Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holding On To A Moment

I don't really have a point to this blog except to stamp a moment in time and share it with you.

It's officially Christmas Eve in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States, 2:11am to be more precise. My wife and I finished wrapping all the presents we lavished on our boys (too many...just little things mainly, but a lot of things to open...the joy of watching them receive is more a gift to us I'm sure...but that's another blog) and for the rest of my family. We watched the tail end of the 1999 A Christmas Carol and the Nativity Story twice before we finished wrapping. We wrap slowly. And now I should be in bed. I need to shower first and we plan to get up at 6 to make sure we are all prepped when Daniel wakes up and walks downstairs. I'm looking at 3 hours of sleep...but the only lights on in the house are the tree and the mantle above the fireplace. All is quiet except for the clock on the wall and I just can't bring myself to sleep yet. I love how we mark this season. It's truly beautiful to me. The Music, the food, the movies, the decorations, the candles...and we do it all (except for the lights on the outside, never got around to that) but I certainly don't think we allow it to take our focus away from The Real Reason like pop-Christian-culture seems to be trying to tell us we do.

All these things mark the season. Just like pumpkins in October, Turkey and Pilgrims in November, Blueberry pie and fireworks in July and Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds in March! December is just my favorite and I'm a little sad when it has to end, the tree comes down and I don't replace it with anything. But the absence of the things that mark only make them sweeter come next December 1st. The beautiful truth is that our God is with us Jan 1-Dec 31, our God made flesh, our God come to live among us, our God who bought us back to Himself!

Redemption. What an incredible and beautiful concept.

And what a beautiful night. :) Thanks for listening.
Merry Christmas!
Aaron

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Minute Angels

I've been enjoying a December at home, unlike some of my hard working colleagues out and about on tours this Christmas, and while I love to perform Christmas music and get the itch for the tour bus (vans and airports aren't itchy) life, I am absolutely Loving being home and finding a rhythm with my wife and kids. I did play with Glory Revealed December 6th here in the Atlanta area which is always a blast, and had a concert outside of Wichita, Kansas last week (a special little intimate concert with just me a guitar and a piano...that I ended with Silent Night!) but beside that, I've been home, trying to keep margin, make cookies, finish the end-of-year family home video, catch up on photo albums, brainstorm Christmas presents for loved ones, plan for next year, reading influentially worthwhile books, write good songs and make sure that I enjoy it all without missing out on the beauty of the season.

Sidenote...if we make an effort to keep Jesus the focal point of our lives all year round, we may not need to feel the pressure to 'make sure we focus on Jesus this month.' It's kinda nice to look forward to simple things, like the fact that the Christmas lights can make your house look really pretty, egg nog tastes awesome and making dozens of cookies is finally socially acceptable, all the while never forgetting that the reason WE celebrate this time of year is GOD became one of us in order to save us. Pretty outstanding: even in June.

So yesterday, enjoying our margin, I began chatting with a good friend of mine about how he looks just like a TV show host who inspired us to make a Sicilian Pizza for dinner. He jokingly invited himself over to join us, and I said, "sweet, come over!" (I still say sweet) His wife was at Bible study so he brought over the kids: we ate some homemade pizza, decorated some cookies with a LOT of sprinkles, sang, danced and just talked like good friends do.

There's a certain energy in a spontaneous evening that is so much more fun to me than something that has been on the calendar for weeks. I highly recommend the last minute invite.

Friday, November 20, 2009

You're Blessed?

Morning, faithful blog followers. Sorry so absent. I'm up early enough to see the sun rise...well, I have a massive row of town-homes blocking my sunrise, but the sky is no longer black...and thought I'd share my morning reading with you.

I love the sermon on the mount, it's rather incredible in my opinion. I simply read through the beatitudes this morning, or as Eugene Petersen calls the section: You're Blessed. Most of the them, while incredibly insightful (insights from God Himself) seem to make obvious sense, such as, "You're blessed when you care...you find yourselves cared for." But the last one always gives me pause. Check it out:

"Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even! -- for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble."

Wow. Whether you're ridiculed by someone who doesn't believe what you believe, whether a fellow Christian makes you feel like a spiritual goodie-two-shoes because of how you believe, or you just get blindsided and don't know how in the world to classify it or why it even happened...take comfort in Matthew 5:11-12. Heaven may be applauding!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Early In The Morning

Good Morning! Well it's early for me. I woke up and turned my alarm off and came downstairs before the house got active. I fixed some Cafe Du Monde coffee in my french press, sat in my man chair, and read a little bit with Yo-Yo Ma in the background and the rain falling outside. Nice.

This tour has been a bit physically draining, what with the travel taking place after the show's ending in vans, grabbing a hotel around sunrise oftentimes and catching a few hours sleep before checkout. My aging body doesn't like that. I turn the big 3-4 this month, which I never thought would be a benchmark, but for the first time I won't be able to ask myself, "What was Jesus doing at my age?"

Anyhow, speaking of Early and Jesus, I read a bit in Mark 1 today. I had planned to read more, but recalled something that Charles Shepson referred to as "Walking through the Bible" I believe. Instead of reading the Bible all the way through once per year, he'd read until something tugged at his heart, stop, meditate on that, and that was his reading for the day. Sometimes 3 chapters, sometimes one verse. Sometimes it took him 2-3 years to read through.

Mark 1:32ff (MSG) "THAT EVENING, AFTER THE SUN WENT DOWN, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, THE WHOLE CITY LINED UP at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn't let them say a word. WHILE IT WAS STILL NIGHT, WAY BEFORE DAWN, HE GOT UP and went out to a secluded spot and prayed." (emphasis mine)

I never realized the timeline that preceded the story of Jesus' early morning. He was up late. I've never healed anyone, but if I had a show one night where a whole city lined up to meet me afterward, I might plan on sleeping in the next day.

Not Jesus. He placed a high value on waking up WAY early to talk to his heavenly Father.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The NFC North Tour

So we were in Green Bay last night and finally got most all the kinks out out of the show. Our apologies to the first 3 shows in PA, MD and NC. We played Green Bay last night, Madison tonight, Duluth and Brainerd, Minnesota the next two days.

