Tag Archives: interview

Updated Review Policy and My Love Note to the FTC

10 Mar

Hear ye, hear ye!  I have updated parts of Backseat Writer’s Review Policy and added a bit of plain speak to my FTC Disclosure.  Read on, you know you want to…

REVIEW POLICY

Request for reviews/interview/marriage proposals can be sent to amy@backseatwriter.com.

Why, yes, I would love to review your album, book, movie, or product!  Due to time restraints, that book I’m eventually going to write, and my personal preferences, I may not be able to honor all requests for reviews, interviews, or Nigerians who want to wire me money.

Before you hit me up with your latest and greatest, please note that I will only accept music for review (and artist interviews) that is downloadable or send to me via snail mail.  Additionally, I will only accept books that are readable on Kindle or sent to me in hard copy format (again, in the mail).  My reasoning?  I need my music and reading material to be portable—to go with me where I need to go.  That’s how I live life and that’s how I review materials.  I cannot be chained to my computer listening to music or reading books.

Additionally, I retain the right to accept or reject all materials based on quality of content and whether or not I believe the materials fit in with the vision of Backseat Writer.  Usually I can tell whether or not something is a good fit by the press release and I will tell you so before you send materials, so feel free to send your queries to amy@backseatwriter.com.

I also added this to that terribly interesting FTC Disclosure or what I like to call “My Love Note to the FTC”…

I do not get paid to do reviews or interviews (though if anyone wants to hire me for freelance work, I’m listening.)  I do not accept money in exchange for posting press releases or endorsements.  All content is generated for the pure love and joy of writing!

Links included in posts are for informational purposes only and are never composed for the purpose of including advertising.

No record company, publisher, publicist, band, artist, hobbit, or gnome will ever influence the content, topics, or posts made in this Backseat Writer, though they may inspire a few!

Any time you want to review parts of my publications policies, you can click on the “About Backseat Writer” tab and read your little heart out.  It is slightly more interesting than watching paint peel.

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Anne Jackson Gives Others Permission to Speak Freely

12 Oct

Author Anne Jackson is a refreshingly honest person.  And it’s that refreshing honesty she brings to her latest book, Permission to Speak Freely, a combination of essays, poetry, and artistic confession (read review).   Her message to readers is simple—you are not alone.  Delivering the message via her book was a two year process that began with a simple blog post asking the question, “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?”  Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Anne Jackson about her personal demons, confessions, and of course, Permission to Speak Freely.

Initially, when Jackson asked readers the question on her blog, FlowerDust.net, she did not know she would end up writing a book. “Once I saw the response I got, I was just blown away, and it was during the time I was thinking about writing a second book.  I saw this hit a nerve and thought maybe this is what the second book should be about,” says Jackson.

Over the course of the next year, Jackson considered how the poignant answers would be best reflected in a book.  She decided to add in an element of art asking her blog readers to send in artistic confessions, like the ones she saw on PostSecret.  Conscious about not wanting to rip off PostSecret, Jackson decided to add in her own essays.  The poetry came later, Jackson says, “It still felt a little too structured and I thought, ‘You know what?  I love to write poetry.  I’ve been writing poetry since high school.  Why not put some of that in there?’  The poetry in the book tells part of the story, too.”  One poem tells the story of how Jackson was abused by a youth pastor at the fragile age of 16.

The result of Jackson’s labor is a book that is inviting both to the eye and to the spirit, and that’s what Jackson wants—a book that reaches people on different levels.  She shares, “I think people respond to written text.  I think some people respond to art and some people are drawn more to poetry and obscure thought.  Maybe a little bit of something will reach everybody and they’ll know they’re not alone, which is the bottom line of the message.”

When asked what she thinks is still an issue the church needs to talk more about, Jackson responds, “Self-harm.  It’s a hard issue to understand, which is why a lot of people stray away from talking about it.  It’s so, so common that it’s going to be like the new porn in a few years.  People are going to be so broken about it that it’s going to cause irreparable damage if we don’t start talking about it.”

She passionately adds, “The church doesn’t need to fix everything, sometimes it just needs to listen.”

