Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas: Truly Humbling

Up too late last night wrapping "just a couple" presents with my wife. Up early enough to video record my 2 boys' faces as they waddled out to the living room in their PJs, rubbing their eyes and dropping their toddler jaws upon seeing the presents under the tree for the first time.

That was over an hour ago, my parents are up, stockings have been opened and little toys are being played with. Sarah is working on Christmas Waffles, the train is taking slow laps around the tree and through tunnels made of presents, Pappy is reading the paper by the fire and Michael W. Smith's first Christmas album is filling the air. And the smell of breakfast sausage. After we eat we'll read the Christmas story, thank Jesus and celebrate the Greatest Gift by watching little glimpses of joy on each other's faces as we tear open our gifts that pale in comparison to Jesus Himself.

I posted a tweet December 12th that said:
I'm confused when someone receives a high honor & says that it's humbling. If I'm honored, I must battle pride, my sinfulness humbles me.
One person who responded explained that when we realize that it is truly Christ in us, it is a humbling thing. But I feel like that truth is a few steps away in the thought process. (If someone told you that you looked absolutely beautiful today, I doubt you would react by thinking, "Wow, that was humbling.")

Humble: adjective. having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance

For example, when Steven Curtis Chapman received his 50th Dove award, I'd venture a guess that the Gospel Music Association's intention was to honor him for his contribution, his work, his ministry. Now, Steven knows where his gifts and talents come from and he gives all glory and honor to God. Steven's act of giving all glory and honor to God is the humbling part! He is exalting God above himself, therefore placing himself in a lower position. But it was still an honor he received, make no mistake. It was honoring.

Humble: verb. to lower (someone) in dignity or importance

This may be an issue of semantics, maybe we've become comfortable with receiving honors and saying it was humbling, offering quotes that could show up on @humblebrag. The last thing I want to do when I offer someone a compliment, a gift or an honor is to lower their dignity or importance!

Paul says in Philippians 2 that "Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!"

This, in my opinion, is the ultimate humiliation, the ultimate lowering of One's Self. Jesus, the Word Who was in the beginning as God, the Creator of all things, lowered Himself in dignity and importance, being born in an animals' feeding trough to a poor couple in a small, marginalized town.

But the angels sang of His worth.
The shepherds knelt in awe.
Kings from the far East brought priceless gifts to the King of Kings.

James 4:10 screams the truth of this Upside down Kingdom: Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.

King Jesus, allow us to see ourselves truly and humbly, so however You would choose to honor us, we would choose to lower ourselves again by lifting high Your greatness: acknowledging Your worth!

Merry Christmas, my friends.
aaron

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Sunday Break

Yesterday, Sunday, was a big day for our family. I was leading worship at church and needed to be at there around 7:15 in the morning, Sarah was teaching Sunday School on a simple little subject: The Manifestations of God. (That was sarcastic). But given the nature of the Holiday season's busyness, she wasn't able to spend as much time in preparation as she'd have wanted, so she was up quite late Saturday night preparing. She did a fantastic job of course and the worship service was God-honoring, I believe, as the Spirit loves to work through human flesh. Our pastor had been sick all night and again right before the service, and you never would have known it.

We grabbed some Chinese/Sushi after church and brought it home, made a fire and began to unwind. By 3pm we decided it was nap time, the boys had had 3 less hours of sleep than normal the night before and Sarah probably only totaled 3 hours. I set my alarm for a 45 minute cat-nap. And subsequently ignored my alarm. I sprang out of bed over 3 hours later (after dark mind you) feeling a little guilty. I woke the family, tried to explain to my boys why we were waking up when it was dark, re-stoked the fire, Sarah made some Cream of Wheat (Sunday night tradition) and we settled into a family movie night (Toy Story 1). Sarah and I discussed the beauty of the Sunday afternoon much-needed rest, thankful for a lazy day.

Then Nicky fell off the piano bench and fractured his collar bone. We didn't return from Children's Hospital until 2am.

Even though I didn't remotely feel this way when he first fell, what a privilege to take care of my family when they were in need, and how gracious of God to allow us 3 hour naps before our long night began!

Your prayers for Nicky's quick recovery are appreciated! :)
a

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forgive Yourself

Structure is something that I love but struggle with because I love freedom.

I love the idea of blogging and I love the idea of working it into my schedule but as you can see from the date of my last post, I am not what anyone would call 'consistent' at blogging regularly.