The Auditions have been fun! We had Caroline Deason from North Carolina come to the Raleigh show, she played acoustic guitar during Matchless (that's the contest song) and twas a lot of fun. We don't provide a comfy soundcheck for the contest winners, it adds to the excitement. Tonight, we'll have Andy Boettcher play and sing...he doesn't know that he'll be singing yet...but he will. We've had a guy audition for drums, which would be a lot of fun too. So keep those auditions coming and tell your friends about it too!

I had a nice morning this morning, we arrived in Madison around 3am and I slept til 10:15, had a leisurely morning sitting by the window, letting the warm sun stream in, had some coffee, read the Sports page of the USA Today, Romans 2 and another great chapter from David Nasser's Glory Revealed. Went for a run, grabbed a bite to eat with Nate at Yola's, turns out that the owner is a pastor and the girl working there was coming to the show tonight, so we got her tickets and she got us free dessert. The barter system is alive and well in Wisconsin.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First two nights

So I'm blogging on my iPhone. So it'll be short. The first two nights in Washington PA and Laurel MD were challenging to say the least but God was glorified none the less and a total of 55 children were sponsored through compassion international which means their lives will be forever changed and the cycle of emotional, economical and spiritual poverty has been broken for them! 125,000 children made commitment to Christ last year through Compassion: indescribable!

We had a technical nightmare or two this evening occur on stage: my favorite of which was when the live version video for To God Alone that was playing for our last song reset right in the middle of the song and started over!! While we kept playing! So instead of seeing how God can take our struggles and our broken lives and turn it into something beautiful... The concert members in Maryland only saw the struggles depicted...twice. If you wanna see the whole thing click here.

Now we're driving to Raliegh. We should get in around 5am. That's rough man. Pray for Nathan: he's driving.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back To School

Remember how before when I was leaving for the Glory Revealed Tour I said I would blog a lot? Yeah. that was awesome. Sorry about that. I twittered a lot! and now I have one of those new fangled iPhones, so I should be even better.

The Back To School Tour with Chris Sligh starts today. We actually had rehearsals yesterday here in Nashville. They went well, a little longer and more complicated than anticipated, but we survived. Duffy, my bass player from antiquity, and my new guitar player for this tour, Nate Betingfield just spent the night here in Nashville and we have bus...van call at noon and we'll hit the road for the first show tomorrow night south of Pittsburgh (Little Warshington for yunz Burghers)

So that brings me to my fear. I have been BLESSED to have traveled the past few years with some of my heros in Christian music, (enter name dropping section here) and even when I've gone out on my own, we've traveled on a bus, which places our lives in the hands of a well rested, professional driver while we sleep. I actually woke up this morning and thought I was in Pittsburgh (which would be awesome, cause I'd try to weasel into the big game!)

But in light of the present economy, we decided to keep our costs down for this tour by driving vans so that ya'll could enjoy the concert experience for as inexpensive as possible! And I'm thrilled about that: I think it's gonna be a great evening (here are the list of dates to see if we're coming near you) But I DO appreciate your prayers for us as we travel and drive ourselves to each next show right after the previous show is over (we're driving at night mostly and hauling trailers...scary). My mom reminded me today that Paul spent many sleepless nights in his travels (II Cor 6:5) and I read this morning in Psalm 56:8 "You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights...each ache written in your book"

So we may look a little haggard up there on stage, but we're looking forward to coming, so come on out and join us! I'll try to keep you posted.

This week:
9/11 Washington, Pa (Alliance Church)
9/12 Laurel, MD (1st Baptist)
9/13 Raleigh, NC (Christian Comm Church)

General Admission at the door or VIP Tickets available (VIP includes ticket, CD, t-shirt, early venue admission for seat selection, preshow acoustic concert plus meet and greet)


Monday, August 17, 2009

GLORY REVEALED STARTS TODAY!

Glory Revealed Banner

Getting ready to pack for the first leg of the Glory Revealed II Tour!  The bus leaves tonight and we'll be hitting a few cities around the Southeast!   I understand it's mostly sold out already, so hurry up if you want to come!  I'll be on the road with Mac Powell, Laura Story, David Nasser and a bunch of other good people!  

I'll try to keep the twitter updates as well as this blog coming!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Name the Twos

Had to scold Daniel this morning.  Again.  I would not call this the terrible twos although he is definitely testing his boundaries.  Every time he crosses a line and disobeys us, we have the opportunity to demonstrate the Good News.  What a privilege!

Disobedience is usually followed by a warning and then a spank on the bum/2 minute time out if he repeats the offense.  But what a beautiful thing it is afterward to be able to sit and talk him through what just happened.  

Our neighbor has a support beam under their deck that is about a centimeter too short.  It swings free.  (thank the builders for that one)  It just got discovered (during the episode of the great burning bush) and is getting taken care of...but Daniel was pushing on it this morning.  Sarah told him to stop and not to do that again.  Well he did.  Spank.  Time Out. Tears. Dejection. 

When I spoke to him about what happened he told me that he wanted to push the beam.  I heard words of Truth for my own life come out of my mouth as I said, "Sometimes we have to obey even when we don't understand why."  How often has God led me down a path I didn't like, and I grumbled about it?  Or fought in the opposite direction like Jonah?  Too often.  

I asked Daniel once today (different infraction) if he knew why he got spanked.  
   "Is a con-se-kense," he whimpered. 
   "Yes, buddy, it's a consequence for not obeying."
   "Daniel need tell Mommy sorry."
   "That would be very nice to do."

He's two.  But it's not terrible, it's wonderful.  Lessons of sin and grace and consequence and unconditional forgiveness are happening every day all around him...and TO him!  He's already told me, "Jesus have ow-ee on hands and toes" and "Jesus died on cross so I can go Heaven"  and two nights ago he had a dream that Jesus was in his room and called him over and Daniel gave him a big hug.  :D   I don't know what God is doing in my little boy's life, but I'm grateful that He is. 

