Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

She Walked Away

July 16, 2010 2 comments

There is a song by Barlow Girl called “She Walked Away” that Sound of Faith has started covering occasionally when we play live. It’s a very emotional song that is basically a modern-day version of the parable of the Prodigal Son. At Sound of Faith’s last gig at the Kickin’ Bean, Jennifer sat alone on the stage, just her and the piano and sang a simple but powerful version of this song. What made it powerful to me was the memory, one that I haven’t thought of in a long time, which came to mind while she sang. It’s my own memory of when “She Walked Away”.

I don’t remember exactly what the year was, but I would have been about 9 years old, give or take a year, so it was the mid-80’s. My sister, who is 8 years my elder so about 17 at the time, had been doing some pretty odd things that day. I don’t remember why I was home instead of in school but I would guess it was probably spring break. My sister was supposed to be home watching after me while my parents were at work, but she obviously had other things on her mind. At one point, she carried her Casio keyboard and a stereo out to her car and left for a while before coming back. Late that afternoon she left again. She did not return home before my parents got home from work. I remember thinking she was going to be in big trouble, but I didn’t really grasp what was going on.

When my mom and dad got home, I knew something was really wrong. I don’t know if my sister had called them, or if it was just the letter she had left behind, but she had basically decided that she had had enough of following my parent’s rules and had decided to strike it out on her own. She had left a letter for our parents as I said, but it is one I never read. I don’t recall if I tried and wasn’t allowed to, or if I just didn’t realize its importance.  I do remember it was more than one page though, because the memory that came to mind as Jennifer sang was of my mom and dad, sitting at the dining room table, each of them holding a page of the letter she had left, and crying. I knew at the time that they were pretty angry but I wasn’t mature enough to understand all of the emotions that must have really been attacking them at that moment. As a parent now, I can only imagine the worst.

You see, my sister didn’t just run away to a friend’s house or out into the woods or anything like that. No, she had pawned the keyboard and stereo in order to buy a one-way bus ticket from Charlotte, North Carolina to Anaheim, California where a friend of hers had recently moved (a friend that my parents were not very fond of for various reasons).  I don’t believe that my sister had actually told my parents where she was going, but from calling various friends’ parents they were able to figure it out that evening.

The next few days were a blur. I can recall my dad talking to my sister on the phone and arguing. I remember my sister saying it was a 3-day bus trip to California and that she had seen snow on the cactuses on the side of the road. I had thought that was really cool, especially since it was spring. I remember that for whatever reason, my sister’s friend’s family would not let her stay there and that she had agreed to come home. My dad had wired her the money for the bus ticket back, which hurt a lot since our family had pretty much always lived from paycheck to paycheck.

About a week after the ordeal had started, my sister was to arrive back home. That is one of the only times I intentionally skipped school in my life. I told my parent’s that I didn’t feel well and they let me stay home, even though my dad later told me he knew I wasn’t sick. Even as a 9 year old, I remember the love and relief that I felt when my sister walked back through the door. Even though I was the little bother and my sister and I had not always gotten along well, I had truly missed her and was glad she was home.

So as a parent of three children now, it makes me very emotional to think about going through that same situation as a father instead of as a brother. On top of the anger that I knew my parents had for their rebellious child, I am certain that there was a great deal of fear and hurt that was also there. As a parent, you want to do whatever is right and good for your kids. You want to keep them safe and teach them all of the correct ways to do things. To have that ripped out of your hands by the one you care so much about, to have your guardianship stripped away and your loved one forcing themselves upon a world that they are probably not ready for… Well, it would scare this father to death.

I cried while listening to Jennifer’s rendition of the song, because I was imagining what my father must have felt, pure and simple, and at the end of the song, I said a little prayer that I will never have to go through the same thing.

Barlow Girl
She Walked Away

She couldn’t take one more day
Home was more her prison now
Independence called out
She had to get it

A fight was all she needed
To give her reason
She slammed the door with no goodbye
And knew that it was time

Now she’s driving too fast
She didn’t care to glance behind
And through her tears she laughed
It’s time to kiss the past goodbye

I’m finally on my own
Don’t try to tell me no
There’s so much more for me
Just watch what I will be

She walked away
Couldn’t say why she was leaving
She walked away
She left all she had believed in
She walked away

Not a day goes by
For the one she’s left behind
They’re always asking why
And thoughts of her consume their mind

God please let her know
The love we tried to show
We’d promise anything
If you’d just bring her home

She walked away
Couldn’t say why she was leaving
She walked away
She left all she had believed in
She walked away