I had all intention of doing a daily blog after each of my shows this fall, and I didn't do one.

Where does that leave me? I have the choice to beat myself up about it. I can choose to accept my imperfection and just throw in the towel: not even try. Or, I can choose to try. (Trying = more than just hoping)

Now that I'm home for a season, I desire to establish a home-routine, waking up at a certain time, incorporating exercise, Bible reading, study, blogging and getting a good chunk of work done before lunch, therefore giving me the rest of the day to be free with my family. I want to do more journaling so that I'll forget less of the millions of things that happen every day that I won't remember this time next year. (Like how my boy says "aminals" instead of "animals.") Things I will fail to do consistently.

Do I have enough grace to forgive myself of my little failings and keep trying?

I don't, frankly, and I often project my lack of grace toward myself on God, assuming that His grace toward me surely has run dry. But His love is an everlasting love. His mercies are new every morning. Those of you who are not parents need to believe that we parents LOVE to forgive our kids when it is obvious they are truly sorry. It breaks our hearts to see them contrite. We forgive, love, hug, cry with and restore. How much more our Heavenly Father? He is Good. He is Love.

Is forgiving yourself important? Remember Jesus' words, "Neither do I condemn you!"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Hope Is In You Devotional from DELUXE EDITION

[My Hope Is In You was brilliantly written by April Geesbreght and resonates with the cry of my heart found throughout my latest album, THIS IS WHAT WE BELIEVE. My Deluxe Edition CD contains 6 additional songs (4 acoustic remixes and 2 new) and a devotional corresponding with each song. The following is the devotional I wrote for the song, My Hope Is In You.]


--------------

As I'm typing this, the states of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi are dealing with the repercussions of the most severe tornadic activity in our nation's history. Entire towns were flattened, the death toll was already in the hundreds after 24 hours with hundreds more missing. I read this morning that University of Alabama students are asking for prayer as they pull bodies out from the wreckage on campus.


Earthquakes have recently devastated Japan and Chile, the repercussions of which will last a lifetime for those who have lost loved ones.


Death is a part of every life. And that fact in no way diminishes the gravity, difficulty and emotional pain it can bring to those of us who remain.


When my 2-year-old boy, Nicky, was diagnosed with Eosinaphilic Esophogitis (EE), a rare, painful and, thus far, incurable disease, it rocked my family to our core. It dropped us to our knees, face-planted us in prayer. I wept like I've never wept before. He spent months in Children's hospital and on December 6th, two days after his 2nd birthday, we found out that he had Septic Shock, his organs had dropped, a 104 degree fever hadn't broken for days and he was admitted into what we accidentally discovered was called "the bereavement wing" of the PICU; where children don't normally get discharged.


When the ground on which you are standing begins to shake, you will naturally reach for the closest thing you believe to be the most stable or secure.


David says in Psalm 62, "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Fortress, I will not be shaken."


My wife, Sarah, and I have always believed that God has a plan. More than a plan: a Perfect plan, the end result of which is His increased glory! Its the kind of perfect plan that would make all of mankind spontaneously shout out loud for joy if we understood the half of it! So even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil, He is with us! He's promised He will never leave us or forsake us: even through the droughts and the storms. Before we were even blessed to become parents, Sarah and I spoke of the reality that if God graces us with children one day, we will simply be their caretakers, they will belong to Him and whether they live for 90 years or 9 days, He holds the measure of their days. Who are we to say how long anyone is supposed to live? Can we improve on God's perfect plan?


The foundation on which we stood was rock solid. We were not the solid ones. He is. Our hope is in Him alone. The peace that passes understand was our song. Multiple nurses would spend their downtime in Nicky's room and tell Sarah, "There's such a peace in here!" Then Sarah would tell them why.


And on one glorious day, a befuddled doctor told us that the most severe case of EE they had ever witnessed was no longer remotely present in Nicky's little body.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CCM Posts

If you haven't heard, I've been throwing down my thoughts on worship in CCM magazine recently. Give her a read and feel free to jump in with your own thoughts!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PROMO TOUR - August 22-25

We're driving from Fort Wayne Indiana to Chicago right now. Literally driving into the sunset. It's been one week since we started this promo tour and I am definitely feeling an interesting combination of fatigue and excitement.


