ON.  Too bad the Steelers aren't playing Jacksonville next week, when I have a show in...Jacksonville.  

Here's something to talk about: I'm not sure where I land on this.  People who accept awards, no matter what the award is for, always "thank God, first and foremost"  Sometimes, it's common knowledge that the person doesn't even acknowledge God by the way they live.   Sometimes I wonder if people feel like they need to thank God because it's the right thing to do.  Then I feel weird about the people who didn't win the award: nominated or not even nominated: as if God didn't want them to "win" (Which is ridiculous to assume).  This is especially weird to me in two areas.  Ministry Awards and Sports. 

The Dove Awards have a category for Best Worship Leader.  I just think that's strange. While it's an honor to receive any award or nomination, I feel like it takes away from the other hard working, God pursuing people whose work is just as pleasing to God (quite possibly: only He knows)

Then sports.  I'm a Pittsburgh Steeler fan.  I know it's just a game: but man, when we're playing against the Bengals for example, and they score a touchdown, I throw things at the television (pillows, soft things) and when I see a Bengal player point up to Heaven or kneel in the endzone, I always think, "God's not a Bengals fan!"  (I know he's not a Steeler fan or any other fan either)  But I just wonder if we give credit to God for some wrong things.   Sure He gives us life and breath and a mind that can learn how to throw and catch a football...maybe it's innocent.   I always point to the sky at the end of a show if people cheer for me.  I direct them to God.   He deserves the praise.  

anyhow: discuss ;)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

That Smells Incredible!

I was just pouring my third cup of morning Joe, Nantucket Blend in my Jamaican mug, about to head out to the back porch and continue my morning breakfast ritual with my family, when lightning struck.   I said, "Sarah, I have a good blog idea!"  Now I'm no Louie Giglio, Tony Nolan or Randy Schlichting when it comes to taking everyday experiences and gleaning spiritual application from them.  But I try to be.  ;)

Last night after I kissed Daniel goodnight, I headed downstairs and there was an incredible, strong aroma throughout the whole floor.   I couldn't place it.  I knew we were having Sarah's incredible 'meatball soup' (the current name until we make a better one) but it was just leftovers, so I shouldn't smell it yet.  Then I thought, "Charcoal!" I went outside, but smelled no one barbecuing.  I now started to run inside, a bit worried.  The oven was off.  No incense burning.  No candles.  I followed my nose to the sink area, then opened the dishwasher which was on 'Heat Dry'.  A single wooden spoon had fallen onto the heat coil and was veritable charcoal.  My nose was right the first time.  I just didn't know it was in my house.  I caught it in time.  That was the best smelling potential house fire I've ever encountered.  

Here's my attempt at a life lesson:  Things that are devastatingly dangerous to our well being (whether physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, etc) are often disguised as safe, pleasant, enticing, inviting and even incredible smelling.  But unless they are identified accurately, swiftly and promptly 'nipped in the bud'...they can burn your house down.



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Did you Plug it in?


Woke up this morning around 9am, early considering I finally turned off Brooke Fraser by 3am.  We left Massachusetts/Connecticut last night which was pleasantly a fantastic show, sometimes us Yankees keep our emotions to ourselves whenever we're having a good time, so I always expect a quite crowd up North, but they had a blast, and therefore we did too.  We woke up in Delaware this morning and thanks to Matt Butler's iPhone, we knew we were 4.5 miles from Broadkill Beach.  So we took a 4.5 mile run, Matt, Tony and I, and ended up at the beach, where I got to add to my sand collection.  Yes, I collect sand from every beach I've visited and then I put it in a cool glass jar, label it and display it.  I like the beach, and I just like to be reminded of it. 

Soundcheck was 'fun', I have some strings prerecorded that we play back during the shows because it's cheaper than trying to fit an entire orchestra in my bunk.  Anyhow, they wouldn't work.  I spent maybe 45 minutes with all the guys trying to figure it out.  After trying everything, I called Josh, my go-to drummer who compiled all the strings for live shows, and even though I caught him in the middle of a session, he helped me through it, but it still didn't work.  Something else was wrong... 

