Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Rude Awakening

The scene is set. It's 2:20 am on Tuesday. An unsuspecting, sound asleep Abby is woken up by a slap to the left arm. Who? What? Huh? The slap came from none other than Abby herself. Why? She knew there was something crawling on her. This wasn't a ghost creepy crawly. You know, the feeling that something is on you, but it's really not. This was the real deal. In fact, it was big enough to bring Abby out of her sleep.

Can I stop talking in 3rd person now? Thanks. So I wake up to my right arm slapping my left arm. I felt the bug. I hit it (note the good aim even during REM sleep mode), but it didn't die. I wanted to die, but my bug friend crawled down my arm. I sprang out of bed and because my light switch is across the room and I didn't want to let the little bugger get far away, I grabbed my cell phone and relied on the light of the screen to track him down. It felt like an investigative scene from CSI.

I assumed I was looking for a spider. Why? I don't know. I think it's because I could feel him crawling, so I figured there must have been a lot of legs involved. I looked under the bed, behind the bed, under the covers, on top of the covers, inside and on top of my pillow. Nothing. I find it necessary to mention that my husband, my protector was sound asleep this whole time AND my two cats, my hunters, were nowhere to be found. After a few minutes of searching, I was ready to give up the hunt and lie in fear for the rest of the night. What a horrible feeling. Getting back into bed knowing there is a creepy-crawly nearby, just waiting to crawl back under the covers with me. Why did I buy a bed so comfy and inviting?!?!

Just as I shut my phone, turning off the make-shift light, I felt something on my foot. I looked down and saw him. It was a beetle-like cockroachy thing. About an inch long. Ugh. Ew. Eeek... insert your own sound.

Instead of grabbing a book from the shelf behind me, I went into full survival mode and got down and started slapping the bug with my hand. The plushness of the carpet combined with the give of my palm made his death long and drawn-out. My husband finally woke up and I cried to him, "There was a bug on me!" and then I just said, "Finish the job." So he got up, grabbed some tissue and ushered the bug to its final resting place. As we got back into bed I just said to him, "This is why you need to sleep with your mouth shut."

- Abby

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Scenic Route

Where Are We Going?

Its funny how often I think I know everything about everything. I hate to admit it, but at times I am that guy. "Mr. Yeah I Already Heard That One and I Know an Even Better Story Guy" I don't mean to be that guy, my life really is just that random. Abby once asked my wife about a story I told her just to make sure it was true because it was so crazy and because I've got so many. Of course it was a true story as my wife did attest, but I still get that funny look from Abby when I tell her the latest crazy thing that happened in my life. Oh well...

I've been on this whole "surrender" thing lately, in my prayer time, in my reading, in my research, just really delving into the depths of what God is putting on my heart. As I was cruising the net looking for show prep I had my iTunes player on random (the best way to listen to music by the way) and a song popped on and my full attention skipped from the Internet to my iTunes. I couldn't turn away from that song when I heard the words, "Why do we take the scenic route? Spend our days taking forever to get to you."

My mind spun on its axis for a moment and it's like God took me back to High School. I was just sitting there remembering how I would drive, nowhere really, just drive around Tampa. Talking to God. Asking Him to rid me of whatever it was I was dealing with at the time, yet always falling back to it because I didn't really want to let it go. I spent as much time crying wolf to God as I did in the sin I wanted away from. As I sat there in my memories I remember a verse that my dad gave me. But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)

OUCH! Thanks Dad! No, really. Thank you.

What that verse means is, once you have become a child of the living God and you have been redeemed from the grip of sin, YOU ARE FREE! Free from whatever burdens life had attached to your boot heels. Free from the sins that clung to your backs, weighing you down. FREE! At that time in my life, as bad as I wanted away from my past, I kept looking back there just enough to dabble in that sin again and again. My life wasn't stuck in a rut, I was just on the wrong route. I got shifted over to the scenic route with God. Slowly meandering down the twisty trails taking my own sweet time to figure things out. To figure out that God has a higher purpose for me and my life if I would just surrender the wheel and slide over to the passenger seat.

Philippians 3:12 "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

That verse rocked me to the core. Why had I waited so long? So long to let go of the wheel, slide over and let God drive. I don't really remember exactly when or what day but it's like God slowly changed my road map. I was moved from the slow meandering scenic route to the fast lane. Speeding towards my goals, chasing after the prize, the upward calling that God has on my life.