Take the time to see the Gospel at work in your everyday lives, whether it's your kids or your own. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Below and Above the Clouds

We played at Lifest up in Packer Country last night.  Osh Kosh, Wisconsin!  We flew in to Midway in Chicago and drove up for the festival.  Had a quick soundcheck...actually we never got to play anything at all, so it was more of a line-check where you just make sure that everything's working and you can hear each instrument in your ears.  So, come time for the actual performance, we really couldn't hear clearly.  This is not a slight on the monitor engineer at all, as he only gives us what we ask for...we just didn't have enough time to find out what we wanted.   So I heard a befuddled muddle of sound in my in-ear monitors and couldn't tell what key I was even playing in.  Which doesn't matter...unless you have to SING!  (Which is what I do if you didn't know.)  So yeah, I think I was singing a half step higher...or lower...than the actual key for most of the songs.  Beside sounding horrible, it was awesome!

We drove to a Giordano's back in Illinois and enjoyed deep dish pizza goodness then headed to the hotel.  Right as I was about to crawl into bed for 4.5 hours of precious sleep, I saw it.  My phone had a message.  

"Nathan Lampone (12:40 am): He's in Jesus' arms.  He made it to his birthday"

July 11th, my friend Tom Lampone turned 52 years old and 15 minutes later began a face to face conversation with Jesus.   I took off in the middle of a downpour this morning in Chicago and as we burst through the puffy summer clouds and saw a glorious sunrise and blue skies I thought of Tom and his transition to Life, angels escorting him to meet his Savior.  His God.   What a mind job.   

If you would, pray for his wife, Patty, his kids Nathan and Tia and all those who love him, we will miss him. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mountains Are Just Wrinkles!

This may sound a little cheesy, but I just had two 'ah-ha' moments in about twenty seconds.  Thought I'd share. 

Maybe about 4 times a year I get up early when I don't have to.  Today's one of those days, I won't mention what time it was, but I will say it was before sunrise.  So I made some coffee, sat out on my back porch, which is my favorite place to sit, chased away the geese a few times because they eat Sarah's plants and their honking will wake up Daniel.  (Their "Retreat!" honk is even louder though) Anyhow, it's a good place for a time of relative quiet.  I read Oswald Chambers for June 10th, cause I was tired...but that was really good.  Then I read July 10th, cause that's what day it is, and that was even better.  Challenging.   Then I started reading some Mocha with Max.  It's a nice collection of snippets from all of Max Lucado's books and its pages are all wrinkled because someone fell asleep in the bathtub whilst reading.  It makes it look old...it's pretty cool actually. 

So finally the sun rises to my left (that means I'm facing South so you can stop trying to figure that out) and I can't help but notice that the page looks exactly like a topographical map of a mountain range.  
















"Hm. Funny", I think to myself, "What are the chances?"
Then it hits me, "Mountains are just wrinkles!"  Something every Tectonic Geologist knew since the first day of class, I'm sure, but my mind was just kinda blown that the tectonic plates could have smashed together with such force, that the ground wrinkled up like wet paper! 

Then came "ah-ha" number two:  These "mountains" that we face in our lives, the little ones and the insurmountable ones: in the eyes of the One Who slammed those plates together with His word and formed the Himalayas; they're simply wrinkles!  If we could somehow get into our minds that He wants to helps us navigate (or carry us) through life's difficult mountainous terrain, it may not seem like mountains we need to traverse...but only wrinkles.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Strong Friend Tom

One of my family's closest friends from Pittsburgh is the Lampone family.  Tom was in gymnastics as a kid & when he joined the football team in High School, he out-lifted everyone on the team, having never lifted a weight before in his life.  Legend has it that as a running back, he LOOKED for people to hit!  I worked for Tom and his construction company for two summers, so did my brother a few years later.   The practical feats of strength he performed on the job were jaw droppingly record breaking.  He's a man who loves life, his family and his God like few I've ever seen.  

Six years ago he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and the doctors say that they have never seen anyone fight the disease like he has and by all counts, he should no longer be living.  But he's a fighter physically, emotionally and spiritually like none other.  

I visited him at home yesterday with my Parents, brother, wife and boys and his physical strength has all but failed him...but amidst the tears and laughter was The Hope (assurance and knowledge!) that we will see him again!  What a Hope we have in Christ!  Tom said he'd be waiting for us at the gate and Nick (my brother) and I told him that the next time we see him, we want is 70's afro back, with a full 80's beard!   It felt like the end of Lord of the Rings when Frodo leaves for distant shores, and his companions are sad because they will miss him...but they KNOW the reunion will come!  

We can tend to lump Heaven in with fairy tales.  But fairy tales are only a shadow of Heaven.  "This is not where it ends...it's just where it begins."   

Tom is holding on to his family for a little bit longer, and if God chooses not to heal him in this world, you can best believe he's gonna be stronger than any ox in the next...and if that's the case, he'll be talking face to face with Jesus very soon.  And I'm just a little jealous. 

Friday, July 3, 2009

From the Mind of Max

I was going to just direct people to Max Lucado's website to read today's Journal entry from his book Grace for the Moment II...but it only went to his homepage and by tomorrow, it would be a different entry...so I'm just going to copy it in here.  I love this guy.  The way he sees God's grace is good for my brain.  Here's what he said today:

A List of Our Sins
Friday, July 03, 2009 
“He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He…destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.” 
Colossians 2:14 NLT

Come with me to the hill of Calvary…Watch as the soldiers shove the Carpenter to the ground and stretch his arms against the beams. One presses a knee against a forearm and a spike against a hand. Jesus turns his face toward the nail just as the soldier lifts the hammer to strike it.

The crowd at the cross concluded that the purpose of the pounding was to skewer the hands of Christ to a beam. But they were only half-right. We can’t fault them for missing the other half. They couldn’t see it…

Between his hand and the wood there was a list. A long list. A list of our mistakes: our lusts and lies, greedy moments and prodigal years. A list of our sins.