Finally I turned the volume up on my computer.  It had been muted.   We spent almost an HOUR trying to figure out the complicated preferences that "must" have been altered.  The solution was basic and almost obvious.  

I'm going to try to apply that to life, and maybe even my spiritual journey.  I'm going to try to not complicate things that God has made simple.  I'm not skilled to understand everything, but I know at God's right hand stands my Savior.   He loves us.  He always will. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

NewSong Week Two: OH & NC

An interesting thing happened before I left for the second week of the Least Of These tour.  I was home watching TV or reading, I can't remember, but I was drinking some hot tea (because Fall pretended to come early) and Daniel, my 2 year old wanted to drink some.  I had it sitting on the coffee (tea) table and he was reaching for the fresh, scalding hot mug.  I stopped him verbally before he could burn his little hands, "Daniel! No, son, that's hot! That's daddy's drink"  Well he didn't like that, stuck his lower lip out and pouted; looked at me and reached out again slowly.  "Nooo, Daniel, daddy said 'no', you need to listen and obey daddy."    He obeyed.  A few minutes later, I said something to him and he had a little bitty temper tantrum when I spoke to him: he was mad a me!  Although we don't allow tantrums and that was addressed, it saddened me that he was angry with me, when I was only looking out for his best interest.  

How many times do I ignore God's instruction, test his patience and then express my lack of contentment at His will or his plan.  Maybe not always to the point of anger toward Him, but perhaps sometimes.  God loves us and doesn't want us to "burn our little hands on the hot mug"  I imagine that would sadden God as well, when we lose our patience with Him.

This past week in Ohio and North Carolina was great.  Little churches are always great to play at because the people are uber kind and hospitable and really know how to cook.  Then we played a Western Carolina Univ yesterday in an arena and a ton of people came and worshipped our Creator and it was just a grand time.  I hope that if we come near you on this little tour, you'll come and see us.   Newsong is a band that has some classic songs in Christian Music as well as incredible new songs...(ha)  And I already bragged on Franny and Tony.   

Glad to be home for a few days though, I pulled in a 4am and slept till 11:30.  Pancakes for Lunch!

Monday, September 15, 2008

NewSong Week One: Missour-EE!

I'm in my bunk.  I love my bunk. 

First I must give shout outs to Bekah, Amelia and Melissa for being the great people that they are.  Seriously, thanks for all your selfless help today.  

For those of you who missed my exciting night Saturday night via my Twitter, I will recap quickly.  I missed the first NewSong date in Moline, IL because I had a show previously scheduled in Grand Rapids, MI.  Well thanks to the devastating effects of Hurricane Ike, our flights IN AND OUT of Chicago were cancelled.  Getting to Michigan was hard enough, but then we couldn't get out.  I ended up renting a car, loading all my junk in it and high tailing it to Chicago at 5:30pm after only getting 4 hours of sleep the night before.  Ike was dumping water in proverbial buckets and I wasn't going to make my flight in time, so i called Budget and told them I'm driving to Missouri.  I headed south, stopped for Burger King and again later for a Large Gas Station Starbucks Coffee + Guarana.  At 2am I arrived in St Louis and met the NewSong bus at 4:30, I was in bed by 5.

Francesca Battistelli is opening the night and evidently she's already had two songs play on The Hills as of tonight.   Check her out: she's Miss Thing.   My deal on this Tour provides with One Bunk on their bus which is incredibly generous.  But unless Josh, Duffy and Scotty wanted to snuggle in my tiny bunk (see above) I wasn't able to bring my band.  So some of NewSong's band, Rico, Mark and Jack are playing for me.   And they're doing a bang up job.  NewSong's set sounds incredible and Tony Nolan (my running partner!) shares his heart in way will make you say "God is Amazing!"  Great people on this tour, I think I'm going to like it.  Come out and see us: check my MySpace for dates.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Create Again

I have a new song from Whispered and Shouted that got added to Radio last week.  My Dad told me that 4 stations added it, so that's pretty cool: thank you!  
Create Again is the name and I wrote it on a day when I resonated with David in Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord my God, and renew a right spirit within me."  I looked around outside, where I was standing, and marveled, if you will, at the trees and the colors and a sunset and felt the breeze and everything pointed to His creative hand and I thought, "If God can create all this, surely He'll create a new heart in me if I ask."   This song is a plea to the Creator to be the breath that we breathe and our very lifeblood: the essence of our being. 

