Christmas Craziness!
(pictured above are my marsh- mallow snowmen toasted in an open fire)
It's the day after Christmas and we have made it back to Michigan finally to visit family. The only down side is there is no snow. Its cold but no snow. Christmas eve after a 13 hour day at church I came home and tried to wind down. This included lighting all the candles in the house and turning on some of my favovorite Christmas shows to watch while packing for our trip. Yes that is plural. Christmas vacation in the living room and the "Christmas Story" in my bedroom. Both shows that I hadnt gotten to see yet this season. Now I could enjoy the rest of the evening I had left while packing and getting the house ready for us to be gone two weeks.

The full day we spent travelling here seemed like 3 days rolled into one. (As if 5 services at church on Christmas eve wasnt enough already!) If you were to see us hanging in the airport (in either Phoenix or Chicago) you would notice we taking advantage of the time with our gifts and gadgets.
*Ethan was taking pictures on his new digital camera and transferring it to the laptop
*Corey was playing music on his new MP3 player,
* I was surfing the internet for music for my Ipod
* and Kathy was texting friends and drinking my Starbucks Coffee.
We are so high tech. Or pretend to be anyway.

Now we are at my parents house where my mom has been blessed with the gifts of every musical toy you could imagine:
*A 3 foot nutcracker bear is in the corner singing "The Little Drummer Boy"
*A little magical piano is playing while magnetic snowmen dance on the top,
*A mechanical Santa claus is banging on his minarature piano ("Santa Claus is coming to town") *And a family of mice sits on top of the TV singing " All I want for Christmas if my two front teeth".
(someone stop the madness!)
And yes they are all playing at the same time. My niece and Ethan make sure every few minutes to keep them going whenever the song is over.

And the technology savy Christmas continues as :
*Mom and I compare our new Ipods and ipod accesories and of all shapes and sizes,
*Corey and Tyler play Lego Star Wars games on Uncle Todd's laptop and
*Ethan designs cars from the Cars Movie on my laptop.
*and my niece Alisa is now joining the fun on grandmas computer playin her new game.

It's official. The days of the tinker toys are over. The noise is getting louder.

As for me even though every minute of my life has been filled with noise and business since a couple days before Christmas all I can say is that it is definitely good to be on vacation and enjoying the holidays with the family. Even if I can't hear a thing. In the meantime I will be praying for more Peace on Earth. Or at least for peace within the hearing distance where I am sitting right now.


All About Ipods, Leeland and other cool new tunes

So I just a month or two ago joined the world of Ipods and got my own 30gig pod with all the cool features. About 5 years ago I had purchased a Creative Zen MP3 Media player that had song capabilities but nothing like what the Ipod can do. After selling the old player on ebay I went to Best Buy and got it and have been in love with it ever since. I know, I know Ipods are old news. They've been out for a while but I guess I'm still catching up with the times. I have hundreds of songs on there, some tv shows (including lost) pictures and tons of podcasts from some of my favorite worship services and speakers. Its pretty amazing. So while Im talking about all my new Ipod let me throw in my 10 second commercial of some new music you should really check out that I recently purchased and have been listening to.....

Leeland: Sound of Melodies
This CD is awesome. This is a brand new group with a whole new sound including worship and heartfelt lyrics about life from an amazingly creative and gifted 18 year old named Leeland Mooring. The title song "Sound of Melodies" and "Yes You Have" have already been radio hits and are some of my favorites that I listen to all the time.

Jeremy Camp: Beyond Measure
What more can you say. The name says it all. This is just another project filled with great music from Camp that anyone can enjoy. (check out the song "Let it Fade")
Ok Im done with my commercial now but you have to check out these two new CDS.