The list, however, cannot be read. The words can’t be deciphered. The mistakes are covered. The sins are hidden. Those at the top are hidden by his hand; those down the list are covered by his blood.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Twice in As Many Days....

...I felt the fragility of life.  (fra-JIL-ih-tee) no?  

A few days back, my twitter followers know this, I about burned my house down.  I had barbecued chicken, eaten the meal outside with my family and then put everything away.  I came inside to read a book that I needed to finish while Sarah put the kids to bed and I heard rain outside.  I glanced out the window, and...no rain.  I thought, "There must be a goose rummaging around in the bushes!" (they eat Sarah's plants)  So I ran out to shoe it away...but instead, I looked to my left and two bushes were completely engulfed in flames.  I was hearing the crackling of a roaring fire.  Not awesome.  I have rarely, if ever, been more frightened and pessimistic about the salvation of my house.  I ran back inside and yelled, "Sarah! FIRE!" Called 911, hit the Fire button on the security system and started to fill the trash can up with water when Sarah ran past me and said, "Hose!"  (One word sentences are the best you can do when panicked)  I remembered that the garden hose is right next to the burning bushes...ha, never put that together...and after 5 frustrating seconds of a gentle "shower" wash, I turned the hose to "Jet" and doused that sucker and saved my family.  I'm the hero but also the dunce that started the fire and never thought of using the hose.  The Fire Department came in two trucks and 5 Firemen walked through my house, much to Daniel's delight.  It was all a bit embarrassing.   Thank God He let me hear the sound of the crackling, if I had been in another room, or had music playing...

The very next day, we're over at some friends with their two boys and three other boys that were over (7 little boys under the age of 7) We're casually talking at the table when we notice a lady outside sprinting to the front door.  Dan Hannon (my friend and producer of 1st two albums) answers the door and she says, "Does anybody have a little boy named Daniel?"  Sarah joins the sprint having no clue why she asked that question.  It turns out that Daniel and Eli (5 years old) went out to play on the trampoline.  Eli was done and wanted to go inside, Daniel didn't want to, so Eli (as any 5 year old would) said "okay, see ya."  Daniel, completely independent as he is for a 2 year old, began walking around the neighborhood, talked to a lady 3 doors down, told her his name and said that he was playing in the yard.  He had no clue where he was...he got turned around.  

Can you imagine if we randomly discovered that we didn't know where Daniel was?  We got the good news first: he was found.  

God, thank you for letting me keep my family around one more day. 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Memorial...Video...Festival...

Hey all.  Wanted to tell you about the...powerful week I had last week.  

Omaha: Last year, Sam Thomsen went on a Boy Scott retreat when Tornados ripped through the area killing 4 scouts on the trip.  Sam was 13 when he died.  His devestated family chose My Savior My God to be one of the songs played at Sam's funeral, the words brought comfort and they recalled Sam 'rocking out' to the chorus when it would come on the radio.  Six months later, during the Christmas season, the four families of the boys decided to meet at the camp grounds in remembrance of their lost loved ones.  Sharon, Sam's mom, told me she was praying for God to speak peace to her heart when, in the midst of the non-stop Christmas music, My Savior My God was played.  Then again the next day on the way home!  They invited me to come and perform for Sam's one year memorial and I of course agreed.  Meeting the family, the friends and the town was humbling and stirring.  I doubt I'll ever cease to marvel at seeing the Lord work peace into the hearts of people in obvious pain.  The tears flowed freely that evening as I watched Larry and Sharon in the front row and it seemed that every word I'd ever written was for them to hear. 
Sharon told me they'd just bought a Japanese Lilac, which blooms every June, to honor Sam.  The worker who helped them buy it not only looked like Sam but shared his name!  Store policy demanded the worker's first name and the customer's last name be on the tree, so on yellow tape around the trunk was the name "Sam...Thomsen."  As Larry pulled the car around, he rolled down the window and guess what was on the radio...

The next day, I shot a video in Nashville for To God Alone...my first video shoot ever...we'll see :)

Then off to Michigan for my 4th visit to the Big Ticket Festival.  We flew into Detroit and drove 4 hours north to arrive 10 minutes after we were supposed to actually begin!  So I plugged in my acoustic and told the crowd, "Sorry we're late...if you're interested in stage set up, check out behind me, but if you feel like joining me in worshiping our God, just close your eyes and sing with me!"  (or something like that)  So by the time we sang Open the Eyes, We Fall Down and Here I Am To Worship (with an acoustic and 1,000+ loud voices!) the band was ready!  We rocked out half of our intended set before the shepherd's crooked yanked us off stage, Josh was actually playing for Natalie Grant's set 10 minutes later, then we drove back to Detroit!  3 hours of sleep (2.5) then we flew home.    And I've been sleeping ever since. 

It's crazy, but I love my job.  Thanks for letting me keep it!
a

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kenya Coldplay California KLOVE KSBJ Crazy.

I really need to blog more than twice a month, because then there's just too much to process and you don't want to read a 5 page blog.  

I told you about my first day in Africa.  We spend 3 days total visiting Compassion Projects from slums similar to the one in Slumdog Millionaire (just a different continent) to one 2 hours away in a Masai Village to a pre-sponsorship facility in the Rift Valley for toddlers and young mothers. Seeing the difference in the faces of those who were a part of these projects as opposed to those not involved was astounding.  Hope vs. Hopelessness.   We ended the trip seeing the beauty and grandeur of Africa by going on Safari!  Young Warthogs, Herds of Elephant, Crashes of Rhino, Hungry Hippos, Gazelles of all kinds, Cape Buffalo, Lion Prides, Giraffe Towers...unbelievable.  The country and the people are equally exquisite.  I'm still trying to process the whole trip in my mind.  I experienced so much it's hard to verbalize. 