If you like it, call your local Christian Radio Station and ask if they wouldn't mind giving it a spin.  (but don't tell them I sent you ;) )  

ya'll are the best.  Hope the song is Truth for you, even if it's not on the radio.
a

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm Going To Disney World!


Actually, I've been here for a day.  Sarah, Daniel and I flew down yesterday from Atlanta (you can't work at Disney and not bring your family!) and our Disney Tour Guide, Mark Carter met us at the airport and drove us to our hotel at Disney.  He offered to take us to the parks and get us on some of the rides without waiting in line...and how do say 'no' to that?!   So after Daniel woke up from his long-overdue nap and we grabbed some dinner in the room, we headed out to Epcot Center and I got to ride on SOARIN' (Daniel was too short), but then took Daniel over to The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Daniel had a blast hanging out with Crush and seeing a TON of fish.  He loves fish.  Then we got a front row seat of the Epcot fireworks display, I think Daniel equated Mark with a lot of fun, because he took to him like he does Few strangers...held his hand, wanted to be held By him the entire fireworks display and even gave him a hug afterward.  I think Daniel thought Mark Made the fireworks.  Check out the video

This morning I had a live radio interview on Z88.3, then did a TV interview and played on Fox Orlando's Morning Show!  They had some technical difficulties however, so they're going to air the song tomorrow morning (Sept 5th) and they're going to post it online: check it out: it might be good.  dunno.

Anyhow, if Hanna let's us, we're going to go to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom tomorrow before the shows on Saturday.  Night of Joy baby!  I love Disney World.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Leaving Peoria. Leaving Summer.

It's September 1st.  Summer is over.  Well, not by calendar/astrological standards, the Autumnal Equinox doesn't occur for another 21 days, but come on.  Summer's over and we all know it. 

We played at Northminster Church in Peoria, IL last night on their baseball field, set up at home plate.  It was very cool.  3,500 Peorians and other varied Illini showed up and stayed out late, on the eve of Labor Day.  We played a 75 minute set (76 actually) and despite some technical difficulties earlier in the day, the show went off with only a couple hitches (Like having no vocal in my ears for the first half of Give It All Away).   The crowd was fantastic, I think they had a good time, and they were ready to sing!

We got to the hotel around 11pm, i took a bath (which i guess you're not 'supposed' to do at hotels, cause that's gross, my wife tells me...but i really wanted a bath) then set the alarm and got a wake up call for 3:30 this morning.  Hotels don't even Provide coffee that early.  

After landing at the airport, I was giving Duffy a ride home in my Jeep, but I couldn't find my parking ticket.  The toll booth lady had to look me up, I told her I was only parked for a day.  She told me (10 minutes later) that I had been there for 3 days.  I said that I hadn't.   She said that I had.  So I backed out and searched my luggage again and finally found it.  The ticket said 8/31, not 8/29.  That was a close one.  

Home again.  Drinking coffee (finally) out of my Cafe Du Monde mug, and my thoughts turn toward New Orleans.  Pray!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Celebrate Freedom! Hot Lanta



It's not too often you stay in a hotel in your hometown. But we played at Celebrate Freedom in Atlanta tonight and have to fly out to Peoria early tomorrow. So instead of three of us driving an hour home and then again tomorrow morning, we just got a hotel in between the Festival and the airport. (which actually I think Celebrate Freedom paid for, so that's extra cool)

Tonight was the first night I ever played at a festival IN THE DARK! I usually get the 2pm-4pm slots but today, for many reasons (none of them being my 'deserving it' as some very kind people complimented) I ended up with 30 minutes at 9:15pm, right after the illustrious Luis Palau spoke. That was enough time for six songs. Perfectly, I have six singles that have gone to radio if you don't include Christmas songs, and if you DO include "Create Again" which goes to radio next Friday (Call your Station, ask them to play it!)