As Jackson speaks about a private conflict, she airs her own doubts and weakness—something not often found in interviews.  Humbly she admits, “That’s what grace is for.  I wrote about it, but yet I still very much struggle with understanding and grasping God’s grace for myself.”

Turning to page 95 of her book, Jackson recounts a conversation she had with a friend who is 40 years her senior (Jackson is 30).  She reads, “‘…you can’t will yourself to transformation.  There’s nothing you can do to make your heart “get” it.  Nothing.  You can prepare for it, and be receptive when it comes, but that’s all you can do.  You just have to step back and let it soak in.’”

Then she adds, “I know this, I know this, I know this!  Why can my heart not receive it?  I felt like I needed to transform my heart, but as long as I’m faithful and obedient and open and willing to be molded—that’s all I’m really responsible for.  In God’s time, He is going to transform the areas of my life that need to be transformed. It may be slow or fast or painful, but only He can truly transform my heart if I let him, and that ‘if I let Him’ is the part I’m responsible for.  That’s something I learned during the course of writing the book.”

However, Jackson says that everyone should use discernment and acknowledges that some may face repercussions from speaking freely, “When I started to share my story about addictions, I was working in a church and I thought, ‘I could totally lose my job over this,’ even though I wasn’t actively doing it then.  I was in recovery and therapy and had accountability.”

She continues, “I learned that God doesn’t call us to keep things in the dark; He calls us to confess.  He promises us over and over again in Scripture that He will forgive us and He will show us mercy.  People may not give us that same mercy because they’re broken.  There may be consequences for speaking freely and that comes with the package. It may not be pleasant…at all.”

Refusing to sugarcoat the issue, Jackson says that some admissions like pornography or drug addiction require action, treatment, and may even take some out of ministry for a while.  She encourages, “Know that you’re being obedient.  Know that God promises to be merciful and faithful.  He’s not going to leave you hanging.  You’re not falling without a net.”  She advises to allow God to guide readers in what to say, who to say it to, and what action to take to find healing.

In closing, Jackson passionately says, “You are not alone.  There are a ton of issues that I haven’t experience, but we all experience brokenness.  Please share whatever secret is that is weighing on you, at least to one person. I love what James 5:16 says, ‘Confess your sins one to another that you can live together whole and healed.’ That term ‘healed’ meanings ‘lifting,’ like lifting a weight off your chest.  When you confess, you have the burden lifted off your chest.”

She adds quietly, “And you’re not alone.”

For more information about Anne Jackson, visit her online at FlowerDust.net, follow her on Twitter (@flowerdust), and fan her on Facebook.

Hitchhiking with singer/songwriter Bebo Norman

21 Sep

It was with great anxiety and distress I awaited Bebo Norman’s scheduled phone call the morning after Labor Day.  Normally, I’m not like this, but then again, it’s not every day that I get to interview one of the singer/songwriters who has been so influential in my life.  The phone rang and I said a silent prayer, “Hello?”

“Hi, Amy.  It’s Bebo Norman.” Suddenly, everything was OK.  Disarming me with his quiet charm and easy-going nature, Bebo Norman is by all accounts a gentleman—one of the many reasons the man and his music have become so dear to me since I picked up his first album in 1996 as a mere teenager.

In this, my second interview with Bebo Norman, I decided to let you into our candid, and often, amusing conversation as we talk about our battles with anxiety, Bebo’s life, and of course, his new album, Ocean, releasing on BEC Recordings on September 28.

Amy: So, in celebration of your new album, do you have a favorite ocean?  I mean, there are seven of them.

Bebo: Ah. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Atlantic or the Pacific, but I haven’t spent time in the other oceans.  So I’ve have to go with those.  How ‘bout you?  Do you have a favorite ocean?

Amy: Probably the Atlantic or the Pacific.  I mean, my best friend fell into the Pacific Ocean off a small boat, so I’d have to go with that.  It’s hard to say, it’s like trying to pick a favorite star.

Bebo: I understand.  I’ve never tried to pick a favorite star, but there are so many to choose from.

We chat a bit about sea creatures, including the beauty of humpback whales.  I also learn that Bebo’s been on several cruises to Alaska and that Matthew West lives three blocks away.  I tell him that Matthew West’s new album is really great and he says that he hasn’t heard it.