Live From the Set of "Jolene"
It's my "supposed" day off work for the week and so I ventured downtown here to check out a new movie being filmed on the main stretch off the square downtown Prescott, AZ. (click here for news story) They have the street blocked off and are filming straight across from me at a Pub and the gift shop next door. So here I am hanging on the square with tons of other curious Prescottonians and tourists looking to see what big celeb might pop out on the set. Rumor has it Donald Sutherland is in the movie but he's nowhere to be seen. OK he's not here. I've been told as I just talked to one of the directors of the extras here out on the street. No I didnt harass him he came up to me. I guess he thought I was an extra as I was just out here chillin at the square in the exact right spot sipping my my java. " Were you asked to be in this spot for this particular scene sir?" he asked me in all seriousness (His name was David) To which I responded. " No I wasnt asked. Would you like me too?" Sidenote: This turned out not to be a good approach to apply for the part of an extra in a movie but at least I tried. I then kindly moved over (about 20 feet) with all the other " unwanted extras" he had rounded up and had moved out of the scene. In the meantime a couple of actors are now out on the street. They are filming the same scene over and over. I feel like I'm having De Javue. They run out of the store, hop in the convertible, pull out, drive down the street. rewind. they run out of the store, hop in the convertible, pull out, drive down the street. rewind. Anyway Im now curious to who this guy is. He looks very familiar. The website lists quite a lineup for a cast. Donald Sutherland, Denise Richards, Jessica Chastain (the main actor) Theresa Russell (in Spiderman 3) Dermott Mulroney and some guy from Alias. Oh yes, Michael Vartan. You can click those names to check out the site. This guy however looks very familiar. Familiar as in I've seen him in a movie before and I'm not sure which one.

Then it finally registers. Dermot Mulroney. Thats the guy from "My Best Friends Wedding" and "About Schmidt". By the time I figured it out the 15 second scene is over and, they have wrapped up the shoot and are moving equipment to another part of town. I spent over an hour watching the filming which will turn out to be about 20 seconds maybe of the movie. I have no idea what it is about or when it's out but its called "Jolene" and they are filming in several different states. Other than the worlds oldest rodeo this is probably the biggest thing to happen up here in Prescott in a long time. They are here filming for the next week so If I'm lucky maybe I'll just try magically appear in another scene.


So last Saturday night I suprised Kathy and took her to an acoustic Michael W Smith concert at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Although I have seen him dozens of times I hadnt actully been to one of his concerts in years so it was cool to check it out. It was actually a very different kind of concert setting (including a rotating stage in a theatre in the round) and a great evening of worship with Smitty getting back to his roots on the piano. I have been a fan since my early teen years and even though my preferred musical style has changed since those days I was still very impressed by the creativity in the music and songstyles that is on the new album Stand. The Cd is actually not even out yet but will be in November. For us it was quite a flashback of our Nasvhille, Tennessee days where we saw him regularly in concert, at events, at church and many other place. More than the music though I am always impressed with his involvement in "ministry" outside the box including his movie, his involvement with the support of the president, his leadership in settings like 9-11, the Columbine shootings and the worship led by him in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the Amish memorial service. This guy has definitely gone above and beyond even his main calling in life to reach people. That to me stands out even more than the music itself. (check out the new CD. The song Cover Me is awesome)


The Hike at Granite Mountain

Saturday we spent the day hiking around Granite mountain. It's only a few miles from our house but we had never had the chance to get over there. Here we are hiking around and enjoying the scenery on a 4 1/2 mile trail all to ourselves. Lions and tigers and bears.... coyotes.. oh my!


Monsoon Season
So its what they call monsoon season here in northern Arizona which pretty much means there are never ending rainstorms that pass over for a couple months straight. Not normal for what you would consider Arizona weather but it happens every year. Its pretty amazing to see as on one side of the sky there is nothing but blue and sun and then the other is nothing but dark clouds that look like the end of the world. This area seems to be the only place where you can see a huge dark storm, lightening, a rainbow and a sunny day all at the same time. You just gotta see it to believe it. Very crazy yet pretty amazing. Tomorrows forecast... more rain (or sun depending on what part of town you live in).


Vacation Pictures
On our vacation this year we covered 6 states and over a dozen cities starting at the conference I went to in California and visiting family and friends in the midwest. Travelling by plane, car, van, bus but not train or bikes (as of yet) we have been all over and still continue on our 18 day vacation. Here are just a handful of pictures from our California visit and from visiting family in Michigan. (more will be added as the week goes on and we head back home to AZ.)