Monday morning, Greg and I had a 4:20am lobby call in Seattle and flew to Kansas City where we met with Jen Allen from Centricity to do a show at a local Chick-Fil-A with KLJC 88.5. It was pretty cool to stand outside and lead a parking lot full of people in worship!


The next morning, we had another 4:20 lobby call and flew to Dallas, TX to visit KLTY 94.9, they let me play My Hope and MSMG on the morning show then I chilled with John Hudson on the New Music Cafe program for a while. We zipped off to Vista Ridge Mall for a noon concert in the center of the Mall under the giant glass rotunda. A mall full of Texans praising Jesus in the Mall is a thing to hear!


We liked it so much we did it again the next day in Winston Salem, NC, but not before I lost my luggage. We boarded our Delta flight a couple hours after the Dallas show and as we tried to finally take off, the Captain said that we'd sheared a drive shaft in the starter of engine #1. They wouldn't cancel the flight because it MIGHT get fixed. It ended up being delayed for 5 hours…we were guaranteed to miss our connection in Atlanta to get us to Greensboro, NC in time! So we booked flights on American Airlines to get us to Charlotte ASAP. (But since the Delta flight never cancelled, they couldn't transfer us: had to buy new tickets) We gave descriptions of our 5 bags to change planes and left for Charlotte. But one bag never arrived. My clothes. The Baggage man said they found it and it would arrive in Greensboro on the Delta flight the next morning.


So we spent the night in Charlotte and drove to the Greensboro/Winston area the next morning in time to be on the WBFJ 89.3 morning show with Tami and Jeff (thanks Bonnie for making us pancakes!!) I played Your Majesty and My Hope is In You AND MSMG on that show. We always have a lot of fun on the morning shows to, they're fun people: morning show people. Jen went to pick up my luggage but returned with bad news. It hadn't arrived. Thankfully we were playing at another mall, so I hit Macy's for some essentials and PacSun for some T-shirts. Done. I played the show just outside the Macy's at noon to about 700 people. What an awesome testimony to people to hear that many people sing the words, "Jesus", "Holy Holy Holy", "This Is What We Believe", etc.


Straight to the airport to fly to Fort Wayne, I explained my luggage situation to Delta Debbie and she called American Linda who found my luggage in Charlotte!! I found Lifesaver Linda and asked her to expedite my luggage to Fort Wayne. We arrived in Fort Wayne around 9 and found out that my bag was arriving at 11:30pm after they would deliver. So Greg graciously offered to pick it up for me so I could sleep. Awwwww! Thank you Greg.


We visited WLAB Star 88.3 this morning and I just shared my heart and songs with the staff, they prayed for us, we prayed for them, it was beautiful. Then we went to Sweetwater (amazing!) and worshiped the Lord in a conference room with 130 people who were just fed pizza. It doesn't have to be in church on Sunday people, Jesus can be praised anywhere! We got a tour of the Sweetwater facility and then spent the afternoon with Melissa Montana (from Star 88.3) at DeBrand chocolates home store. Un. Real. Melissa shared stories and captivated us with God's amazing grace despite hardship. What a dear soul.


Hopped in the car, aimed it toward Chicago and put it in drive...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tour Journal - Philomath OR and Puyallup WA 8.21.11


PHILOMATH OR AND PUYALLUP WA,

21 & 22 August, 2011.


We could not have asked for more beautiful weather the past two days. Greg Lee, my friend/road manager and I drove from Seattle down to an hour South of Portland on Saturday to play at a 3 year old festival in the fine town of Philomath. (Fill-OH-muth.) It was a warm one, but we had a great time. A few brave souls, came all the way up to the stage and sat in the shade of the stage-roof. And at the end as I was walking off, a guy yelled, "GLORY TO YOU!" I smiled, nodded, pointed up and said, "Glory to Him!" Waving as I walked off he said, "No, 'Glory To You', play 'Glory To You'!" I haven't played that song since 2007 with MercyMe. I never would have guessed how much I missed playing that song. And I remembered all the words and the chord change from F# to E on the bridge. A miracle.


Third Day and Peter Furler were just up the road playing at FishFest in Portland and since I was doing a Solo show, Nate was available to play guitar for Peter as he was in a pinch (his entire band was playing somewhere else…you see, we all share, although I threatened Peter to not get too attached and that I'd fight him if he tried to take him. The 4 hour drive down and back to Seattle was full of Aussie tributes. We listened to Hillsong United Aftermath on the way down: that album is legend. Then I read aloud to greg tweets from two good friends how are hilarious and Aussie. So I read them all in my best Australian accent. Then we listened to Peter Furler's new album: also legend. Then we read some Rebecca St James tweets aloud for good measure. Or good "meezha."