Give It All Away
Matchless (with Blessed Be Your Name tagged on to it)
Give Me Words To Speak (followed by a lot of Na Na's - great job Atlanta!)
Create Again
Watch Over Me
My Savior My God

I had a deficit of -00:01 left on the clock even after the crowd sang one more chorus of MSMG then we hit the last chord...so, not bad timing.  What a blast!  Thanks for singing along!
 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Alaska Encore

I had the privilege of going back to Seattle and hopping on yet another Holland America cruise ship (the Oosterdam this time...pronounced (OH) as in "toast")  This time, not with the band but with some good friends in the business, Bebo, his partner in crime Gabe Scott who plays ever instrument ever invented, Matthew West, comedian Bob Smiley, former Newsboy Phil Joel, CCM great Wayne Watson and myself.  Solo artist style.  Those of us married brought our wives and even Matthew, Emily, Phil and Heather brought their kiddos, who just brightened everyone's days.   
I've played with my band for so long that when I had to do 75-90 minutes by myself, I nearly had a nervous breakdown on stage.  I need to relearn how to stand on stage and feel comfortable with the inevitable silences that happen when there's no Scotty backing me up with the beautiful sound of harmonizing whales.  

Speaking of whales, we saw a school of orca and a pod of humpbacks fishing for Herring with their bubble nets.  Our tour guides were even amazed!

Thanks to Jon Robberson for inviting us on the cruise and for the photos!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cruisin' the 49th

This cruise of Alaska has been fun I must admit.  It's super hard leaving your family behind so I was dreading it a little, but i knew it would be fun hanging with the boys together.  Brandon Heath is here (just saw his new video for "Give Me Your Eyes"- really great!)  We hit the hot tub a couple times although last night we were only in for 2 minutes when they closed it and we had to leave.  

We played a 30 minute show on Sunday night, me and Brandon together with the band, we played a bunch of worship songs to kick off the week right.  Then Monday morning I had a 45 minute set and I played 6 songs from Anything Worth Saying, VH1 storyteller style.  Something happened on Tues morning that I had to get up early too. Brandon did a show Tuesday night after we cruised Glacier Bay National Park and I came out to play Red Sky and Give Me Your Eyes on the piano.  I led worship early Wednesday morning, just me and a guitar.   

So this morning was my first chance to sleep in a little since who knows when.  When I'm home, I wake up to the sound of "Daddymommy!  Daddymommy!" (which I really miss hearing right now)  We need to get up at 6:30 tomorrow to fly to California, so I'm ready for my only sleep in day.  But at 6am I hear a knock at the door.  Room service.  Breakfast.  Prune Juice.  Steamed Prunes and Muesli.  The worst possible breakfast you could imagine.  Yes, one of the band guys thought it would be a good idea to make me laugh.  at 6 in the morning.  Just before I fell back to sleep, the kitchen called to see if I was pleased with b'fast.  One wrong number later, I unplugged my phone and finally around 10am, i fell asleep til 1.  

awesome.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Misplaced Praise


I had a great time filling in for Steve Fee and getting to play with the rest of the band earlier this week.  A great bunch of High School students, those Grace Brethren.   Steve's little boy, Price, was having surgery and Steve asked if I would fill in for a couple sessions at the conference while he was with his family in the hospital.  All turned out well!

When I got home to my family, we had a special little time with all three of us playing "tent" on the bed.  I hide under a blanket with Daniel and he smiles and shakes cause he's so excited and calls out in a sing-song voice, "MAHH-mee!"  Then Sarah sneaks up on us and tickles his belly.  It's a rather fun game, because he has a blast.  Therefore we do.  Once we were all lounging together, I started singing a lullaby I wrote for him when he missed his mommy one time called "Oh Mommy

The strange thing was, as I sang it (about Mommy) he kept looking at me and saying "Daddy! Daddy!"  I kept interrupting my lyric saying "no, this is about Mommy"  Then Sarah sang it and replaced "Mommy" with "Daddy"  BUT, when she was singing "Oh Daddy" he would look at her and say "Mommy!  Mommy!"  (did you follow that?)