Tell her we love her
Tell her she’s wanted
One more thing God
Tell her please come home
Please come home

She walked away
Couldn’t say why she was leaving
She walked away
She left all she had believed in
She walked away

She walked away
Couldn’t say why she was leaving
She walked away
She left all she had believed in

The choice is yours alone now
Tell me how this story ends

Luke 15:20-24

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

A Day in the Life of Sound of Faith

July 14, 2010 1 comment

I was surprised a few days ago when I was speaking to a friend about one of Sound of Faith’s recent gigs. He asked how long we played for and for that particular event, a benefit for Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was about a 70 minute set. I then realized that in his mind, we were only “out” about an hour and a half of our day and he had dismissed it as minimal effort. So, with that in mind, I decided to give you guys a glimpse into what it’s like being in a local band and playing around the region. SoF played this past Saturday at a new church-run coffee house, Kickin’ Bean run by House of Worship in North Wilkesboro, NC.

9:00 AM – Wake up. Jennifer got up early with the kids and took the twins to a church fund-raiser breakfast. Alex slept in a bit so I got to as well.

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM – We do various things with the family during the day. When we know we are going to be gone that evening, we try to spend as much time with the kids as possible during the day. I miss not being able to put them to bed at night, so I try to soak them up as much as I can.

3:00 PM – I head to our practice space and put new strings on the Les Paul. I broke a string at our last gig, the Make-A-Wish benefit I mentioned before, and have just used a backup guitar (my el-cheap-o Heartfield Talon IV) for practice. I was lazy, but I needed the Les Paul for the gig, so of course I waited until the last minute to get it ready.

3:30 PM – I pack up the 3 electric guitars (the LP, Hearthfield and my Strat), 1 acoustic (Alvarez), pedal board, guitar stand, cables, and band merchandise and got them ready to load up.

3:40PM – Sean (Bassist) arrives. He and I load all of the guitars, amps, effects, drums, keyboard, stands, merchandise and video equipment into the 2 vehicles for transport. For this gig, we were using the sound system from the venue, so we didn’t need to take mains, monitors, PA amps or the sound board. When we need all of that, we usually rent a U-Haul instead.

3:45 PM – Babysitter arrives. Jennifer (My wonderful wife and SoF’s lead vocalist) gets her settled with the kids while Sean and I are loading up. With both of us in the band, babysitting is necessary for every practice and gig. Most of the time we use family to babysit, but tonight, it’s a wonderful lady from the preschool the twins go to. She has babysat for us before and the kids love her, so it’s not much trouble. There are times when Jennifer and I have to leave to the sound of screaming 2-year-olds. We always joke that the grandparents will be like the ones in the AirTran Commerical.

4:00 PM – We hit the road. Our gig is in North Wilkesboro and we are shooting to get there by 5:30 and play at 7:00. Jennifer and I ride together with most of the equipment. Sean and Scott (Sound guy, roadie and all-around great guy) have the drums. Tasha (Keyboards and Vocals), Vicki (Vocals) and Joe (Drummer) are all going to meet the four of us there. Joe is a pall bearer for a funeral for his ex-grandfather-in-law this same afternoon, or else he would have helped pack and load up.

5:25 PM – Jennifer and I arrive at House of Worship. We walk in and are greeted by the manager / worship leader, Warren. The stage is nice and big and the lighting is some of the best we’ve played with. The coffee shop is bigger than it looked on the web site and would seat 50-60 people with more standing. It’s early though, so only the manager, a barista and one patron are there.

5:35 PM – Sean and Scott show up. They had to make a stop along the way and then they miss the entrance of the venue. Once there, we discuss the equipment setup and realize that the manager is not going to let us take the “cage” down. What is the cage? It is a 5 ½’ tall Plexiglas wall surrounding the drum set for their house band. The drums sit in the corner of the stage and the surround goes wall-to-wall with one section of the Plexiglas on hinges for a door. The surround is not that unusual however. We have played other places that wanted us to use a drum surround. What is unusual is the roof on the “cage”. Sitting directly on top of the 5 ½’ wall is a dense foam ‘roof’ which completely covers the drums all the way to the corner making the drum ‘room’ fully enclosed. The ‘roof’ is pretty low and I have to duck just to get to the drums. Then the drums are mic’d and run through the sound system so that the sound guy has complete control over the drum volume. Apparently the house band drummer is a bit heavy handed with the sticks and has little dynamic ability.

5:45 PM – Sean calls Joe to see how close he is and get his take on the drum enclosure. Joe is still in the Lincolnton area but on his way. He’s going to be pushing it to be on time. He says he will just use the house band’s drums rather than take the “cage” down and put it back up around his drums. He just wants some of his own cymbals and a wood block.

