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May you and your families have a blessed holiday season and happy new year!
This month I launched a new web series called Drive-By Blessing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, like, forever, that I finally managed to pull-together.
“Drive-By Blessing” is what I used to jokingly say at the hospital in Hawaii where I worked when I’d walk passed co-workers. I’d pretend to bless them on the go, miming the ti leave waving motions associated with a traditional Hawaiian blessing. Chaplain humor.
Here is Episode 4.
For an indication of an early midlife crisis one needs to look no further than the band reunion.
In 1997, 9 out of every 10 people you met on the street played in a Ska band. Threefold Cord were 9 of those people. Having all met while attending North Park University in Chicago, we quickly set out to break the record for the number of band members you can fit in a Nissan Sentra (7, don’t tell the cops).
Recording an EP and two albums in six years, our mission was simple: to share the love of God and make as many uncoordinated people as possible dance throughout the U.S. and Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
Often spelled horribly wrong on show flyers, the name Threefold Cord comes from the verse Ecclesiastes 4:12:
Although one may be overpowered, two can withstand one; a cord of three strands is not quickly broken
Professional definers define Ska as:
Ska (/ˈskɑː/, Jamaican [skjæ]) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the offbeat.
I would have just said it goes chucka-chucka-chucka real fast with horns.
Now let’s be clear, we were neither Jamaican, Caribbean, Calypso or had much in the way of rhythm or blues. When you picture any of these genres, you see cool people with beautiful dark skin playing music in colorful shirts on a beach or cruise ship. We were a bunch of pasty white guys practicing in a frigid multi-purpose room on a northside Chicago campus.
Imagine a long game of telephone where the message becomes distorted and much different than the original. We were the distortion. We began as third wave ska and evolved into what one friend and wanna-be music critic called “post-ska.” Whatever dude.
Threefold Cord had a full horn section with trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone; a rhythm section with bass, guitar, and drums; and two random dancers. Yes, two guys not physically graceful by any means whose sole job was to dance. And dance they did. Inspired by the Mighty Mighty Bosstone’s dancer and backup vocalist Ben Carr, we wanted to up the ante with Lead Dancer and Rhythm Movement.
We played a lot of gigs in a lot of church basements, clubs, coffee shops, and lawns over our six-year existence. We wrote several songs (some of which you can download by clicking here), played at CHIC (Not to be confused with a baby bird convention or a gathering of Chick-Fillet enthusiasts, CHIC is the triennial youth conference for the Evangelical Covenant Church), and somehow convinced North Park to sponsor a nationwide summer tour for the first and last time.
We played 35 shows across the country in two months ensuring we’d have tinnitus for the rest of our natural lives.
About every few years after our final show we’d start a conversation that ended with “Hey, we should get back together and stuff and write some stuff someday.” But something happens when you approach 40 that makes you realize your somedays and stuff are limited.
We’re Getting the Band Back Together!
In early 2016 we started talking again about a band reunion and this time it actually happened. Spearheaded by random dancer turned lead guitar player-songwriter-sound engineer-pastor, Matt King, we exchanged several text messages, and if you can believe it, a few phone calls. We started dusting off our songs, and before we knew it, we had two shows lined up. It helps when two of the band members become pastors and can book you at their church. We descended upon western Iowa from all corners of the states, and after an obligatory chest bump or two, we got right to work. The shows were fun and full of the same uncoordinated arm flail dance moves we were accustomed to seeing in the past.
We played two shows and even got invited to play a short set at a neighborhood BBQ with a few other local bands.
One of the best parts about the reunion was for the fathers in the band to have the opportunity to share this important part of their lives with their kids. With nine guys now all married, there are a lot of mini band member lookalikes running around. After the shows, a few of them even started talking about starting a band of their own. We’ve officially passed the madness down to the next generation. (Sorry next generation.)
Despite living in five different states, we continue to write and record music together long distance. The reunion inspired us to keep the creativity we love flowing. Here’s one of our new songs called Potato Gun, a song that has a story of its own….but we’ll save that for another time.
See you in the next conga line,
You know that part in Back to the Future when Marty speeds through the mall parking lot away from the Plutonium villains and cracks into 1955 almost hitting a scarecrow and driving into a barn?
Of course you do.
Sometimes life feels that way doesn’t it? Like you’re in 1985 one second then the next you’re being interrogated by a confused farmer and his family.
We’ve all been there.
The first part I was excited about. Birthdays still remind me of cake and the roller rink and awkwardly singing the birthday song in staff meetings to people I don’t know.
The second part though, the 39 bit, whoa. Hold on, is that even possible? 39, that’s a year away from 40. I don’t care how many times you say 40 is the new 21 and cackle and high-five your friends and lift a drink to the sky, 40 is officially old. I’m no longer a Spring Chicken. I’m a Late Summer/Early Fall Chicken with only one place left to go: Winter Chicken.