After my return, I took a trip with my family to Pittsburgh to reunite with old and dear friends, we saw a Coldplay concert, attended my home church and ate classic Aliquippa food like Mac's Donuts and Breezy's Pizza.  We spent the last night hanging out at Mark and Rachel's eating amazing Ceasar's Pasta and taking turns riding a Quad ('4-wheeler' as they say in the South) and staying up way past bedtimes (for kids and adults) Great times though.  

I'm now sitting in the Houston Hobby Airport after a quick visit to K-LOVE and AIR-1 in Sacremento; they let me be a part of their morning shows and played To God Alone: thanks guys.  And the same this morning on KSBJ here in Houston.  Mayra called into the station and even stopped by to hang out while I was there.  She got some airtime!  After breakfast with Chris Hauser and Jim Beeler at the Humble Cafe, I came nice & early to the airport and discovered there's a flight leaving for Atlanta right now!  I tried to jump on since I have no baggage and want to get home.  (7.5 hours of sleep in the last 54) 

The gate agent told me, "I can get you on the flight for $50."
I said, "Hmm...But there Are empty seats, right?"
"Yes"
"And I'd be making a seat available on the next flight, right?"
"Yes"
"So someone else could have my seat then..."
"for $50."

What if you picked out something from my table at a concert, then changed your mind before you opened it/wore it and wanted an even trade.  I wouldn't charge you a Change Fee.  I don't get it. 

But...perhaps I don't know the whole story.  Anyhow, now I have time to blog.  

Hope everyone is doing well. 
Was this 5 pages long?


Monday, May 18, 2009

Kenya















This is my first trip to Africa.  I'm here with Compassion International on a tour that Big Stuf Ministries out of Atlanta, Georgia is taking for their Summer Intern leaders to experience the work of Compassion first hand in the country of Kenya.  They were kind enough to let me tag along. 

We flew from Atlanta to Amsterdam in 8 hours, then to Nairobi in another 8.   I bought a smoothie 30 minutes before the flight when Keith Bordeaux with Compassion, a seasoned international traveler, offered me an Ambien to help me sleep.  I said thanks and popped it in my mouth.  With a mouthful of smoothie to help me swallow, everyone at the table yelled, "You're taking it now!?"  Gulp.  

By the time I was boarding the plane, I was speaking nonsense, shot a video of Keith from my seat, took two close-up pictures of my face and sent a twitter message for all 2,800 followers to see saying "Mocing. 8 hours. I love you.  We're going to watch a wideo now.  Luv u.  I have hiccyps!!!"   I not only have no clue what that means, but I don't remember doing any of it.  

I'm think I'm done with the Ambien.

We all checked into our hotel here in Nairobi, grabbed a quick bite and headed for bed.  This morning we visited the slums of Kibera, an area of 1 million people in the size of Central Park.  We visited the Emmanuel Church Child Development Center and saw how God is rescuing the lives of children (like Ruth, above) through donations from people all over the world, giving them hope and joy and dreams!  We sang, worshiped, laughed, played soccer, raced, ate, held hands, gave huge hugs, visited one little girl's home (about the size of my hotel room...which is small) and fell in love with the People of Kenya. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lessons from the BBQ

Incredibly gorgeous day here in Atlanta, GA.  I don't know what the temp is, but feels like the high may have been around 80 degrees.  Mostly sunny, so every once in a while you get the big cloud exposing a cooler breeze.  Sarah asked if I wanted to perform the first barbeque of the year.  I enthusiastically obliged and figured I'd teach Daniel how to prepare a charcoal grill.  Something every 2 year old should know. 

After stacking the perfect pyramid of Kingston briquettes and igniting them with an over abundance of Kingston lighter fluid (no, I'm not sponsored by Kingston) we lit the powpow (2-year old for "fire") and let the charcoals burn!  The pyramid, for those of you who don't know, creates a shape where the charcoal briquettes become their own little oven, trapping a lot of the heat inside.  By the time the flame extinguishes, the briquettes continue to heat each other and after about 15 minutes, even without a flame, all of the briquettes are white hot!  My Dad taught me all this. 

About 5 minutes after the flame died, I placed the top rack in its place, I guess just to see if it still fit...it did...and when I removed it, I knocked over my pyramid, scattering the charcoal in all directions...I ran inside to grab some tongs so I could re-stack them.  If they stayed spread out, they'd cool and never get white hot.  I'd have to re-ignite them then.   I'm explaining all this to Daniel while he watched from a safe distance of 2 feet.  "If the charcoals don't stay close together, they won't stay hot anymore, they need to stay close together and then they'll stay warm."

Sometimes it takes listening to yourself making things very simple for a child to grasp to understand why Jesus explained theology through simple stories.  In reassembling the pyramid, I was struck by the need for community.  By the danger of being alone.  Iron sharpening Iron.  It is not good that man be alone.  There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.   I am an introvert: I recharge when I'm alone...or even when I'm just with my family, but I can't ignore the fact that I greatly benefit from spending time with brothers and sisters in Christ who can not only encourage me, walk beside me and lead me, but maybe there's someone out there who needs me to help keep their fire burning.   By keeping myself on the outskirts, I'm not only helping their fire die out...but I myself will soon become too cold to be of any use.  

...time to flip the chicken.   

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Warren Ohio Concert

Last night's show in Warren, Ohio was crazy fun.  Well, maybe not crazy...but a lot of fun.  This is only the 2nd time I'd done a solo show (with no one else on stage playing along), and while the whole thing lasted just over 2 hours, time seemed to fly.   The place was packed (thanks Paul Armitage for incredible promotion!) and we worshiped together, whether we sang familiar songs or listened to new ones.   Thank you, Ohio, for an incredible evening.  I was blessed to be able to worship with you and hang out in a giant living room, per se. 

Let's do it again sometime. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passion Week

I'm trying to read through the Book of John this week.  I like to read books (of the Bible) in one sitting when possible, although with a couple kids, that's tough.  But I've read through 13 chapters so far today, and while many, Many things seem to jump out at you, when you read straight through, one in particular caught my attention.  Jesus makes no bones about Who He Is.   Which I found undeniably fascinating, because I hear it said so much (like on the History Channel) how Jesus simply wanted to be seen as a very good man and nothing else.

