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Stranger Things at a Stop Light


One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen occurred on my commute to work yesterday. Something I hadn’t seen before and the epitome of what many might call a Hallmark moment. But, for me it was something else. It didn’t come off as cheesy in the slightest.

It distracted my driving, but in a good way.

I was driving in the slow lane listening to Weezer, and the traffic was stop-and-go. And I was belting some lyrics from the white album, and I came to another red light and immediately looked in my mirrors to see if I’d been caught in any direction. Then I glanced left and the car next to me offered this aforementioned Hallmark moment.

It was a beat-up, rusted Buick with the front bumper held together by what looked like bungee cables.

Inside was a young couple who looked younger than my wife and I when we first got married (19 & 23). The young lady was in the passenger seat, and she was reading aloud from a book I couldn’t see too well – to her boyfriend, husband, fill-in-the-blank. (I’d like to say it was a Bible, but I couldn’t confirm the text.)

And what spoke volumes to me was their passion. She was reading and he was locked in with two hands on the wheel. (Imagine a young Johnny Cash with hair swiped to the side nodding and listening.) She would read, pause, and wait to see the man’s reaction. He, meanwhile, listened and encouraged.

The light turned and we all were set in motion again. As I turned Weezer down, in my rearview I saw the old Buick go left. I replayed the image in my mind, their passion-

It was 7am. The car wasn’t new. Their dress and style didn’t suggest wealth. And, they had what many call zest. I could see it all in that brief window of time stopped together.

[Imagine what an image of our grandparents joyriding around town might’ve looked like 50-60 years ago.]

This was something unexpected, and I got a better sense of what the word ‘contentment’ ought to mean.

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Meeting Kevin Costner: Renaissance Man


Well, standing 500 feet away from him, I should say.

But who cares? We were in the SAME auditorium for a concert. His concert.

Did you know Kevin Costner even played music?

I didn’t either, but Leah said we had 2 tickets (to paradise) & a Kevin Costner concert – compliments of her workplace.

So, I did what any red-blooded, Tin Cup/Bull Durham/Waterworld/Dances with Wolves/Field of Dreams/The Untouchables/Robin Hood-watching guy would do: turned to Spotify for help.

I found Costner and his band Modern West. Of course, I dug the moniker. Kevin Costner was a living, breathing Western to me. Always had been. His name (like Eastwood’s) is synonymous with awesome. He’s Joe Cool. Pre-Camel cigarettes cool.

We got gussied up. My wife, me, and two friends. Saturday came, and we went to see Costner perform.

It was a black tie event. Naturally I wore a blue one. Kevin Costner wore boots, I think.

While I didn’t recognize his music, (none of the songs were household tunes) they weren’t half bad. Costner requested the reverb be cut waaaay down and the spotlight to be cut completely off him. And, he sang like a bird and eventually closed the set down with Dylan’s Tambourine Man.

All in all it was a delightful time. Even though Costner never came over to our table and signed anything, I’d like to think he would’ve if asked. There were baseballs stationed on each table, and I wanted mine signed by Billy Chapel pretty bad. Similarly, none of us on the back row received a Costner wink, but we still felt included in Modern West’s concert.

If you have the time, check out Costner when he’s not on the big screen. He’s Joe Cool, people. Here are some upcoming dates:



Date City Venue Country
08/24/16 Kevin Costner & Modern West in Alexandria, VA The Birchmere United States
Time: 7:30pm. Address: 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue. Buy tickets
08/26/16 Kevin Costner & Modern West in Poplarville, MS Brownstone Center United States
Time: 7:00pm. Address: 101 Hwy 11 N. Buy tickets
08/27/16 Kevin Costner & Modern West in Ocala, FL Circle Square Cultural Center United States
Time: 7:00pm. Address: 8395 SW 80th Street. Buy tickets
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5 Things To-Do Before Vacation Starts


Prior to hitting the road –

  1. Setting aside swimming trunks (getting to use them in warmer climes after they’ve clogged your drawer space ALL YEAR LONG)
  2. Packing that 1 book you’ve been meaning to read FOR EONS
  3. Buying some favorite “road warrior” snacks – examples include: Beef jerky (Mingua, if you can find it), Clif bars (Carrot Cake), Twizzlers (Cherry Pull ‘n’ Peel), enough Coke Zero to get to Destination: Wherever
  4. Printing paper directions [Just in Case – power on the Eastern seaboard abates, cell phones die, tech fails mid-trip]
  5. Adding those top 10 favorite albums to your car playlist (yes, Bob Marley should be in there…somewhere)


Let’s go!


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Sing, Write, Whatever You Do In Life. Offer Your Best.



Had the good fortune of seeing John Mark McMillan play in Chattanooga last night at The Camp House. If you haven’t caught him on his Tongues of Fire tour, I highly recommend it.

I’ve heard this music scene described as a hipster, Jesus convention, but hey, Jesus loves hipsters, too. Right? And we ARE capable of looking away from the skinny jeans, if we try hard enough. (I think I’m just jealous I can’t fit into skinny jeans.)


I couldn’t help but marvel at a performer so on fire for eternal truths, genuine conversation with his audience.

It was great to see a “younger” audience (I’m dating myself, I know) tied into the deeper topics as well. One song which especially stood out to me, and I hadn’t heard before was titled: Future / Past, and the lyrics are below:

“Future / Past” by John Mark McMillan ::

You hold the reins on the sun and the moon
Like horses driven by kings
You cover the mountains, the valleys below
With the breadth of your mighty wings

All treasures of wisdom and things to be known
Are hidden inside your hand
And in this fortunate turn of events
You ask me to be your friend
You ask me to be your friend

And you,
You are my first
You are my last
You are my future and my past

The constellations are swimming inside
The breadth of your desire
Where could I run, where could I hide
from your heart’s jealous fire

All treasures of wisdom and things to be known
Are hidden inside your hand
And in this fortunate turn of events
You ask me to be your friend
You ask me to be your friend

And you,
You are my first
You are my last
You are my future and my past

You are the beginning and the end”


If this were a Sunday school lesson, I’d say ‘Amen,’ and we’d all head home. But, I wanted to bring up the relevance of JMM’s ability to connect with his audience AND deliver a message. The 2 go hand-in-hand. And…he did this in a way I hadn’t seen in a loooong time.

It was refreshing.

He said about halfway through his set that he didn’t know what he’d done before he was writing songs, but he felt like he’d wasted it.

To him, any time prior to songwriting and singing had been squandered.

And, I’m starting to see the need in my own life (writing as an example), to live on purpose. To care for those around me.

I pray the same is happening in your life. Whether it’s singing, songwriting, or whatever gift you have: use it.

It was refreshing to see someone similar in age having such an impact on the world around him. I wanted to post a video of the live environment I was trying to describe above. Hope it works for you:


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Discovered something last night…

I dig Mozart.

More specifically Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 performed by Qian Jiang.

I didn’t realize this until hearing (and seeing) it performed live last night by the Chattanooga Symphony and Qian.

Sure I appreciated Mozart before this. He’s one of my “fab 5” for classical music (Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart). But, this performance took it a step further.

I admired the blending of light and dark musical notes. The pianist, Jiang, took it to another level. A fun video of her below:

Have you listened to symphony and seen a performer just skyrocket? Pianists play from memory. That’s right! No sheet music. No time for it, I guess.

Qian Jiang, of course, has played all over the world. But, my wife and I noticed how accomplishments (and accolades) went out the window when she sat down on the bench to play. She treated it like the first performance of her life. EPIC.

It was a performance like none I’d ever seen. What’s your favorite performance (band, concert, venue) of all-time?