5:50 PM – We carry all of the equipment (minus the drums) into the venue and up to the stage area. I wonder how big we have to get to hire roadies…

6:00 PM – I clear the stage of any equipment not needed for us and then setup my pedal board, wireless system and the video camera (we are videoing this evening). Jennifer gets all of my guitars out of their cases and sets them up on the stand rack. Sean and Tasha setup bass and keyboard equipment. Scott works with the manager to see how the sound system is setup and begins tweaking settings.

6:25 PM – Ready to sound check… except, we still don’t have a drummer. Sean calls Joe to see how close he is but just gets his voicemail. We decide to do a preliminary check anyway, but quickly realize that since the drums will be running completely through the sound system, we really can’t do much without him.

6:45 PM – I call Joe again and find out he is only a mile or two down the road. I wait for him outside and give him the scoop on the setup on the way in. We all kid him about being a diva because he avoided the hard work and just wants to walk in and play.

6:50 PM – Joe tweaks the drums, sets up his cymbals and complains about the ‘cage’. Can’t say I blame him.

7:00 PM – Sound check for real this time. We go about halfway through Hand That Holds the World and then stop. Monitors sound good and Scott says the mains are right. We are also noticing that there are not very many people here. Including the employees, there are maybe 15 people not associated with the band here. Unfortunately this is not that uncommon. Although I think we are pretty darn good, we just have not built up a name to attract a crowd.

7:05 PM – The band, plus Scott and Warren retreat to a parlor-like area where we can pray before the show. We always have a group prayer just prior to practices and shows and usually afterwards as well. Warren leads us in prayer and then we depart for the stage.

7:15 PM – We play our first set. We are trying a couple of new things tonight. One is that to lengthen the set and provide some variety, we have added a few songs that do not use the full band. Each of them just has guitar or piano for accompaniment and a single vocal (in one case Tasha does sing harmony.)

8:15 PM – Break time! We are playing 23 songs tonight and the voices need a break. We get water and iced coffees, hit the restroom, and socialize a bit with the patrons a bit before going back up for the second set.

8:35 PM – Second Set.  One of the patrons has asked us to repeat a song from the first set because they liked it so much. We decide to add it in just before the finale. One of the new songs we are playing tonight, “Your Hands”, is with just Jennifer on vocals and me on acoustic guitar. I only learned this song yesterday and then not even with playing live in mind. I just liked it. But then Jennifer said “I have a great idea…” and now here we are on staging playing it. It goes pretty well. I change one thing up in the song and Jennifer only falters slightly. We pull it back together with little effort. I also mess Joe’s entry up on Mirror because I am distracting him with questions (through the Plexiglas cage)

9:40 PM – Break down time. Joe, Sean, Scott, Tasha, Vicki and I start putting all of the equipment back in the cases and taking them back out the vehicles. The manager gets on stage and asks for a love offering for SoF. It is a modest collection due to the turnout, but we have played for free many times, so it is appreciated. Jennifer does the PR work. She sells 3 CD’s, accepts one other modest donation and gets leads for 2 more possible future gigs.

10:00 PM – The band heads for Wendy’s. I have not eaten since a bowl of Campbell’s soup at lunch time and Jennifer has only had a pack of crackers since breakfast. We go in, get our food and cut up like a bunch of teenagers while we eat. Fellowship within this group of people is amazing and I am truly blessed to be a part of it.

11:15 PM – We drive home. Sean, Scott, Jennifer and I head back to our house since we still have to unload equipment from both vehicles. We remember it’s late on Saturday night so we turn the XM Radio to The Message Amp’d for some heavy Christian Rock to keep us awake on the way home.

12:20 AM – Jennifer and I get home and she goes upstairs to relieve the babysitter while I unload all of the guitars, keyboards, merchandise, etc. from my vehicle.

12:45 AM — Sean and Scott show up and I help unload the drums as well. They stood around talking at Wendy’s after Jennifer and I left so they were running behind.

1:10 AM – Finally get to bed and collapse. Jennifer and I have to get up on Sunday morning at 6:45 because she co-leads the music for the 8:45 church service.

So as you can see, for a gig where we play for 2 hours in front of about 15 people, I actually spent over 10 hours in all on the prep, travel, breakdown, etc. This is a moderate gig. We have played at times where the setup and breakdown were so minimal that we basically walked onto stage with instruments in hand and played. Other times we take our own full sound system, which requires a lot more time for setup and breakdown.