California shots Click Here
Michigan shots Click Here


Worship Arts Conference- Saddleback Church
Hello everyone!. Im writing to you live from the 2006 Worship Arts Conference here at Saddleback in Lake Forest, CA. Its been a great first day and another another awesome year at the conference is just beginning. I spent the day at the conference and the family spent the day playing in the ocean at Laguna beach. We caught the sunset there tonight and took a stroll down the main stretch after dinner. What a beautiful place! Today as always Rick Warrens kicks off the week with a key message on the topic. Balance. His message although simple had a few great points that I wanted to write on here as I will be logging each days events on this blog. Check back each day for more info on the Coneference and the worship!

Heres the break down from our main message of the day by Rick. We spend too much time worrying and not enough worshipping. Worry is when we depend on ourself. Worship is when we give it to God.
The key steps were:
Ask God For Help / Believe He can handle the Situation / Confess your Inadequacy / Depend on God to Help & save you / Express thanks in advance / Find the blessing in the bad
The scripture used was II Chronicles 20:1-27 where Jehoshaphat was to go to battle against several different armies who had joined together. He asked the Lord for help and turned over his crisis totally to God. He confessed he could not handle the situation and thanked him in advance having faith God was going to deal with the problem. Its pretty rare that I find a message that really hits home and this home hit right on theh spot. Worship could come before everything we try to do to make something better. It is the antedote for worry. "Go to the Lord for help and worship him continually." Psalm 105:4
The worship today was mainly by Rick Muchow and the Worship Team here and as always they did a marvelous job. Best of all was to see Rick Muchows son following in his dads footsteps and leading worship this afternoon. The worship team at Saddleback always does an amazing job and presents a great model for worship leading. Another great day is just around the corner!

Day 2
Wow ok its not really day two but time flew by and before you knew it the week was over. Our second day was Marcos Witt, a Grammy award winner and worship leader from Lakeland in Texas. I have read this guys book before but what an amazing speaker! Todays focus was on developing the worship leaders balance between ministry and life as we know it. Scripture from Rev 4:7 with a great comparison with the worship leaders in heaven found in Revelation and how we can use some of their characteristics in our worship ministries. Worship was by Babbie Mason and in the afternoon again I spent the day with the family soaking up the sun at Laguna Beach. (You gotta see this place!!)

Day 3
Tim Hughes led worship in the morning genral session and John Ortberg spoke. This was one of my favorite session of the week as he encouraged everyone to define their mision in life as well as discover their " Shadow Mission". (being our ulterior motive behind our ministry or why we do what we do. The family spend the day at the beach and then over to the Dana Point Sealife center. We wrapped up the night with a Mercy Me Concert. Corey and Ethan got to meet the band afterwords and visit Saddleback Church for the first time.

Day 4
Chris Tomlin lead worship and Louie Giglio spoke. Friday we headed out to the midwest and flew on Continental through Houston. To say the least it was a miserable trip.
The conference this year had great sessions however it was pretty low key in the evening with the concerts compared to years before. I got alot out of the morning general sesions and a couple worship settings but what I enjoyed most other than those things was relaxing in the afternoon at the beach. (I guess that could be I havent had a break in over a year now and needed it bad. ) You can find out more about the Saddleback conference or hear sessions by clicking
HERE Of course there was alot more that happened this week but theres too much to write about. Sometime soon Ill have some pics from our visit in southern CAL online.


New Video Blogs and Myspace
Just when I thought I was blogging enough already I had to go and add three more blogs and sites to my list of things to do. Check them out.
The first one has alot of cool videos of Corey and Ethan and all they have going on. The second one is full of worship leading I've done here. The last one is my myspace. Check it out and let me know what you think!!!


Shawn McDonald-Ripen CD
I love the new CD Ripen by Shawn McDonald. I have never bought any of his music before but this one is really awesome. With a mixture of folk and pop and alot of creativity the whole thing is great music for inspiration and easy listening. Although I have plenty of favorites like "Reason" (played on the radio often) and "Perfectly Done" my altime favorite right now is "Free". Great lyrics, great tune and it will stick in your head all day. Let alone it has a message anyone can relate to.. Check it out.....