These people clearly never read the book of John.  

Jesus, at least from John's prospective, seems to weave it into every conversation He has with anybody.  Multiple times, people try to stone Jesus, but He slips away, because it wasn't God's time.  Amazing book, truly.  

I plan to finish reading it now, if I can, and since I'm home taking care of Sarah and the boys, I may watch The Passion of the Christ tomorrow night instead of Maundy Thursday services...not as entertainment: it's just not that kind of movie.  (I remember seeing it in the theatre and finding the purchase of popcorn...bothersome?)  

God bless this weekend, and however you commemorate this weekend, make sure you do it in remembrance of Him. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Eddie's Got An Attic

The show last night in Atlanta was quite different than what I'm used to doing.  It was held at Eddie's Attic, a local hot spot that I am ashamed to say I've never been to.  Rock For Justice was the name of the event and the plan was to sell tickets and tables in order to raise money to help stop sex trafficking within the city of Atlanta.  Over $10,000 was raised!  

My longtime friends Ryan Van Kirk and Brian Duffy (my current bass player) have formed a band, written a few great songs and recorded them with Dan Hannon.  They'd just started their set when I walked in the back of the vibey, trendy room, packed with people on a sold out evening, a bar in the middle, tables all around, people standing, sitting, eating, drinking and shushing themselves silent while the lineup of singer songwriters played their 15 minutes each.   In between each set, Garrett Moore, one of the artists and a staple there at Eddie's, MC'd the event and gave the crowd snippets of info on the reason we were there and updates on the amount of money raised in addition to ticket sales. 

I was honored to play last and was given a little flexibility because of that.  So I squeezed 5 songs into about 17 minutes.  It felt like 10.   I played 2 new songs then went backward in time:

Take Over
Ever After (a song a parent would sing to their child about the truth behind fairy tales)
Give Me Words To Speak (with the crowd supplying the Na-Na's so beautifully)
Watch Over Me
My Savior My God

Thanks to Pamela for helping me with my hair and makeup (she showed up after it was sold out, but helped me actually find the place, so I got her and her friend Betsy in, as long as they agreed to do my "hair and makeup"  ...then we decided that I wouldn't use any.)

Check out some of the line up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tragedy from California

This past Sunday a plane went down, South of Butte, Montana, killing all fourteen people aboard.  Seven of them where children.  They were flying from Oroville, CA, which happens to be where I have a concert scheduled for this Saturday.  

Please pray for the families who have lost loved ones.  I cannot imagine the condition I would be in if I lost my little boys.  This is real; as real as every tragic story that we get barraged with in the media.  But people are grieving.  Pray also for myself and Sterling and Eric as we travel to California and attempt to bring some healing that can only be found in the Love of God. 

Click Here to read the whole story.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sometimes We Do...


I went for a run today and while I try not to write music that I don't enjoy (it's okay to like your own artwork) I have a hard time hearing my own voice.  But I have a tour with Chris Sligh coming up this Fall that I'm preparing for with new songs from the new album and I was mainly thinking of 'researching' the recording from last year.  

Anyhow, surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it.  Shane Hamill was my soundman and did a phenomenal job mixing it, Duffy, Josh and Scotty are all just incredible musicians and I not only love those guys, but I love playing live with them.   Worthy was the first song in the concert and as I was starting my run (it's a great tempo for running) I actually started to get a little emotional, just a big fat worship tune that's hard to sing...but I thought it sounded great...granted it's raw...straight from the speakers, no post production polishing, so you can hear our share of mistakes, but i guess that's what makes it real. 

If you've never been to one of my shows, or you have and you'd like to relive it over and over and over, it's available for purchase and immediate download, thanks to the amazing people at discrevolt.  I think this last show in Pittsburgh was one of the more enjoyable nights of the tour, and I was reminded today how special of an evening this was every night for us!   

My new single will be available soon off the new album, which is due 8/4, so enjoy this in the meanwhile!  I've even posted Come To Me on my myspace page to give you a feel for one of the more 'chill' moments of the night.  Here's the set list:
Aaron Shust
Whispered & Shouted Tour
Pittsburgh, PA 
04.18.08
Worthy/Let All I Do
Matchless/Blessed Be Your Name
Long Live The King
Give Me Words To Speak
Can't Hide From Your Love
Stillness (Speak To Me)
Watch Over Me
My Savior My God
Give It All Away
----------
More Wonderful
'Burgh Boy (for the locals)
One Day 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Intercessor


I read a pretty moving thing yesterday.  I'm reading U2 By U2.  It's a book about U2, written by U2...if you couldn't figure that out. 

Back during the Joshua Tree Tour, I think, they were doing a large outdoor concert in LA and Bono was receiving more than a few death threats because of his political stances.   One seemed to be pretty authentic and stated that if U2 performed Pride (In The Name of Love) at the LA show, Bono would be killed.  Security was obviously uber-tight, but the show went on.  

Bono says that when it came time to sing the last verse, about Martin Luther King Jr, he just closed his eyes and sang it with all he had, more than a little nervous.   When he opened his eyes, Adam, his bass player, was standing right in front of him.  

That's where the story ended, and while I got choked up at the story of a brother's love and actual willingness to take a bullet for a friend, I couldn't help but think, "What a perfect picture of Christ taking the bullet for us.  What a perfect picture of Christ standing in front of us on judgement day, as we stand before The Perfect, Holy God of the Universe, who looks upon us in our imperfect, far from holy state...but He sees His Son, standing in front of us. 