It made me think: we often misplace our praise: we'll praise the SINGER and not the OBJECT of the song!  Just like Daniel did.  He was so enraptured by the fact that i was singing, that he would clap and yell my name, and missed the fact that I was singing about "mommy."    We can get so enamored with our favorite artist that we praise the unworthy instead of the Worthy.  
I just thought it was interesting.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pour Some Sugar on the Stillness of My Heart

Josh and I played a cool stripped down set in Susanville, CA at the County Fair Wednesday.   We played at 8:00 or something in the Grandstand area, where they race cars.  We had a small kit set up, a keyboard and two acoustic guitars for us to hop around on.   I had been hearing this band play from somewhere across the fairgrounds through the course of the day, during sound check and what not.   I thought they sounded pretty good.  They obviously had a couple different singers...a guy sometimes, a girl others.   By the time we played, we were the last set of the day.   While the promoter was introducing me, he asked me if we were ready.  It was really casual, so I just asked him off microphone if that other band was almost done...cause they were still rockin it.  He said he was pretty sure they must be almost done.  So we started into a few songs nice and loudly, as loud as two guys can get, not being Nelson.  By the time we got to "Stillness" I stopped to talk about how God quite often speaks through silence and quiet...but I couldn't help notice that the sounds of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" were echoing throughout the park while I was talking.   And even on into the song which was extra special during those quiet intimate moments. 

It turns out it wasn't a band at all.  It was the mechanical bull that was just on the other side of the Grandstand.  

Awesome.  I told the crowd it was kinda like this commercial...but bad. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Integrity

Happy Bastille Day

I've heard integrity described as consistency in one's actions, regardless of circumstance.  I'm still working on that.   This is an embarrassing blog to write: not proud of it.  But it's a good lesson I believe.

Yesterday morning at the BWI airport we had two people working on checking in our baggage.  The lady was sweet and the gentleman was not very helpful, he looked rather bothered when anyone asked for help.  He ended up giving us a hard time about our luggage...which, long story short, I didn't feel was consistent, so I expressed my frustration in a moment of impatience.  Don't get me wrong: I didn't cuss at the guy or anything...i just intentionally revealed my disappointment. 

Then after we got my credit cared back (that got charged considerably more than it did the day before for the same exact bags) she said, "I think I have one of your CDs."

boom.

Why did I act differently than I would have if I had met those people the night before at the concert?  (I even treat the people who tell me my merchandise is too expensive kindly)  The point is: It doesn't matter if you don't have your own CD.  It doesn't matter if you're not Billy Graham himself.  When you least expect it, someone may know who you are and watch you act un-Christ-like.  Or even if no one knows you, you may squelch an opportunity for God to speak to one of His children through you!  Kinda like I did yesterday morning .

God forgive me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Work (I'm not in Kansas anymore)


Forgive me if my blogging has turned from a devotional into a log.  I've found that people are also interested in what we musicians do from day to day, but I also miss sharing with you some truths that I stumble across in life.  I'll try to incorporate both. 

Just got back from Kansas again.  I know, that never happens, the same place twice in 2 weeks.  I got up at 3:30 on Sunday to fly out and got up at 3:00 this morning to fly home.   It was 98 degrees while we set up and sound checked, and I know all things are relative, and what we do will never end up on that Dirty Jobs program with Mike Rowe or whomever, but every once in while I have to compliment my guys on a day of hard work.  At the end of the show last night as we drove back to the hotel, we were spent.  Exhausted from little to no sleep the night before, then all day on a plane and in a van, eating fast food, setting up in 100 degree weather with no water, merch not showing up, performing with a monitor mix that wasn't the same as it was during soundcheck, finding out your hotel room hasn't been serviced when you were about to take an hour long power nap...  