Bebo: I tend to not be up to date on music.  Isn’t that ridiculous?

Amy: That’s hilarious!  I love that!

Bebo: I have to kind of disappear from music sometimes just to keep my head straight because it’s what I do, it’s my job, and it’s what I love.  I have to have some space.

Amy: Sometimes I get all these new releases and I’m like, “This is all crap and I hate it!” So I have to pop in something good and solid like Bebo Norman or Rich Mullins so I can remember what good music sounds like.

Bebo: I think that’s part of my problem.  I’ve always listened to music because it inspires me and what’s frustrating is that sometimes you listen to music and none of it inspires you, you start to think that no music will inspire you

Amy: I know!  It’s scary because I think, “What if people think my writing is this bad?”

Bebo: That’s part of the insecurity of being a creative person.  Every single songwriter writer, musician, journalist, I know has that same fear or thought.

Amy: Speaking of writing, you said that writing an album is like an extended therapy session.  I’ve been in therapy sessions and they’re very painful sometimes.  So, what is it like for you?

Bebo: It’s very painful, very painful, and it’s very beautiful.  It’s a cathartic process, which is the beauty of writing.  I didn’t start as a songwriter because I had any intention of playing songs for anybody.  When I started writing songs, it was just an extension of me trying to process life.  I found that, for me, whether it was poetry or songs it was the best way I could process things.

I wrote short stories and poetry before I started writing songs, but the combination of music and words is a pretty powerful and sort of inspiring thing.  That’s what caught me the most about songwriting.  I could write a poem or I could hear a piece of music and both of those things would be beautiful, but when they’re together there’s something magical and powerful that happens.

In ways, it’s the only way I really know how to process life.  It forces me to sit down and be quiet, and still and reflective and internal.  The busyness of life, especially these days, with touring and my family, my wife and kids, and my community here in Nashville—sitting down and being quiet—it’s hard to find those days.

Not to mention, if you do struggle with anxiety or those things when you get down and depressed, even when you do have those days where you can sit down and be quiet those struggles can sometimes steal the life out of those moments.  Writing songs is a very grounding thing for me.  That’s the same way therapy is—you’re forced to sit down with your thoughts and expose things that might not otherwise get exposed.

Amy: Some of the things I would talk about in therapy, I would not like to release to the world.  You said that an album is the best 60 minutes out of two years of your life, but still, sometimes it’s painful to hear.

Bebo: I’ve always struggled with laying out things that are personal and intimate.  Now that I’ve got a wife and two boys, there’s a certain level of caution to where I have to consider how what I put out there affects the people around me.

To me, everything I experience is fair game for a song.  I used to really struggle with the fear of laying those things out there.  Maybe I’m just old enough at this point or I’ve just been doing it long enough that now I’m not consumed with the perception might be wrong or right.  It’s more a matter of this is where I am and this is what I’m struggling with and I’m certain there are other people that are dealing with similar things, if not the same thing, and it’s important for these things to be spoken.  As believers, we think we’re not spiritual enough if we struggle with certain things.

Amy: Thank you for sharing that.  There are a lot of songs I want to talk about, but we don’t have time.  Let’s just plunge right into your favorite song, “The Middle,” which is also my favorite song.  I was listening to it last night and I was crying because I was feeling like that song is my life right now.  I’m not married, I don’t have kids, and I feel like my life is this middle of not where I was and not there yet.  Or maybe our lives here on planet earth are the middle.  I don’t know.

Bebo: I think you tapped into something there. There’s a reality that our lives in their current state are the middle.  We’re never fully home and our faith is never fully realized until the day Jesus calls us home or comes back.

Here’s the thing, when I say “the middle,” it may not mean the middle of life.  It happened to me when I was in college, and again in my 20’s, and again in my 30’s.  As static as they may feel at times, our lives are always in transition.  I revel in the idea of transition; the real struggle for me is when I’m stuck in between transition.  That’s where this song comes from, like, “Where am I right now in the middle of these things? I don’t feel like I’m moving.”  Like you mentioned a minute ago, you feel stuck and you’re in this place where you’re not quite sure where things are going and where they’ve been.