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, The Man Christ Jesus"
I Timothy 2:5

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Don't Jump

I got home from a somewhat local show last night around 11:30pm.   I led worship and did 'special music' for a Revival at a Baptist Church down the road in little Monroe, GA.  Great town, great people, great food.  They took really good care of me.   For those of you who don't know what a Revival is, this is not the unplanned revival that happens when the Spirit of God points out areas of your life that need work and you actually listen to Him, this is a time where the church gets together every night for a few days and a speaker speaks and singers sing, and hopefully, the Spirit does what I just mentioned He's prone to do, and hopefully we respond. :)

Anyway, I came home and Sarah was still awake, so we talked about the evening, and as we were getting ready to go to bed and started turning off the lights downstairs, she told me, "I think you need to make more money."  I paused and thought about all that she could possibly mean.  I'm thinking, "well, I could try to play more often, I'd hate to raise my price for no good reason, ...I feel I'm doing the best I can."   So without saying anything, I just kinda stopped and looked at her, like, "I...don't know what to do with that."

Then she realized what I thought she meant.  See, a couple days ago, Daniel found some money in Sarah's Bible that was given to us by a relative for both boys.  He was having a blast with it, using it as a flying carpet for some of his toy men.  I thought that wasn't the best idea, and he got very sad when I took it from him...so I decided to draw him one.  I placed my Great Grandfather on the bill instead of Ulysses S. Grant & explained to Daniel that this was Pappy's Pappy.  (All 3 of them named Daniel Nicholas Shust)  ...and Sarah simply thought that I should make (draw) some more money...for Daniel to play with.   ...ah Ha!

Proverbs 25:8 says, "Don't jump to conclusions-there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw"  ...or in my case 'heard'.   My story was a harmless thing we laughed about immediately...but how often do we find ourselves believing what we want to believe about something or someone that may not be true at all?   God, help us take a baby-step toward holiness today and heed the advice in Proverbs 25:8. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rest

Sitting outside in the freezing cold
But the sun is bright 
and my coffee's bold

No, that's not a lyric from the new album.   ...kinda sounds like Vanilla Ice.  We actually share a birthday.

Anyhow, I must admit, I've struggled for a few weeks with having just a few gigs, while other artists were touring the country, as if I were doing something wrong, or that 'my time' was up.  But, I don't think that's true, I think I'm just in an in-between-albums-season that has me home.   I'm still working on stuff for the future, the new album, a title, artwork, photo shoot ideas, I need to write all 12 song journals for you guys to read (which i love to do).  So it's been great to be home and eat Sarah's cooking and sleep in my own bed and play with my two boys.  It's a blessing.  Thank you, God.   Speaking of which, Daniel just walked outside in his navy PJs and Elmo snow boots.  It's not snowing, but uncle Nick bought them for $2 at a Salvation Army when we were in PA.   Daniel loves them.  a little too much.
So, instead of fun stories from the road, you're going to keep getting fun stories from home.  Or in this case, deep thoughts by Aaron Shust.  Shallow-deep.  This morning, I was taking Daniel downstairs to fix him some "e-mail" (oatmeal) and it was chilly in the house (66).  We have hardwoods downstairs, so I was putting socks on his little feet.  I sat him on my lap at the top of the stairs and he got a little wobbly and scared, "Anyo paul down?" (Daniel fall down?)  "You hold on tight, buddy," I told him, then realizing that he's sitting on my lap, facing out, he really can't hold on at all.  So I told him, "Don't worry, bud, Daddy's going to hold on to you, I'm not going to let you fall down the stairs"  And he relaxed; he trusted me. 

Maybe you see where I'm going, 'cause it hit me like a ton of bricks.  How often to I TRY to hold to God for dear life AS IF THAT'S WHAT'S GOING TO DO THE SAVING.   Nothing against Mr.Powell, whom I highly esteem, when he sings "Hold On To Jesus" cause I sing along to that song with gusto, and I need to remind myself to hold on, just like any chance Daniel gets to hold on to my neck when we're on the slippery stairs, he does!  But sometimes you just can't.  

It's in those moments that we need to trust that He Holds On To Us.  Jude 24 calls God "the One who is able to keep us from falling!"  

One of my favorite songs on the new album sings this chorus:
Rest in the arms of the One who holds you
Rest in the arms of the One who knows you
Rest in the arms of the One who won't let go

Friday, February 13, 2009

San Valentino

Valentine's Day plans: Spill em! Are you planning to do anything?
Before Sarah decided she wanted to hang out with me forever, I once went to a greasy spoon and ordered one hamburger and one hot dog. All my friends were on dates. So sad stories are okay too.

We...aren't really big on holidays (besides T-day, Christmas and birthdays sorta), so we're not dressing up in red and going to a nice restaurant. (but if you're doing that, it's cool) we're dropping one of my favorite meals to my friends Julia and Hayden, cause Julia just had a baby! (I'm not telling you what we're bringing, Julia, you'll have to wait to find out!) then we're all driving up to hang out with my parents and brother's family for the day...and even spend the night. It really has nothing to do with Valentine's Day, it's just the weekend. Dad is BBQ'ing ribs which will be amazing and take up 2 bottles of BBQ sauce probably. Probably not, but they're good. So it feels more like Memorial Day, but hey, there's a lot of love bouncing around in our family. So here's to San Valentino.

So back to my question: what's your plan? Don't worry, I doubt your spouses/better halves will read this. You won't spoil anything.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Watch Over Me: Part III

My voice is almost completely back.  Which is good, I'm recording today.  Last Thursday I was in Corinth, MS when many of you were praying that my voice would return in time for the evening show (thank you.  it did, Praise God!)  and Sarah, my wife, called me that afternoon to see how I was feeling and told me she had a God Story to tell me.  She's not the kind of person that just throws around 'God stories', so I took notice.  She started by saying, "Just so you know up front, everyone's fine: no one is hurt."  While that was supposed to comfort me, it strangely made me a little tense.  

She had just laid Nicky down for a nap and determined to not pick him up in the event he cried.  Too much of that and your kid will never learn to fall asleep on his/her own.  She crossed the hall to play with Daniel and build some towers with blocks.  Nicko started to cry and even as she was thinking "let him go", she stood up to check on him.  When she walked into the room, she felt an urgency to remove him from the room immediately, even though he was sound asleep again (within seconds!)  The same urgency, she said, as if the room were on fire.    She scooped him up and laid him on Daniel's bed, and now he's crying.  "What Mom wakes up a finally sleeping infant?", she asked me.   Then she walked back into the nursery to see what in the world her problem was...and the shelf fell out of the wall and into the crib!   She said she just stood there with her jaw to the floor. 