I know I’m getting older because I have a daily regiment that includes trimming nose hairs taking a thyroid pill and spraying my feet. If I stop any of these things even for one day I will die. Fine I won’t die but I’ll have a hard time breathing through my nose, staying awake, and walking due to my sweaty dogs. Oh, that’s gross? You know what else is gross? Not being able to stop the hands of time! I’m 364 days away from 40!
You know what else is crazy? I woke up this morning for the first time as a resident of Portland, Oregon. 24 hours ago we lived in Honolulu. Oh you think I’m making this up? Just look at me 24 hours ago:
(That top picture is actually 6 months ago, you probably figured that it wasn’t really 24 hours ago, but I’m almost 40 so I don’t have time for ambiguity. Plus the beard.)
We looked at apartments today with these strange things in them:
On the reals, (an expression almost 40-year olds use to sound younger) we’re SO excited to be here. Living in Hawaii was amazing and we’re grateful for the opportunity to continue our careers, passions, and hopefully start a family in Portland. Christi is continuing her nursing career and I’m taking a sabbatical, a fancy word for “help I need a job.”
Can’t wait to explore the city, get together with friends, and see how this adventure unfolds.
I thank God for our time in Hawaii and want to learn how to walk in faith in greater ways. In other words, try not to freak out when I don’t have all the answers to what neighborhood we’re going to live in or what I’m going to do just yet.
Until then I plan on walking over a lot of bridges and eating plenty of doughnuts.
- Don’t get lazy and copy and paste the same text to multiple people even if it’s your birthday. Today I called my mom Camille.
- One doughnut per sitting is enough. You’ll try them all in good time.
- If you have a maple bacon doughnut for lunch, plan on walking over a lengthly bridge to ensure your heart will continue to beat for years to come.
Found spacing out while slowly shuffling Uno cards at Holy Grounds coffee shop yesterday, a beffuddled Jason Wellington recalled the events surrounding the recent break-up with Alissa Jones, his girlfriend of nearly 8 months.
“She basically said God told her to do it. In fact that’s exactly what she said. That God told her to break up with me,” said Wellington pointing a blue Draw Two card toward the sky. “I was perplexed because she always told me she was thankful God brought us together.”
Jason and Alissa met as counselors last summer at Camp Lakes of the Cove Ranch, beginning their courtship known as Fandango and Stargaze or “Fan-Gaze” by other staff.
“Fan-Gaze were like two arrows on the same archery bullseye,” said camp director Chuck “Big Kahuna” McKinsey. “Rarely did you see one without the other.”
“She changed her profile pic to the Fandango paper bag girl…I mean that’s how serious we were,” said Wellington.
“Well, it leaves little room for rebuttal doesn’t it?” said chiropractor and relationship specialist Barbara Leeman. “When one claims God is leading them in another direction you don’t want to be responsible for getting in the way. The truth is God does call some of us to be single. Myself, The Apostle Paul, Jesus. We can’t all be King Solomon.”
“The sad thing is her profile picture is now a plate of cookies..so I know what that means.” said Wellington, flinging the rest of the bright colored cards toward the game basket. “I saw the way Snickerdoodle looked at her across the camp fire. I guess when she said ‘leading me in another direction’ she meant towards him.”
At the time of printing Doodle-Gaze was unavailable for comment.
Now you can achieve a Master of Divinity in the time it takes you to stream your favorite show on Netflix thanks to Universal Monastery of the Milky Way.
According to UDoubleMW.org the MDiv30 curriculum “provides a solid theological foundation for ministry leaders to successfully engage the local and global issues of our day in a variety of contexts.”
“We’ve been ordaining for years and now we’re proud to offer a strong educational component,” said President Ralph Willow. “We’ve condensed classes which would traditionally be 4-semester hours into 3-dynamic life enriching minutes.”
While students can choose from a broad range of Bible, Church History, and Spiritual Formation core classes and electives, a strong sense of call to invest a half hour online may look like:
“We know making a decision to pursue advanced training is not an easy one,” said Willow, “which is why halfway through completion we’ve included a 15-second session with one of our certified spiritual speed directors at no extra cost.”
Complete with a one-click graduation ceremony playing a choice of Doxology or Pomp and Circumstance and a printable diploma (frames available at extra charge), applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Get In, Get Out, Get Blessing
Matthew Wilson, Worship Pastor for First Hope Calvary Chapel, was rushed to the emergency room for exhaustion and dehydration after singing and playing guitar for 19 consecutive hours.
Witnesses say Wilson never stopped playing the popular praise song I Could Sing of Your Love Forever long after Sunday morning’s service was supposed to end.
“He just kept singing and playing the chorus,” said keyboardist/violinist/vocalist Rachel Moore. “Even after everyone left he was up there praising away.”
While songs typically go long due to Wilson encouraging the congregation to “sing so heaven can hear you,” band members claim this is the first time anything like this has ever happened.