It’s not a song about being middle-aged.  I feel like we’re always in the state of being in the middle.  When we’re on this earth, we’re always in the middle and we’re always going to be stuck between our flesh and our spirit here.

Amy: You had this goal that you were going to write one blog post a day…what happened?

Bebo: It was way too ambitious a goal, and I knew that!  But those are the only kind of goals I know how to set—one that’s too ambitious

Amy: I told you that in your comments section, not that you listened.

Bebo: I even said in the first blog post that I will mostly likely fail at this and what I mean is that, I will fail at this.  But I really did want to go for it.  I have a dear friend who wrote a new song every day for one year of his life.  He said that 90% of the songs weren’t that special, but it taught him what the day had brought him. That’s kind of what I was hoping for with the whole blog thing.  I can’t just write a blog and say, “I took the kids to school and I slept late.”  There has to be some thought in it.  The reality of the busyness of life at this point; it just wasn’t even possible.  I could have sat down and written it, but it would have been at the expense of the people I love.

Amy: Well, that would have been utterly ridiculous!

Bebo: But it was a lesson learned.  That would be a good entry in and of itself—to talk about how it started taking it away from the people in front of me to appease a group of people I don’t even know, which is the real danger of social networking.  That’s why I failed miserably at it.  Well, that sounds too noble.  Actually there were too many days I didn’t feel about it.

I give Bebo some expert blogging advice, which he recognized from his comments section.  I tell him that he ignored my comments because I’m a “girl.” Then we talk about how guys always think girls want to hit on them.  I tell him that his recent blog, “Idols of Misdirection” was excellent and seemed to go with one of the songs on his new album called “Could You Ever Look at Me.”  Bebo keeps talking, even though I’m keenly aware that he is going to be five minutes late calling his next interviewer.

Amy: One last question—how can we be praying for Bebo Norman?

Bebo: A lot of what I was writing about in that blog post (“Idols of Misdirection”) is probably what I would ask people to pray for me right now, and that is being thankful for the source of the good things in my life.  I’m in a season of struggling with that.  There’s a certain level of distance I feel right now from God, which is odd because I talk about my faith a lot.  It’s not that I doubt the truth of the Gospel because I see it fulfilled as truth every single day.  I feel like it’s robbing me of the beauty of every day.

To catch up with Bebo Norman, visit him online at BeboNorman.com, follow him on Twitter (@bebonorman), and read his blog, which he updates sometimes.

Take 5 with Brian McLaren

28 Jun

Because artists, authors, and other exciting individuals don’t always have time for interviews, Backseat Writer is introducing a new feature called “Take 5”. This concept is simple—we e-mail five questions to a band, artist, author, astronaut, whoever, which should only take about five minutes to answer. It’s a great way to keep tabs on some of our favorite folks, have a little fun, and still provide you with something interesting to read. Read on for BSW’s first “Take 5” with one of my favorite authors and speakers, Brian McLaren.

Brian McLaren head shot By Amy Sondova Being discontent with the way people do church, Brian McLaren starting looking for a new kind of Christianity and invited others a long for the journey. Now one of the front men for the Emergent Church movement, McLaren’s is a sought-after speaker, activist, and writer whose best-selling books include A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and Everything Must Change. Still accessible to his ever-growing audience, McLaren graciously agreed to “Take 5” with us.

Backseat Writer: Because you’re a popular author, speaker, and one of the main faces of the Emergent Church, people seem to put a lot of labels on you, which aren’t necessarily true. What are a few of the biggest misconceptions about what you believe?

Brian McLaren: I guess the biggest one isn’t actually about me, but it’s about my loyal critics, and the misconception is that they accurately represent what I believe. They correctly understand that I differ from them in some ways, which is a start. But then they tend to put me in a category they think they understand –from liberal to New Age to Son of Satan to whatever–and that generally doesn’t fit. One way to explain the disconnect is to say that they assume I’m giving different answers to the questions that formed them, when actually I and a lot of my friends are being formed by different questions entirely.A New Kind of Christian

Likewise, being one of the front men in the Emergent Movement, you receive a lot of criticism, even from “friends,” something which we all deal with on a human level. How do you deal with the criticism?