Do we still make detours, yes. We are not perfect. Do our cars break down from time to time, yes. We need a saviour. Thankfully God has a towing service for when things really go wrong. Let go. Let go of the need to drive your way, your route, your directions and go with God. Let Him take the wheel and drive. I promise, you'll enjoy the ride. I have.

Be Blessed.


Friday, August 21, 2009

So I Like Girl Music

Britt Nicole
Apparently, I am not allowed to like the new Britt Nicole CD "The Lost Get Found". Or at least that is what the fellas are telling me. Earlier this week I was loading some new tunes on my iTouch when my friend called me. For the sake of this blog and my life after it I have changed their names to protect...well myself.
Brother X calls me to say whats up, chit-chat a bit about life and see how I was doing. I tell him life is good and that I was just hanging at the casa loading some new music on the iTouch. Brother X being as big a music buff as I am says, "What are you loading in right now?" Not thinking I say, "Well the new album from Britt Nicole, its hot!"
The sound of silence can be deafening. "What?" He says after a few seconds of digesting the news that I not only have the new Britt Nicole album on my iTouch, BUT that I actually like it, a lot.
Life has a funny way about itself with me. He couldn't have called 3 minutes earlier when I was loading in the new album from RED or 5 minutes later when I loaded in the last album from P.O.D. He called at the exact moment that I was loading in a more "feminine friendly" CD. Let me say this about the new album from Britt Nicole. YES, I LIKE IT!
Yes, its kind of a girl record. Yes, its Pop music. BUT, it is full of His truth and a message that we ALL need to hear. She breaks down some very intimate life issues we all face in a relevant and positive manner. Her final track "Have Your Way" really moved me to the core. I played that song over and over and over when I first heard it.
Sometimes in life I can feel so alone and so broken like I am never ever good enough, I search and cry out to God like He can't hear me and at times I think He doesn't. But He does, He is always there. In the dark where we hide, He sits and waits, in the cold where we try to wonder off on our own, He walks right behind us. From the wilderness to the desert we run astray and yet He is always there right behind us, waiting for us to turn around and run home. That song just shook me to the core. I found myself praying again a very basic prayer I have always prayed.
"Lord, Have YOUR way in me. I give in, I SURRENDER to your will. I trust you God with where I am right now, where you have placed me and what you are doing. I will NOT let life dictate who I am. I will NOT let circumstance tell me what is. I give my life fully to you and know that you will HAVE YOUR WAY IN ME. Lord, take me, all of me. I am yours."
So yeah, it may be a girly CD, but I don't care, if you look for God in everything you do. He'll show up. Even in a song.
Be Blessed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Give Up


Okay, so a few days back I posted a blog on my horrible "Wrong Turn" and in it I said, "Being a guy I fall back things that leaders of men have said, one that pops into mind is from Winston Churchill, "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty" and now, I'm going to write a blog on surrender. Go figure...

If you look up the word SURRENDER in the dictionary you get this definition:

Surrender, verb (used with object) 1. to give (oneself) up. 2. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship. 3. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.). 4. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

But if you look closely there is another definition to the word surrender, to yield to the power of another.

I felt like God has been hitting me with that word for a few days now. During my prayer time its been "Surrender, Surrender, Surrender" over and over again. I began asking God what? to whom? why? where? I didn't understand it, until I dug deeper...

Matthew 16:24-26

Jesus calls upon His followers to reject the natural human inclination toward self. The first step is to submit and surrender to God our will, our affections, our bodies, and our lives. Our own pleasures and happiness can no longer be primary goals. Instead, we must be willing to renounce all and lay down our lives, if required. Peter admonishes us to "no longer live . . . in the flesh for the lusts of men," meaning we should no longer pursue wrong desires. Are we willing to forsake all, to give up everything including our lives? Our Christian duty is to deny our lust of the flesh.

Me personally, I worry a lot about what people think about me and my morning show. I worry about my next career move or my next step in life. I over analyze, over think and generally over step God in my life. When things come my way I want to "be the man" and fix it or deal with it. My way. Instead of just tapping into the awesome power and might that we have access to as children of God.

Surrender: (v) to yield to the power of another. To yield to the power of God in our lives.