I'm still at a loss for words.  How Cool that God would choose to spare us the potential trauma that little Nicky could have experienced, by impressing on Sarah to act contrary to logic.  Granted we still have accidents and bruises and spilt blood, and tragic things happen to God's children every day.  But every once in a while, God reminds us that He IS involved in our daily lives...and that He's watching over us!  

Any "God Stories" out there?  Where it was obvious that God stepped in?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Speechless

I traveled to Pittsburgh for the Superbowl to watch with many of my Pittsburgh friends, and contracted a nice little sore throat the first night up there.  My friends made sure we had a humidifier on in the room and my family is fine, but I woke up with a painful throat.  It progressed over the weekend and by the time we crammed 48 people into the Witterman house for the Superbowl, I think I killed my voice trying to talk over the excited din of fellow Pittsburgh fans. 
Usually my voice returns the morning after I use it too much.  But 3 full days later, I'm still whispering.  I've had to cancel a gig tonight (happening right now without me) 2 meetings, a recording and a radio interview so I can stay home and get my voice back for the concert tomorrow in Corinth, MS with Mr Crowder and his band.   

But I'm also listening and reviewing my new songs for the new album.  It's strange to think that's me singing.  Hearing myself do what I, at the moment, can no longer do.  It's scary actually, will my voice ever come back?  What if it doesn't?  What will I do and who will I be if my voice doesn't come back?  Am I a singer?  Or am I simply a child of God that can be loved by Him, and love others and be used by Him, even if I'm hoarse for the rest of my life. 

Job lost his family and his livelihood.  What could you not possibly imagine God taking from you?  Would you be able to say in the words of Job 1:21 "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chilling on the Laptop

I took this photo from my laptop.  Or notebook, whatever you prefer to call it.  It's a Mac.  That's what's important.  So you can picture me sitting on the couch with the laptop on the coffee table, and Daniel grabbed his little Fisher-Price Laptop, (which by the way enabled him to identify the names, shapes and sounds of all 26 letters before he was 2)  Fun little bonding moment.  

But it serves as a reminder how much kids mimic adults, especially their parents, but my boy spent one day hanging out with a kid who says "yea" instead of "yes" and now 2 years worth of good manners is out the window.   We are ALL influencers!  People, children especially, watch how we act around the house, in public, family, friend or stranger, and often adopt that behavior to make it their own.  Frankly, I don't want my boys to think of a laptop when they think of Daddy.  :)  

So I'm going to log off, and read some of the Word.  Because I need to be influenced by those thoughts, truths and actions, and let my boys see me doing so.  

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where In the World...?



Hey guys.  I'm trying to find out WHERE I found this photo.  We MAY use it for a Tour Poster if I can get permission from the photographer and he/she can send us a higher resolution!  I found it on someone's myspace last year.  It's from a show I did at California Baptist University, Sept 13, 2007 in Riverside, California.   If anyone knows anything, send some info to mitch@bhccmgt.com if you would.  

Here's to hoping. :)

a

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sad News in the CCM World

I got news this morning from my friend and Radio Promoter, Chris Hauser, that a friend in Christian music tragically passed away:

"Ron McClelland of Gotee act Storyside:B collapsed today during a basketball game on a Christian cruise, and could not be revived.  Since December Ron had been co-hosting WCRJ/Jacksonville's morning show with Theresa Ross as well.  Please keep Ron's wife Rebekah (also on the cruise), the band, and WCRJ's staff in your prayers in the difficult days ahead"

I cannot fathom the sadness that must be in the hearts of those who lived close to Ron day in and day out.  Ron always had a big smile and a big heart.  His words were never anything but kind and complimentary.  I believe that we will see him again.  In the meanwhile, he will be missed.  Let's lift up his family in prayer as we think of them. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sterling Bloomfield, Ladies and Gentlemen


I told Sterling he's getting a blog dedicated to himself.  This is it.  

Got a gig offer last summer for a United Methodist Regional Youth Conference in Ocean City, MD for Jan 11th, 2009.  I accepted and one of the next steps is letting my band know about the date.  Some of you may have figured out that I'm a solo artist which means if I want a band, I hire the players.  I believe in strength in community and consistency, so I've worked on finding the right sound and chemistry and have found it in Duffy, Josh and Scotty.  However, sometimes they're not available because of prior commitments with other bands or a wedding: whatever.  So I have to have great back-ups.  

Duffy would miss his own wedding to play for me: so I've never had to even think about that.  If Josh is out with Dave Barnes, Ashley Appling is a Killer drummer (check out his site: all you aspiring drummers) but I haven't had a back-up for Scotty.  
Scotty tells me in September, "dude I'm out on a month long tour in January with Jessie Baylin, but there's this kid at my church who plays just like me and even kinda looks like me: I could teach him your songs, and you won't even know I'm not there."  Bingo.  I flew Sterling Bloomfield, who just turned 17, out to Ocean City from Yuma, Arizona (via Phoenix, Philly and Salisbury) to play a 45 minute set on Sunday morning and fly him home in time for school on Monday.   He learned all the songs over Christmas break, playing every single nuance that Scotty plays, and when he arrived at the tiny Salisbury airport, his pedal board (the custom collection of pedals that creates the sounds we all enjoy from electric guitars) didn't show up!  Lost in transit somewhere between Yuma and Salisbury!  

After much debate on what to do (just trio? acoustic set?) Duffy gave Sterling his tuner pedal and I gave him my Delay Pedal I use on my Piano (which he'd never used before) Duffy gave him a 2 minute tutorial, and after striking one of the two amps he planned to use, we rocked the show.  And he sounded amazing.   

Basically he created a HD signal with rabbit ears. 
He painted a colorful Monet with black and white crayons.  
He ran a marathon with a peg leg.  And won. 

I have a back up.   Sterling Bloomfield ladies and gentlemen.