This is one of the advantages of being 52—along with many others, like not having to comb my hair! It would have been psychologically and spiritually devastating to have to deal with some of this stuff back when I was 25 or 35. When you get older, you’ve been around the block enough times that you realize that your critics are just human beings like you, doing the best they can. (Read also Brian’s “A Friendly Note to My Critics“)

As well, I hope that after many years of seeking to follow Jesus, my sense of identity is at least a little bit formed in Christ rather than in public opinion. One of the things that has helped me the most in dealing with critics is a prayer by a Serbian Orthodox bishop called “a prayer for enemies.” It’s at my website if people want to use it (Prayer/Liturgical Resources–BrianMcLaren.net). That prayer has helped me in ways I can’t begin to explain. Most of all, though, I’ve been helped by the example and teaching of Jesus. Sincerely.

I know a lot of people interested in the Emergent Church, but have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s like you guys are speaking a completely different language. What’s up with all the fancy words and terms, Brian?

It is confusing. I don’t think I understand it. But the bottom line is this: a lot of us feel we can’t survive—in good faith, in good conscience—maintaining a form of Christianity that feels dishonest, uncompassionate, and disconnected from the real world and the message of the Bible as we are coming to understand it. We’re simply trying to find ways to be faithful when it feels like conventional Christianity isn’t working for us. We’re more committed than ever to Jesus, the good news of the kingdom of God, the great commandments, and so on. So maybe the problem is that we’re just doing what Christians have always done—learning to love God and our neighbor, and there really isn’t anything to talk about.

Your words and ministry will live a long time after you’re gone. But, really, how do you want to be remembered?

Wow, that makes me feel 92 instead of 52! I hope people remember me as a guy who was learning to love God and others, and also who loved God’s beautiful creation, and who had enough courage to speak the truth as he saw it and enough humility to do so with gentleness and respect.

When you’re not being deeply intellectual, what do you do to let off some steam (ie, play Guitar Hero, shoot your wife with a water gun)?

I’m a major fan of stupid movies. I just saw Get Smart, for example, and I love Princess Bride, Dumb and Dumber, Tommy Boy, Mr. Deeds and my all-time favorite is UHF with Weird Al Yankovitch. I also enjoy making my wife laugh. On a more serious note, I’m a major outdoors person, so I love wildlife, hiking, camping, fishing, noticing birds, turtles and other creatures. I guess if I hadn’t become whatever it is I’ve become, I would have been a “Croc Hunter” wannabe—tossing cobras, hanging out with orangutans, swimming with sea lions, that sort of thing.

For more information on Brian McLaren, visit him online at brianmclaren.net and buy all his books because they’re fantastic!

Print copy of interview.

Leeland: Raising Up a Worship Generation

8 Apr

By Amy Sondova w/ Melissa Brown A best-selling album, a GRAMMY nod and several Dove Award nominations, a new marriage, and the Feb. 26 release of sophomore album, Opposite Way—that’s a lifetime of accomplishments for 19 year-old Leeland Mooring, frontman of the band, Leeland. The band’s first album, Sound of Melodies, was heralded by audiences and commanded attention and respect from the pillars of the Christian music industry, including Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, and Chris Tomlin.

In addition to the band’s namesake, the band is comprised of Leeland’s big brother, Jack Mooring (keys/vocals), the Mooring boys’ cousin Jake Holtz (bass), and friends Mike Smith (drums) and Mike Campbell (guitars). In hot demand, the band has been touring nearly non-stop for the past two years, which has given them a lot of time to craft an album that continues the excellence that excited audiences in Sound of Melodies.

Just as Opposite Ways first cut was just being released to the media, Melissa Brown and I had a chance to sit down and chat with the members of Leeland, who despite being 19-24, were intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally mature. Perched on a seat neat to me was Leeland, who rolled up my business card and stuck it in his sock during the interview. Despite his apparent disdain for paper objects, he was surprisingly attentive and well-spoken as were the other band members. Next to Leeland sat Mike C., then Jake, followed by Mike S., Jack, and finally Mel.