Why do we fight tooth and nail alone when we have an army behind us? Surrender is never an easy thing. Especially for me. I want to "be the man," I want to handle it and God is showing me the truth in the verse that says, His ways are higher than mine, His thoughts higher are than mine. It's like the song from Francesca Battistelli that says:

I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
I’m losing control
Of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go

Let's stop trying to run every aspect of our lives and learn to surrender, surrender to the awesome power of God, who knows what is best for each and everyone of us.

Be Blessed.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

New World


So I am blogging right now on the front porch of a little farm house located on over 200 acres of corn and soy bean fields. As I look out from my chair all I see are fields upon fields of corn and beans. THATS IT! The nearest house is about 2 miles away and down a dirt road. This is my weekend adventure on The Farm Life and so far, its been amazing.

First, everything is so much slower here. The people actually drive the speed limit and use their turn signals. Time seems to run at its actual pace. I never have once said to myself, "where has the day gone", its been more of, "What? It's only 3 o'clock?" This for me has been the definition of relaxation. Time just spent in the hammock, sipping sweet tea and watching the wind dance on the corn fields.

The food is amazing here. Fresh tomatoes and corn every meal, everything made from scratch, no quick mix powder concoctions full of salt and sodium. Just fresh from the farm, slow cooked goodness. Its amazing.

I don't think I could live here. I need the hustle and bustle of the big city, but for just a weekend to get away and truly RELAX. This is as close to heaven on earth as you could get. Either way, this is just a quick blog from the front porch. Why ruin this lack on connectivity by connecting to my Internet life again. Let me spend the rest of my weekend in the joy of nothingness. No phone, No Internet, No facebook, No anything. Just life, family, God and time. The time to do whatever I want or nothing at all.

I think we all need this from time to time. Just to get away and let time run. Get unhooked from our digital selves and reconnect to our real life families and friends. Next for me, another glass of sweet tea and a slice of home made angel food cake. And why not Angel food cake, as far as I'm concerned this is heaven.

Be Blessed.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wrong Turn

My Run
This all took place about a week ago and I have been meaning to write this blog since then. I guess the "trauma" of it all made me block out the writing of this blog until now.
So last week, Thursday I think it was, I decided to go for a quick run. I didn't plan on going to far since it was like 96 degrees outside and 100% humidity and I never run outside. I will run on a treadmill in 72 degrees of joyous air conditioning where the only humidity comes from the sweat on my shirt. One thing I learned very quickly in life is that gym running and outside running are two very different things. Either way, I embark on my run feeling great. Muscles rocking, feet pounding, music blasting, I was feeling pretty good as I passed my mental mile marker. Then it hit me...it's really hot!
I was starting to sweat now and I could see that I was coming up to a crucial decision on just how far I wanted to run. There are two street in my neighborhood that can double back towards my house. One, THE SECOND STREET leads me back up very near my home, maybe a two and a half mile total run. The other, THE FIRST STREET runs farther south adding another two plus miles for a round trip total of near five miles. Both those totals are easy to knock out on a treadmill in a perfect 72 degree setting, but that day, in that heat and with that humidity, my body was saying, "No way." So I made the decision to take the short way home, or so I thought, the problem came when I took the wrong street. I forgot that the first street, took me farther south, not closer to my home. I took the first street.
I didn't realize my mental mistake until I reached US19 and noticed just how far south I was. By that time, my ankle was starting to hurt a bit and the heat was really kicking in. I could feel the sun on my skin and cool of my sweat as it dripped past and I was a little worried if I going to be able to make it back home. Just then as I was weighing my options I felt this little voice inside say, "Go, you'll be fine." Now, to be honest I'm not sure if that was God saying I got you or my Puerto Rican machismo kicking my butt to just man up and finish this, but I pressed on and kept going.
All the way, I kept checking back to see if my wife would drive past. My run took me down her route home so I knew she may be coming by at any moment to save me from my mental lapse. No luck. But as I kept going I kept hearing, "Go" without much choice, I just kept on going. My ankle was really hurting now, my shirt was soaked, my skin was hot, my body was tired and just as I turn down the second to last street from my house, maybe 2/3 of a mile away from my house what do I see...HOPE.
My wife in her car was driving up behind me about to pass by, I give her what I thought to be the international symbol for pull over and help me. Two arms waving over my head. Mind you, I came to a complete stop and started waving. She in turn, waves her hand back and me, smiles and drives past! "YOU"VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME", I said to aloud. She drove right past me and never stopped. Even turned down my street and out of my sight. "Go" I heard it again. So I went.
Finally, I made it to my street and there parked on the side of the road is my wife, she tells me that she wasn't sure if I wanted her to stop so she waited to see if I was ok. I gave her a quick lesson on the international sign for HELP and she laughed at me. I laughed to, because I had made it and I was ok. It was hard, it wasn't very fun, but it was fulfilling to know that I had done it.
Looking back, whether or not you think that really was God letting me know that I would be ok or just my PR Machismo kicking in (I give this one to God). I can see how at times in our life we need to rely on that still small voice deep inside our hearts. Life is hard and isn't always fun so we need to rely on God and keep pressing on. When you fall, get back up, when you stop, get moving again. Being a guy I fall back things that leaders of men have said, one that pops into mind is from Winston Churchill, "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty". To many times we let the enemy win. First in small little things, we give in some ground, then in more and more and more. Today, don't stop fighting, don't give in, get up, get moving and get with God. He is the rock and you can always rely on Him.
Be Blessed