But, I don’t do this because a get a high from playing in front of a lot of people, because we usually don’t. And I don’t do it because we make a lot of money. In 7 years of this, I have never taken a dime for anything I do with the band, except maybe for an expense reimbursement. I don’t do it because it’s easy. It would be a lot easier not to. I play in a Christian band, because I think we have a good message, and as long as there is someone listening, I am hopeful that the message is like the seeds falling on fertile ground. Where it will grow and we will be a part of bringing someone to Christ.

Harry Potter is not Evil

July 12, 2010 4 comments

So… I have now missed my first self-imposed deadline… Oh well… I had intended for this to go up on Friday, but my band had a gig and I got involved with my church’s web site and well, it didn’t. We can live with it just this once right?

I was speaking to a fellow parishioner at my church a couple of years ago, when one of the Harry Potter movies (I think it was Order of the Phoenix) was being released, about whether they were going to take their children to go see it.  Their children at the time were pre-teen and perhaps unsurprisingly, they said “no” because they felt it was inappropriate. Well, the movie is rated PG-13, and has some violence and can been pretty intense, so I didn’t think a lot about it until I spoke about it to someone else, also a pretty close friend. Their response: “Harry Potter performs sorcery and you know where that kind of power comes from.”  Their concern was not about the things that made the film PG-13, it was because the main character, the good-guy used magic.

So, here we are on the brink of a new Harry Potter movie, Deathly Hallows which comes out this fall. So I suppose the question still remains: As a Christian is it wrong to see the movie, or let my children see it? Well, I am not much for suspense, so I will say right away: “No, I don’t think so”. By saying so, I am sure that it will trouble those who feel like my friend above, but keep reading, because you might learn something.

I must make one disclaimer right up front. My oldest child is five, so no; my children will not be watching Harry Potter for a little while at least. We’ll stick to Pixar and Veggietales for now.  Not because of any perceived evil or stain to their Christian beliefs, but because I just don’t think it is appropriate for children that age. But, this question is not just about Harry Potter, right? If you take the argument to its logical extent, any main character that uses magic of some sort would not be appropriate for a Christian child. The list of banned TV shows and movies would include, but not be limited to: Witches of Waverly Place, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Lord of the Rings, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Pokemon, Fantasia and even The Smurfs (Papa Smurf was a wizard). So, we can certainly find from that list age-appropriate material to discuss.  And no, I do not feel like Mickey Mouse or Papa Smurf are inappropriate for my five-year old. In fact, I cannot remember ever speaking to someone who did. So why the inconsistency?

I get questions from my oldest son all the time such as “Are there bad guys in real life?” or “Are there really such things as aliens?” and I always do my best to answer him in a way that is truthful and makes sense to a 5-year-old without being too frightening. I don’t lie (Except maybe about Santa and the Easter Bunny) and I don’t say I don’t know when I do. So I am very prepared to discuss things like Papa Smurf or Harry Potter with my son and help him to understand the differences between truth and fiction and what is acceptable behavior verses what he sees on TV. I have no problem with him seeing a TV show with someone who performs magic, but I don’t want him to go and try it himself. (I feel the same way about high-explosives) I’m not talking about card tricks and disappearing hankies; he loves that kind of stuff. I just don’t want him thinking he is “casting spells” and the like. I know that he can distinguish TV from reality. How do I know? Because we talk about it and I do my job as a father to help him understand.

It seems that many people are not willing to have these types of discussions with their children. It is certainly much easier for them to block out an entire section of popular TV and film and then they don’t have to talk about it. Except… their kids will see it eventually anyway, and since the parents banned it, it will not be under their supervision. It will have been made into a forbidden fruit, and the kids will bite. The parents will not be there to discuss it with them, and since they didn’t take the opportunity to discuss it before, the children will not have the foundational beliefs that could have been provided.

It’s not the easy way, but communication and honest discussion with your children is the best way to instill in them your belief system. Sheltering them from things like magic in a movie will not help them make good decisions when confronted with decisions in real life. But if you can discuss and help them understand what they see, they will be much better prepared when they have to make choices on their own.

I think somewhere along the way , someone decided that Harry Potter was a good example to make and said to their friend “I won’t take my kids to see Harry Potter because he does magic… and that’s bad.”  And their friend had kids and suddenly felt guilty because they had planned to see it, so they said “Oh yeah, of course not.” and cancelled their plans. Before you knew it families in churches everywhere were saying “No” to Harry Potter and instead taking their kids to see movies with talking animals and vegetables and… wait, now where does that power come from?