Jack took special care to make sure that questions were answered accurately and appropriately and helped moderate discussion. Jake, one of the youngest members, was amazing and forthright, often making the everyone laugh (especially Leeland) while the duo of Mike’s were less talkative, yet insightful. Passionate about raising up a generation of worshippers, Leeland the band was eager to talk and even nicely shared the microphone.

START TRANSMISSION

Amy: I’ll start with Leeland. Everyone loves the fact that you’re 19. Youth workers love the fact that you’re young. What kind of response have you had from youth workers about ministering to teenagers?

Leeland: What’s really cool is when we get to minister at church. We sing for youth groups and the youth pastors are really encouraged. First of all, we see tons of kids that are my age, and I’ve had tons of kids come up to me and say, ‘How do I get that passion for God that you guys have? I look up to you guys and your walk with God.’ It’s humbling and encouraging at the same time for us.

As far as youth workers, we’ve got to really inspire youth workers to nurture the gifts in their own youth groups. We’re trying to encourage youth with their dreams. There might be a kid that loves to draw, loves art, writes poetry, love music, or loves speaking—we love to encourage that and see that develop.

Amy: When people think of “worship”, they think of music. Worship can encompass so much more. What are other ways you guys are encouraging worship in other ways, besides music, even though you are obviously involved within the music genre?

Jack: I think that goes back to our main topic of what we’re taking about, which is raising up a generation of worshipers. Does that mean raising up a generation of songwriters or singers? No. It means maybe quite the opposite. Raising up a generation of worshipers means going past songs and past music into living a lifestyle that glorifies God.

Yes, music is amazing and a great way to worship God, but there are so many other ways to worship Him aside from art. Our goal is to help people to find ways to dedicate their whole lives to God and worship in every aspect of their lives. I definitely think there are lots of ways we’ve missed as a Church to worship God.

Matt S.: For us, it’s more of a lifestyle. We try to be the same on the stage, on the bus, or wherever. Worship is definitely living a lifestyle of prayer and being in a relationship with God. I think if you really want to define worship it’s a lifestyle that is trying to be pleasing to God.

Leeland: Worship is anything that’s glorifying God whether that’s praying or hanging out or cleaning up the church after worship or cleaning the toilet—anything that’s glorifying God in your life or in a song is worship. It literally is your whole life devoted to God.

Amy: Leeland here is the youngest in the band and he’s kind of the “leader of the band”. How do you older guys deal with that?

Mike C: We have a good open line of communication and Leeland’s always been good about pushing everything back towards the band and towards us and making it a group thing. We were the ones that made him take the band name ‘Leeland’. He didn’t want it in the beginning, we were just in our youth group back home playing worship and then we started playing other places as ‘The Leeland Mooring Band’.

Amy: So you guys all went to youth group together?

Jake: Jack and Leeland’s parents started a church about five years ago and yeah, so we started in the church. We met Mike at IHOP and Matt went to a church across the street and Jack was the youth pastor. That’s how it started—in youth band.

Jack: Leeland I were brothers and our parents actually started the church, and maybe the people didn’t know that… (Everyone chuckles at him.)

Amy: You were brothers? What are you now?

Jack: Actually you know we did an official separation for purposes of the band. We didn’t want things to get personal, you know? So, yeah, I was actually youth pastor at the time and Leeland started writing all these songs—he was 12 years old! It was a really cool time in our lives because I would get up and preach and Jake would play bass and Leeland would get up and lead worship. It all came about because of our youth ministry. Without our youth ministry, we wouldn’t be here.

Amy: OK, let’s head back towards youth ministry. There are a lot of kids who are pretty talented and write songs. Obviously, Leeland over here is a musical genius, but how do you encourage kids in their craft without crushing their dreams?

Leeland: In the beginning, the songs may not be that great. But one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that when someone is really, really close to the Lord and when they’re really been seeking God and have an innocent relationship with the Lord, they could be singing ‘Kumbaya’ and the presence of God will come. I’ve been around some places where the person’s voice wasn’t that amazing or they weren’t great with the instrument, but you could just tell that they were so close to the Lord and loved God so much that when they were playing I felt the Lord and felt him stronger than professional musicians.