I feel like the weight of the world is, Crashing down on me & some how I just don’t believe, This how it is suppose to be All this expectation on, the way I’m suppose to live Becomes my minds distraction, with nothing left to give You said your burden is light & Your load is no more You said your ways are right & in you I will soar
I want to be free, Free to dance & free to sing
Free to live & learn & free oh, free to be me
I feel like my Heart is being Beat, down into the ground, In you I’m longing for some peace, to be found I know the heaviness that’s, making me cold Is stealing my youthful soul & making me old You said your burden is light & Your load is no more You said your ways are right & in you I will soar I want to be free, Free to dance & free to sing
Free to live & learn & free oh, free to be me


The Arizona Snowball Adventure
Yes there is snow in Arizona. It's hard to believe and I'm still very suprised. At least there is in the high elevation areas. Saturday I got to go skiing at the Sanfransisco Peaks in Flagstaff (pictured on the left) about 90 minutes north of here. The tallest part of the mountain (known as the Arizona Snowball Ski Area) is over 12,000
feet tall which explains why there its presently snow up there even though its 70 and beautiful here in Prescott. The ski slopes peak at about 10,300 feet and are pretty amazing. Amazing is the word that comes to mind when you are on the lift on the way up for 10 minutes. When skiing down other things come to mind such as: "What was I thinking? Does this hill have a bottom? Do I have life insurance? and... how do I stop?" The top of the mountain had a spectacular view and it was a fairly clear day so altogether it was quite an awesome experience. Just another amazing opportunity in the state of Arizona and a chance to check out God's great creation.


You Are The One
I just recently ran across the new CD by Lincoln Brewster and have already played it about 100 times through. There are some great songs on there like "Love the Lord Your God" and "Amazed" but my all time favorite right now is "You Are The One". We often get wrapped up in our own lives and schedules and think what's in it for me and look to serve ourselves. Once we break from that mold and focus on others and especially the awesomeness of God it helps put everything back into perspective and bring some relief to the stressful lifestyle. Thats what everyone needs. Focusing on God rather than ourselves. Its not about me and all about YOU. YOU are the one. Check out these lyrics.....

Verse:You're the One Who made the heavensYou're the One Who shaped the earthYou're the One Who formed my heart long before my birth.I believe You'll always lead me . All my days have been ordained,All Your thoughts toward me are holy,full of love and graceChorus:You are the One, You are holy,You are the One, You are worthyYou are the One, You are the One, everlasting(1st ending)Lord, You are the One,Jesus, You're the One(2nd ending)You are the One I will worship,You are the One I will serve all my daysYou are the One, You are the One, everlastingLord, You are the One,Jesus, You're the One......

quite humbling......


Mini Sammy Hagar?

No its just Ethan in a crazy wig but he did get to sing his first song on stage last week at the Kinder Kritters Patriotic program(his kindergarten class) . The music was hard to hear but he did his best and got to sing everyones favorite classic patriotic song, "God Bless the USA".

Click here to check it out . (Top video on the right side)


ITs Snowing!!!! (click here for pictures)
Well it's more than snowing. It's been snowing more than two days and we presently have about 6 inches with about 6 more on the way tonite. It wouldn't be such a big deal if we were in Michigan but the picture above is taken in our backyard this afternoon at our home here in Arizona!! Over 12 inches has falled in the Northern Arizona area this weekend. I would have never believed it but its for real. When you think of Arizona you dont think snow. Most people think its all about desert and cacti (the plural form of cactus). What alot of people dont know is that all Northern Arizona has an elevation of 5,000 feet and up to 8,000 on some mountains. Which is the reason for the precipitation. Pictured above is Corey, (squinting to see through the snowfall and missing a tooth) and Ethan out enjoying the weather. Dont believe it!?? Click Here to see all about it on the weather page and check out the video at the problem! 3-11-06