Puyallup was a wallop of a day. (Pew-OL-up.) We had a soundcheck at 7:45am for church, I played My Hope Is In You and MSMG before the message and Your Majesty afterward. Pastor Ron Sanchez preached on Acts 2 and it was amazing. South Hill Calvary Chapel if you want to look it up and listen to the archive messages. The congregation sang along with Your Majesty with gusto and it was amazing. We had lunch on the water in Tacoma then headed back for a sold out show. People came to see Jesus, they came to worship him. They worshiped Him through singing, by lifting their hearts and minds and by partnering with OneVerse to bring the Word of God to the lughuru people of East Africa.


Twas a good night. 4 hours of sleep and flight to Kansas City later…here I type.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tour Journal - Lake Stevens, Washington 8.19.11

Friday was a big day in Seattle. We started the day at Spirit 105.3, I played MSMG and My Hope Is In You on the morning show with Matt, had a lunch with the staff and played them some songs, telling them some stories about the journey, we shot a twelve days of Christmas that Spirit 105.3 is going to do this year, should be hilarious. I got the 9 ladies dancing verse and we even coerced the station Music Director, Sarah Taylor to dance. Yep. You heard it hear first.


Friday's concert was the first time we were able to sell This Is What We Believe, just the standard edition, the deluxe editions haven't been shipped yet, although I did receive my copy and it is beautiful. I'm pretty excited. We're selling 2 Standard Edition CD's for $10 for the whole Promo Tour (until the Release Show in Atlanta on 8.28) which is a pretty sweet deal…another reason to come to the shows. :)


The HOUSE worship center was a cool, quaint little living room feel and I was glad to meet and be reacquainted with quite a few Twitter and Facebook followers. It was a small room and it felt very…"family" A family drove all the way from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to come to the show and requested during the set that I play Create Again…which I haven't played since 2007. Thankfully she had the words memorized and helped me through it. I haven't sung those words in so long, that they moved me to sing them again. Someone else brought a kleenex up to me after I told the story of Nicky and sang My Hope Is In You. It was a special night, a unique night. Less of a worship experience and more of a Storytellers hour (and a half) about songs written for a worship experience.


A good way to kick off a promo tour. :)


SET LIST

Sing of My Redeemer

Matchless (with Blessed Be Your Name)

To God Alone

Forevermore

Risen Today

Take Over (with Give It All Away)

Give Me Words To Speak

Create Again

My Hope Is In You

My Savior My God

Your Majesty (with Holy Holy Holy)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Devotional Sneak Peak!

The Deluxe Edition of This Is What We Believe comes with a Hardback book including a short devotional that corresponds with each song on the record. Here is a sneak peak of the devotional for the title track.


THIS IS WHAT WE BELIEVE


What do you believe? What you believe defines you. It defines who you are.

How you think.

How you act.

How you feel.

What you fear.

What you value.

What you love.

How you spend your time.

How you spend your money.


When a traffic light turns green you believe it safe to proceed.

When you step onto an airplane you believe the captain capable of operating it properly.

When you order food at a restaurant you trust the food is not poisoned.


None of these are givens, they require a substantial amount of faith.


You may or may not believe that there is Intelligent Design behind the forming of our intricate world.

If so, do you believe that Designer is aware of you?


You may or may not believe whether that Designer is what some refer to as "God".

If so, is God gracious and loving or angry at His creation?


You may or may not believe that people will be responsible for the actions committed during their lifetimes.

If so, believing in karma will cause you to live differently than if you believe your sin has a consequence.


If you are like me, you believe Jesus of Nazareth was more than a carpenter, more than a good teacher, more than a prophet. You believe that he was the Son of the One True God, Creator of the entire universe and the lover of your soul. You believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and came to be the Lamb without blemish, God's Lamb, who would literally take away your sins and the sins of the world. You would believe that after he successfully accomplished His mission, He died but came back to life, never to die again. He sits at the right hand of God the Father and some day is coming back to reign forever. You would believe that He is the definition of pure love.