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Great Brows!

I love eyebrows. They can do so much in the way of expression and oh, how I love to pluck! Here's a cute video to brighten your day. I suspect that there is computer assistance involved, but even so, it's pretty clever. I love the little boy's chin/lower lip and how it puckers when the girl starts playing with the baloon. Too funny!

- Abby

Monday, August 3, 2009

Batman and Jesus

Here is a great blog from the guys of Addison Road...

When I was in elementary school one of my favorite things in the world was getting to go to summer camp. I loved being out in the woods, going swimming in the lake, and inevitably falling in love with a girl by the end of the week.

I remember one incident at camp particularly well. My best friend Bryan came to camp with me – it was the year the movie Batman came out and we were both obsessed with it. I got a package in the mail from my Mom (always the highlight of camp), which included sunscreen, cookies, and a couple of Batman toy figures inside. I was really confused when I saw my Mom had sent me two of the same Batman figures. Why wouldn’t she have gotten me Batman and the Joker? Batman and anyone else would have worked, how did she miss the fact that she sent me two of the same toys? At that point I remember thinking, “Surely this extra Batman isn’t for Bryan? It was an accident and I’ll exchange it for something else when I get home.” So for the whole week I enjoyed having my Batman figures on the windowsill by my bed, one that was opened and one that stayed untouched in the package.

When Mom came to pick me up from camp at the end of the week the first thing I asked her was why she had sent me two of the same Batman figures. And then the answer I already knew inside came, “I sent one for you and one for Bryan. Didn’t you share it with him?” Gulp. No Mom, actually I kept it to myself and only let him hold the package for a minute before grabbing it out of his grubby little hands.


Sometimes it’s so easy for me to live life this way. I hold on so tight to things I think are mine that I miss the point completely. For a long time I didn’t understand it. I knew God wanted me to give money back to Him but I had my hands clenched so tight around it that I couldn’t let it go. How selfish. Now every month when I send in our tithe I feel like I’m loosening my grip on what I say is mine. Isn’t it all God’s anyway? Who am I to say something is mine? James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” So doesn’t that mean every good thing in my life is a gift from God? My wife, my stuff, even my life, it’s all God’s anyway. It’s strange but there’s a freedom that comes when I let go of what I thought was mine all along.

We spent this whole last week in Nashville writing the final songs for our new album. It was an amazing week and we really wrote some incredible songs. Our last thing to do in town was for the band to sit down with our record label and talk about which songs would and wouldn’t make the final cut of the album. This sounded harmless enough, until some songs I had written started getting knocked off the list. All I kept thinking was, “I worked so hard on that one!” Or, “Oh not that one, don’t you see how good that one could be?” After the meeting I started feeling really selfish. My songs. Aren’t those songs God’s whether they ever end up on an album or not?A friend told me once that we’re supposed to live life with an open hand. It’s when we start gripping things too tightly that we miss the point and miss out on what God really has for us. I think that’s true. So I’m trying to loosen the grip on my Batman figures one finger at a time.

-Ryan Gregg

Fore more on Addison Road check out: http://www.addisonroad.com/

Be Blessed.