“I tracked with him as long as I could but my hands started to blister,” said drummer Ben Thomas. “I heard him change the words from ‘I could sing of your love forever’ to ‘I will sing of your love forever.’ I guess he was serious.”
“I’m proud to say I hung in there for about 52 choruses,” said church member Bill Bradley. “But my wife was giving me that look so I had to go.”
“I think at some point he got it in his mind he was going to spend the rest of his life on earth playing that song,” said Sr. Pastor Darrin Tyrrell. “I believe if his body hadn’t failed him he’d still be up there. Sometimes our spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Christian psychologist Dr. Fiona Nordlund BCC, MSW, PsyD claims that while this type of louange extrême or “extreme praise” heightens during the Easter season, Wilson’s act was beyond the norm.
“It’s not uncommon to see marathon sign dance rehearsals, decoration committees hanging flowers at odd hours, nationwide palm branch shortages. People can really stress themselves out for the Prince of Peace, especially around Holy Week.”
A source close to WIlson’s family said he’s steadily recovering but not out of the woods. When asked how he was feeling Wilson said “like dancing….it’s foolishness I knoOoo,” before falling unconscious once again.
In a feat congregants attribute to “a just act from a merciful God,” the tech team of Emmanuel Church of the Crossroads successfully played a video during it’s 8:30am service on the first attempt.
“As soon as Pastor Alex turned our attention to the screen during his sermon I braced myself for at least 30 to 45 seconds of silence,” said long time member Ben McAllister, “but the silence never came. No blue screen. No spinning load icon. Not a single side cough slow head swivel toward the back….nothing. It just played.”
As the slideshow of the Young at Hearts ministry picnic began, audible gasps were heard as pictures of church members age 55 and above tossing horseshoes rotated seamlessly.
“My jaw hit the communion cup holder,” Gale Simmons, another in attendance said, “I just could not believe what I was seeing. It was like how you’d imagine a video playing in heaven.”
Jason Carlson, the tech team Spring intern who cued the video was just as awestruck.
“I felt like yeah, it was my finger that clicked the mouse, but we all know who really started the video here this morning. I’d be a fool to take credit away from the Holy Spirit.”
72-year-old Deborah Davis who’s been attending church for over 40 years explained how she never thought she’d live to see this day.
“I tell you when you’ve been going to church as long as I have you think you’ve seen it all. But when that video started to play right away like that…I sat there and gave my life to Jesus all over again. It truly affirms miracles are possible in the here and now.”
Photo courtesy of audiovideogroup.com
I’m not sure exactly when it happened. I’m not even sure how it happened. All I know is somewhere along the line, much to the disdain of my Fighting Illini loving friends and family, I became a Michigan Wolverine football fan. I can hear my cousin Mike in an orange beanie yelling, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” from Decatur as I type.
This is my confession.
Let it serve as a warning to those who think they can dabble in team interest without being enthralled by yellow and blue fervor.
If it happened to me, it can happen to you.
It starts out so innocently you know. A game here, a ‘look at all those people in that stadium” there. You begin causally grazing stats in the newspaper. You’re pleased when Jim Harbaugh is announced as the new coach. You catch yourself humming “The Victors” fight song and breaking eye contact early with anyone from Ohio.
Your outbursts at bad calls are increasing. You go to your first game at the Big House and your attire matches all the people around you minus chest paint. Why is there a cheese plate in the shape of an M on my kitchen table? And that’s when it hits you. You don’t make cheese plates for nothing. You’re a frickin’ fan.
“WHYYYYYYYYYY?!,” yells Grandpa Carl from a leaf covered driveway.
I’m afraid so. It’s undeniable. As I sit here, I can’t wait to watch the rest of the games this season. We ordered the Big 10 network just so we wouldn’t miss a snap. This is all too real and I have the chips in the cushions of my couch to prove it.
I grew up like any other kid in Illinois, eating orange jello in the fall. My family took me to visit U of I. We have family pictures on campus. I have grandparents and aunts and cousins who went to school there. I visited their dorms. I even went to football games. Shouldn’t this be enough to entrench my loyalty? What happened?!
I met a girl.
She proudly takes the blame for this. Growing up in the shadows of The Big House, my wife Christi is no casual fan. It’s a scary moment in any marriage when you see the speed and precision at which your spouse can hurl a throw pillow. I used to wake up in cold sweats to the sounds of yelling, cheering, shouting…and that was before kickoff.
I made the mistake one time of saying, “Go Big Blue.” I thought black and blue was going to be the color of my eye.
An innocent mistake, I now know it’s “Go Blue.”
No “Big.” Nooooooooooo “Big.”
In my defense I tried to resist, I really did, but somewhere along the line my heart shifted and I have no choice but to go with it. Fall is the season to embrace transformation. Sometimes change happens as we strive to better ourselves, sometimes….it just happens.
Where are you embracing transformation this fall?
Don’t get me wrong, there will always room in my heart for orange jello.