Like I said, I know many of you serve in the military or maybe you have a job you wish you didn't, and for some reason, the music business is seen through rose-colored glasses (people thinking it's the best job ever) so I'm not comparing to other jobs at all...only some days it's a blast, and while we love what we do: some days it's work.   Every one of the guys on my team have cushier days on the road with other artists than they often do with me.  And I'm just grateful that they like to stick around.   And WORK with me. 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's like Thunder...and Lightning


KLTY: THE Christian Radio Station of Dallas Texans, puts on an annual Festival called Celebrate Freedom.  I've heard that up to 200,000 people have gone to the one day free festival.   Yesterday, not as many people turned out, maybe because it was 99 degrees, or the new location didn't have the same nostalgia as previous years at South Fork Ranch, but none the less, I was excited to be invited back for the 3rd time!   Truly.  I told John Hudson yesterday, it's like if you go to eat at someone's house that you really like, and they invite you back...or if you go on a date with someone you like, and at the end, they say, "we should do this again sometime", It feels great!  You should never feel entitled to receive a call-back.  How arrogant would that make you?  So needless to say, I've been pretty stinking flattered that they'd asked me back twice now.  I was going to play at 6:10.  Meredith Andrews went on just before that and my band played with her (Ashley Appling filled in for Josh) for her song "You're Not Alone"  And she killed it (that's a good thing)  Great song Meredith!  Then she introduced me, "Now, would you please welcome, Aaron Shust!"  Just then, someone from KLTY walked to the front and said, "Everybody, the storm is getting very close and it's bad and we need to head for cover immediately: to the corridors or to your cars right now!"  
People were bewildered.   They stared at her like, "are you serious"   
Just then a massive thunderclap crackled through the blackening sky, accompanied by an immediate bolt of lightning.  And every teenaged girl in the stadium screamed.  It was incredible.  
The people scattered, leaving remnants of folding chairs and umbrellas.  We waited and waited for the storm to pass until finally, they called it officially cancelled.   I never played one note.  
We grabbed some Mexican food, went to bed.  Got up at 4:30 again.   Now I'm home. 
Sleepy time. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

oops


sorry...didn't mean to make it difficult to post.  my bad.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kansas City and Michigan


The alarm went off at 3:45 Friday morning and I loaded up my Jeep and drove through the cool and desolate Tennessee towns on the way to the airport.  I met my new road manager Eric there and Scotty who had flown in from Yuma the entire day before and we headed to Kansas City.  Which is not in Kansas.  We met up with Duffy and Ashley in Memphis half way there.  My drummer Josh couldn't make this date which is sad cause he's actually from KC and homecomings are always fun.  But Ashley was great and even though the crowd was smaller than the promoter had hoped, the people who were there were excited to be there and we had a great 'living room' concert, I like to call it.  Sometimes you really just feel like family.  

Early on Saturday we managed to get through the impossibly strict KC airport security, (the toothpaste industry must be thriving) and flew to Detroit, rented a SUV, packed all the gear, luggage and Scotty in the back and drove 3+ hours north to Gaylord and played the Big Ticket Festival.  I don't know how many people were packed into that Worship Tent, but thanks to everyone who came, I feel like I got to meet most of you afterward, but what a fun time that was!  They wanted an encore and since Chris Tomlin wasn't there that year, we sang "How Great Is Our God" cause who doesn't want to sing that?   Another great "family" feeling in that tent.  We had church!  

After catching up with Shonlock (appraising our busted fingers) Tim and Brian from Diverse City, eating dinner and having some serious chocolate festival fondue, we drove the 3+ hours BACK to Detroit.  A couple of us chilled in the hotel hot tub for a bit, although we forgot our swimsuits...

6:30 wake up call and we're back home...I even made it in time for church.  A fantastic message you have to hear.  Took a 3 hour nap then went to the pool with Daniel till his lips turned blue.  Twas a good week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Outpost Advance


Every year starting in 2002, I look forward to a retreat of sorts with some of my dearest friends I've ever encountered on this planet, since my days growing up in Western PA.  We call it the Outpost.  What started out as a simple getaway and some well needed rest and renewal with 4 of us, has turned into an annual event for no more that 30 men ranging from ages 19 to 65, who have either lived life together closely, or who are dear friends of some of us, who are brave enough to enter into a community where love and a desire for growth abound.  