If you believe that, it will effect the way you approach life. IF you believe it. And if you do, you are not the first and you are not alone. We are a part of a great company as we look back two thousand years to the confessions of the apostle Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God", the apostle John: "In the beginning was the Word", John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world", the Roman Centurion at the foot of the cross: "Truly this man was the Son of God", and so many more.


Where is your foundation? Are you on sure footing when the storms of life scream? Where is your hope? Is it secure?

What you believe either binds you or frees you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

NEW BLOGS

Hey all,

Many people have asked me why I haven't blogged since March. The truth is I have, not only in my 140 character mini blogs that show up often (maybe too often) on Twitter and Facebook, but I've also begun sending out a monthly newsletter and have been a guest blogger for CCM magazine.

So my life, thoughts, inspirations and glimpses of what I see have been well documented.

We plan to create a blog on aaronshust.com that will be a sort of Tour Blog. You will be able to read about adventures on the road, see photos from the shows and hopefully add your own photos to that page. This blogger account, to the best of my knowledge will be no longer updated.

From what I hear, this Google+ deal, is like just like Facebook, and people ask "why are you not on it yet?" Because I just figured out Facebook. sorta. Once they start Googwitter, I'll probably ignore that too. :) Too much technology takes me away from what is truly important. I'm trying to streamline as much as possible. It's a challenge.

So, I'd love to keep you posted! Feel free to follow along! :)
I appreciate you all!
a

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tanzania

It's been 50 days roughly since I returned from my trip to Tanzania with OneVerse to hand deliver the first words of Scripture to the Ndamba people they had ever read or even heard in their own language.

I haven't blogged about it yet because I think deep down the massiveness of the experience could never fully be explained in a blog short enough for people to want to actually read the entire thing. After a dramatic occurrence such as this trip, it usually takes time for the more 'important' memories to remain as the less influential ones fall to the brain's cutting room floor.

As my friend Mark says, "The long and short of it is," my guitar player Nate and I met in Atlanta and flew with Kyle the videographer and Jill the OneVerse rep to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa and drove via Range Rover (or Land Cruiser, I can never keep them straight) 500 kilometers through Morogoro to Ndamba country. In essence the middle of nowhere, where on Sunday Morning we attended their church service, being asked to sit on the platform the entire time, worshiped with them, were fed by them then worked our way back to the coast, soaking in a week's worth of all things Africa along the way.

The stand out moment for me was during the 3.5 hour long church service, which didn't seem that long. At one point in the beautifully unorganized service, the pastor approached me with a stack of orange paperback Gospel of Johns. He wanted me to hand them out! I only had about 40, there were more coming, but I handed out about 20 to the men's side and 20 more to the women "audience right" to a sea of outstretched hands, eager eyes and grateful smiles. Then I dazedly returned to my seat on the platform while the pastor spoke in Ndamba. I saw an older lady in a beautiful, dark yellow headdress motion toward one of the many children sitting on the floor in front of the women. I had just handed her my last Bible. A child stood and walked toward who I assume was his grandmother. She handed him her Gospel of John and I unsuccessfully choked back tears of joy as I witnessed GOD'S WORD having already been passed on to the next generation of Ndamba believers.

Lord God, infuse Your Truth into their hearts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The King's Speech

I was never on the debate team in High School. I see myself as easily swayed by people's arguments and must pray for wisdom and discernment to see the truth. I first prayed "give me words to speak, because I can't think of anything worth saying" because I truly had no eloquent words or stories or clever turn of phrase in mind to make people think, "Wow, that's true!"

So, I am incredibly comforted when I read I Corinthians 1:17. Paul says that Christ sent him "to preach the gospel, not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." This coming from the guy who wowed the Athenian philosophers, arguing that their "unknown god" was the very Lord of Heaven and Earth! (Acts 17:16-34). Christ did not send Paul to speak about the Good News with wisdom or eloquence, because the power of the cross could be emptied! The next verse says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."

Do not fear an inability to speak persuasively or eloquently. Do not fear an inability to be a clever wordsmith. But as Paul pleads, "Pray also with me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel. (Eph 6:19)

Finally, consider these quotes from this generation's most well known communicator of God's love:

"I am not a great preacher, and I don't claim to be a great preacher. I've heard great preaching many times and wished I was one of those great preachers. I'm an ordinary preacher, just communicating the Gospel in the best way I know how."

"I have found that when I present the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with authority, quoting from the very Word of God - He takes that message and drives in supernaturally into the human heart."