ITunes and other musical tidbits
Yes its true if you havent heard my music will soon be available on ITunes. Im pretty excited about that as its another way to get the music out. Now I just have to fill out some online info and jump through the hoops to get it up and going. Itunes over the past few months has added TV shows to their downloadable items to purchase so I have been on there alot. Being the big "Lost" fan I am I find myself often downloading episodes since I am not home in time to watch it on Wednesday nights. Another great feature is the ability to download full albums. Sure you can just run to the store and get it but for a few bucks cheaper you can get it on your computer for ususally less than store costs. If you have seen Curious George the movie( yes I admit I wathced it... twice) you probably heard the incredible Music of Jack Johnson a Hawaii native turned folk music star. If your looking for fun, awesome music check out Jack.( Great stuff and cool website). On the other hand, my kids just got hooked on the new Disney TV movie, called High School Musical. Beware. If you havent seen it you are lucky. Ok well for a musical about high school its not all that bad. Really tough even though it comes across as extremely cheesy (a straight up 10 for me on the Velveeta meeter) It has some pretty creative music that I also downloaded on Itunes. If your into musical type songs. (Im not recommending this for anyone else just thought Id share ) Now I have to listen to it in the car and everywhere else my kids can find a cd player. So by now your saying so what Kevin ITunes is old news. Yes it is but daily they come up with new features and its a great tool to find cool new music. Surf around and see what you can find. Hopefully you will soon find my music on there too. Im no Jack Johnson but theres nothing like another great opportunity to share your music with the world.


Its 20 degrees!!
I logged on to my computer this morning and my weather channel info popped up reading 20 degrees! Thats nothing though becaue Ive seen it down to 13 or so on the local bank sign early in the morning. Who knows how low it gets at night. So whats the big deal about it being 20 degrees? Well for one thing we are in Arizona. For anyone reading this who is not familiar with Arizona weather and think AZ is a vast land of sand and hot sun check out www.weather.com and type in Phoenix or Prescott in the box. You will be suprised at the difference. Luckily it warms up during the day and doesnt stay that cold for the whole 24 hour period. Coming from MI or anywhere in the Midwest you would never imagine it would get that cold. I never knoew there were mountains in AZ either but now I live on one (5,300 feet above sea level, which explains the drastic change in temperature. Arizona cold? Check it out for yourself. In the meantime Im bundling up the kids and headed for the bus stop!.


No Church on Christmas?
This was the title MSNBC ran on their article about this "Whether or not to have Church on Christmas day controversy" of December 2005. It was a very unique situation for not only the church where I serve but churches across the country this year as Christmas and New Years both landed on a Sunday. If you do the math the last time that actually hapened was in 1994. (thanks to leap year) So this doesnt happen that often. The big debate for many churches was whether or not to have services on Christmas day due to the lack of attendance or just focus on Christmas Eve. (Click here to read the MSNBC story) Being a Worship Leader/program direcor myself we spent weeks in staff meeting discussing what to do. ( and asking other churches) Now that its all said and done Im glad we stuck with Christmas services on Christmas Eve and day. It might sound crazy since we had to hold 7 services all together on both days and I am still trying to recover but it was a good choice. After all and no matter what, what is Christmas time for anyway?? Several churches said they cancelled since they were expecting low attendance and not expecting the "unchurched" to show (the unchurched being the primary focus of who they are trying to reach.) As for our church I know its safe to say over 70% of our attenders on Christmas Eve AND on Christmas day were those we ARE focusing on and those are the "Unchurched". I hope opportunities like this weren't missed by the many churches across the country who decided to close for different reasons. Whether overall it was the decision to cancel to allow families to stay home and spend time together, or because churches were "bowing to secular culture" as many media opponents criticized, or a lack of staffing due to being a mega church or just for the convenience of it all I don't know. My hope though is that churches of all sizes when it comes to programming and cooperate worship in today's socieity will prayerfully steer away from what seems like a "logical" decision to us and never replace our meeting times together for whatever reason with what could be a divine opportunity for God to do His thing!
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.- Hebrews 10:25