We eat more food, thanks to TJ Witterman, than I can handle.  16oz steaks that have no equal, his mom's recipe for mashed potatoes, Chicken Philly Subs, skillet breakfasts and more.   We white water raft, we hiked the Appalachian Trail (not all of it) we even had a contest to see who could stay in a pool of spring fed water (45 degrees!) the longest.  The polar bear club competition.   

But we also have incredible times of worship (men singing loudly is something to hear!) and conversations about being restored to God, reconciled to each other and reconnected with creation.  

I so look forward to this time of rest and renewal every year.   We ended it on Father's day and I and my brother were blessed to have our Dad with us and after we all took communion on Sunday morning we prayed together for our Dads and they prayed for us, some of US new dads.  Then I drove home and saw the kid who made ME a dad!   It was a good weekend! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nebraska

The flight from Dallas to Omaha (via St Louis) was a non-stop, so we didn't have to scramble at the airport to find a new gate.  Josh and I grabbed the aisle and window seats respectively and I blew my nose and Josh made grunting noises hoping that no one would sit between us.  But it was a full flight and we ending sitting by a fascinating person, Carli, who is basically Claire from LOST.  Carli is from Melbourne, Australia and is taking some time off to travel around America staying with people that she meets along the way.  She had just spent a week in New Orleans, but had met a couple in Phoenix who lived in Omaha.  So she was going there next.  She's a traveling vagabond until her cash runs out.  I told her she needed to see NYC, San Diego and Seattle.  Josh recommended Chicago as well.   Josh also tried out his Australian accent on her.  If you ever saw the beginning of Dumb and Dumber, you know the awkward moment that it was.

We drove out to Norfolk early Sunday morning to the big town park area and after soundcheck, Hawaiian shaved ice and 2 bites each of a Funnel cake, we spent the afternoon in a local hotel room and slept.  I tried to get a pic of Duffy, Scott and Josh all sleeping on the King sized bed, but it was too dark and my phone doesn't have a flash.  I fell asleep on the couch watching Bourne Identity and Pirates of the Caribbean on tbs.  Then we played at 8:30 but had to end early because of something called a massive lighting storm.

Monday we flew out of Omaha early and flew back to Nashville, Josh went on to Orlando to do a gig with Dave Barnes, Scotty flew back to Yuma today and I drove home to Atlanta to watch the Penguins stay alive in the Stanley cup for one more game in Triple Overtime from my own couch!  Good to be home.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday Night Lights: Will Graham

We landed in Dallas yesterday and headed South to Burleson in a van to meet up with Go Fish, Building 429 and Tree63 for a Will Graham Celebration: a 3 day event held on the Burleson High School Football field: home of Kelly Clarkson.  We enjoyed a well needed stop at Taco Cabana on the way there.  The stage was great: the crew professional and the staff polite.  That's a good start.  Will Graham is a great person and we actually have Toccoa Falls College in common (where I got my bachelor's and he got his doctorate) and a good friend Wes White...who thought people were calling me "shoes" after I knew him well for 5 months.)  Will and Wes worked together a Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.  

We played 20 minutes (21):
Give It All Away
Matchless
Give Me Words To Speak
Watch Over Me
My Savior My God

Afterword, Josh, Scotty and I watched Indiana Jones...it was a little fantastic, but fun.  Now after 8+ hours of sleep (that never happens on the road unless we get a full travel day like today) we'll head to the airport at 1pm and fly to Omaha, where we'll drive to Norfork and play again!  75 minutes this time!  woo who!   Then we go home to where the trees stand still.

Monday, May 26, 2008

To San Diego and Back


...via Nashville. 