"People do not come to hear what I have to say - they want to know what God has to say."
-Billy Graham

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SAME TEAM! SAME TEAM!


I watched Bill Belichick give his press conference after the Patriot's loss to the Jets on Sunday night and felt a heavy sadness for him. Even though I was hoping the Jets would win so Pittsburgh would have home field advantage and Aliquippa's Darrelle Revis could have another homecoming (only to lose to the team he grew up cheering for), I still felt bad for Belichick. Not because the Pats lost, but because in the NFL, it seems the only thing that makes you or your team worth anything is winning a Championship: the Superbowl. Anything short of that, being a division leader, winning a division championship or a conference championship is practically considered failure compared to winning the Big Game. Teams that fall short dejectedly go home, confounded by thoughts that they should have won, they were robbed of their right to advance, that winning was their destiny but now they going to have to try-try-again next year, or so it seems at least.

I tried to imagine that Bill should have been happy that his Patriots had such a strong season and they got to play their favorite game and make money doing it. But he would probably get fired for that kind of thinking because franchise owners don't just want their players and coaches to have fun. They want to win it all! They need to employ coaches and players who want nothing less.

I'll speak for myself; there is a danger of adopting that attitude with the CCM business. "The Industry". And it is a danger. While I have a drive to succeed, to excel and be excellent with the talents that God has given me, I cannot place my value in whether or not I "win the championship." Maybe that means a Dove nomination, Dove Award, Grammy nod or Grammy Award. Are you kidding me? For a short amount of time, I get to provide for my family by writing, recording and performing songs that exalt the name of Jesus as the Lord of all! Don't for a second think that MercyMe are CCM's Dallas Cowboys that I have to defeat. Nor is Third Day our Atlanta Falcons. Brandon Heath is not Tennessee's Titan. I am not the Steelers. For better or for worse, we are ONE TEAM. Maybe some of us are the QB and some of us are the left guard, maybe we're sitting on the bench. But we all have a role and for some reason (and for a short season) God has seen fit to draft us on his "English Music on the Radio" team, so to speak. But He does not need us. We may get cut, we may go the way of Brett Farve and play for a very long time in the spotlight.

But we are on the same team!

...Except for Hunter Smith from Connersvine. He actually plays for the Redskins. I never thought this analogy could break down so badly.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Food. New Record. New Drummer. New Year.


































January is half way over already! I haven't had a show since November 16th? Two months ago! But I've led worship at my home church every week but once since then, when my Grandma was threatening to meet Jesus any minute, she's still waiting for the bus to pick her up so to speak. :) (What an incredible Hope we have! Death has no sting!) I've spent time with my family as Nicky has been home from the hospital since Dec 15th. He's been off the tube since 12/30, the night before we moved him out of the nursery and gave him his own bed in the room with his big brother! He loves sleeping in the same room as his "Bubby" Nicky actually started eating mashed bananas last week! It's amazing to see him sit behind a bowl with a spoon in his hand again! Glory to God! We're so thankful God's plan involved Nicky being with us for a while longer! What a joy!

I've been working with Ed Cash since Thanksgiving on the new record. Mainly over Skype (iChat really) working on the songs, how they should go, how high, how low, how fast, how slow, which chords are the best, which melody is the strongest, production ideas like strings here or strings there or no strings at all? Big drums, no drums. A girl from Texas named April, whom I'm dying to connect with, wrote a song called My Hope Is In You, which has blessed my family so much, I'm planning to record it and hopefully it will bring blessing to your lives as well, phenomenal song, April. I'm usually quite 'protective' of my ability to write or co-write all the songs on my albums, to make sure I can get behind them 100% (believe what I'm singing): no problems on this song. I resonate. I'm actually hoping I can shoot a video for it when I go to Africa next week! We'll see.

Anyhow, I'm excited. I'm getting ready for a show this Saturday at Billy Graham's Cove in North Carolina with my band, including my new drummer Brandon Coker. I've played with him before and he's a beast on the kit. He's also a great fella. You'll love him if you don't already know him.

I'll leave you with this: I was reading in Acts 10 this morning. I love the story of Cornelius, the captain of the Italian guard, but I especially love his bio found in verse 2. "He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer." If that were said of me in 2011, even if I were not a success by the world's standards, I would be okay with that. ;)

And according to his picture here, he was apparently devilishly handsome too.

May our priorities be well focused this year.
Long live the King,
aaron