It's amazing how small this world can seem at times...i had eggs and bacon this morning in San Diego and a couple hours later, I've landed in Nashville, driven to Atlanta and I'm back in my living room.  I've sat down all day.  Not my favorite way to spend a Memorial Day, I missed my family's get together at my brother's house :(, but I have to tell you, it was good to play again.  It's been a month since tour ended, and to get on stage and sing to the Spirit West Coast crowd was a sweet reminder of why I love what I do.  To share the stage with three of my closest and dearest friends, Josh, Duffy and Scotty and sing the worthiness of God along with a couple thousand people who feel the same way about Him as we do, is a great thing.  I'm privileged that I get to use my own words to do that and honored that you would sing along!  

Thank you, oh Southern Californians for bearing with my sinus issues as I sang 'Batchless' and 'By Savior By God'.   I'm glad to inform you that I seem to be getting better.   Come to the Monterey show, I should be all cleared up by then.   God bless!
a

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maria Chapman


Last night Steven Curtis Chapman's 5-year old daughter Maria was killed in a tragic accident at home.  Please join me in praying for the Chapman family during this time of unimaginable hardship.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Grazie Radio


We went to church last night (Saturday) at Perimeter so today we drove up to see my parents and hang out with them and Joel and Chelsea, our good friends from the Pittsburgh area, my true home.  Joel has an incredible ministry going up there, working to bring an overlooked area and people to restoration.  

I was listening to X&Y on the way up for about half a song and decided that since it was Sunday, I'd fill my mind with some good solid Bible thumping music.  So I "turned the dial" (pushed a button) to 104.7 The Fish here in Atlanta.  Sarah and I tried to figure out who covered God of Wonders cause it sure didn't sound like Mac and Caedmon's.  About 3 songs in, "Watch Over Me" came on!  I was so excited cause I'd never heard it on the radio before!  Primarily because I mainly listen to CDs in the car...regardless, I was thrilled!  I turned it up to hear how it translated on the radio waves (if the low end was lost, blah blah blah) and I was pleased with how it sounded.  

I really don't ever read the charts or see "how I'm doing", because it takes my focus of why I'm doing what I'm doing and gives me insecure mood swings.  I figure that when I stop getting offers to play for people, I'll know it's over, and in the meanwhile, I'll keep doing my best.  My Dad keeps me posted on good news anyway!  :)  He told me today that Watch Over Me and Give Me Words To Speak were Both on this week's 20 the Countdown Magazine and that if Give Me Words stayed on for 2 more weeks, it will have been in the top 20 for a full year!  Incredible!  Thank you, Jon Rivers!  I like people telling me the good news: my skin is too thin for me to sift through all the bad news myself to try to find good stuff (human validation). 

Anyhow, I heard Watch Over Me on the Fish Again on the way home...and I heard myself singing those words: "I was broken, every prayer that I had spoken..." and I told Sarah, "What an honor!  Those are my thoughts!  How cool that radio stations would allow me to address their audience!" 

I thank GOD, and I thank YOU for listening and for caring and for supporting me, to give me opportunity to share what God has whispered to me, with you! 

Monday, May 12, 2008

THE SHACK


I just finished reading "The Shack".  It took me a while to finally read it, because it seemed everyone was telling me to read it.  I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon, so i put it off for a while.  But I JUST finished reading its 250 pages in about 2 days.  And it was pretty great.  Do yourself a favor and don't read anything about it...like not even the back cover: it's a spoiler, if you ask me.  Even some promotional banners, like the one you see above, are spoilers.  Just read it.  I loved it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lets Go Pens


If you haven't caught on, I'm from Pittsburgh.  I wrote a song called 'Burgh Boy' a long time ago when i was in college, about how much I love all things Pittsburgh.  Then last month when I played a show at my alma mater (www.tfc.edu) a few people started shouting for me to play it...so I had to acquiesce, even though I wasn't prepared and forgot a lot of how it went.  Needless to say it was fun.   Then I performed it again April 18th at my last Spring Tour show which happened to be in Pittsburgh...and gave the mighty 'Guins a little tribute.

Anyhow, WORD FM in Pittsburgh emailed and wanted to know if they could play it...then if they could post it for a free download.  So we said sure.  So if you care about Pittsburgh: here are two free songs about it.  If you could care less about Pittsburgh: here are two free songs about it.  Enjoy.

And go Pens!