Keep encouraging kids to write songs and keep writing and to seek after God as they’re writing. That’s the difference between a great song writer and a great worship leader. A great worship leader is so in tune with the Lord that they could be up there singing anything and the presence of God will come.

Amy: A lot of people look up to you guys as a band—both youth and youth workers because the music’s great and the lyrics are real. What do you think is a critical issue in youth workers? What do youth workers need to know?

Jack: I actually worked with youth before I was in the band. One thing I can say as a word of encouragement is to make time to spend with God and for your self. Youth workers are very selfless people, so they don’t have time for themselves.

Leeland: You are selfless and you give and give and give so much you come to the point where you’re tired. But if you devote yourself to the Lord, you are able to keep your dreams alive for your group and your city. A lot of youth workers start out with great dreams, but they lay down their dreams because they’re tired because they don’t seek the Lord and the presence of God.

Youth workers need to say, ‘God, let your presence fill out youth group.’ We can have Playstations and games all day long, and these worldly things don’t edify. They attract people, but they don’t edify. The presence of God is what our churches need to be asking for, that’s when people are changed.

Jack: Games and all those really cool fun lights attracts the kids, but once they’re there, what happens? Where’s the beef? Where’s the meat? Are they going to take something more home than meeting their friends and beating Guitar Hero? I think that’s where the youth workers need to get on their faces before God.

Amy: Youth workers can be guilty of neglecting their families because they think that ministry is the highest calling, but also family is ministry. How do you guys keep the romance alive with your wives?

Jack: Literally, your family is your ministry. It’s amazing that we’re going to minister to all these people, but 20 years from now if our kids aren’t serving God and our wives have been neglected, I don’t really see the point. When we stand before the Lord, he’s going to ask us how we treated our families, how you treat your children and your wife is going to affect many generations to come.

Amy: So, Jack, honestly, what’s it like being Michael W. Smith’s son-in-law?

Jack: They’re an amazing family. He has a reputation of integrity, and he’s put his family first. You can just tell when you spend time with them. He’s been nice to me and hasn’t given me a hard time.

Amy: We’ve been talking about the Michael W. Smith fan cruise. I was like, “It’s going to be 50 year-old ladies and Leeland”. So, really, what was it like?

Jake: It was like a worship conference to me. It was awesome. It wasn’t all 50 year-old peple. There were younger people there and some people brought their kids. We went to Alaska and spent 7-8 days there. It was free food the entire time. Ice cream in the middle of the night. Milk and cookies.

Jack: And we saw whales and that was amazing.

(Random incoherent mumblings from which I could glean, “We drove the ship into an iceberg.” Mel asks, “Did anyone abandon ship?” All of a sudden Leeland grabs the mic to make this announcement.)

Leeland: The blue whale is the biggest thing in the entire world. Its tongue weighs as much an elephant. It weighs 200 tons and its heart is as big as a car. Its tail is as wide as a small aircraft and you could swim in its largest blood vessel.

Amy: Ooo-kay. On that note, anything that you want to say in closing?

Leeland: Keep dreaming for your city and know that God is with you and be encouraged. God is doing something incredible in the hearts of youth today. Keep encouraging your kids to devote their lives to God.

END TRANSMISSION

For more information on Leeland and their current tour “The Altar and the Door” with Casting Crowns, visit the band’s website (LINK: http://www.leelandonline.com). Also remember to check out their latest album, Opposite Way, which released February 26.

Print copy of interview.

Tom Cruise Scientology Video

20 Jan

A few weeks ago Tom Cruise did a very bizarre interview about his beliefs on scientology. While I’m not a proponent of scientology, I can see how what Christians say could also be construed as “crazy”. I mean, we do believe God came to earth in the person of Jesus, hung out with the dregs of society, was killed, rose again, went to where He came from, and is coming back again. The bottom line–I am a Christian and affirm the Apostles Creed, but I wonder if we seem as nuts as Tom Cruise. Probably.

Although, Cruise seems a bit deranged in the clip below (and watch the spoof because it’s even better). I mean, his statements seem to be rambling statements that have no context. Then again, have you watched “The 700 Club” lately? My point is this–any views seem crazy to outsiders; however, we need to explain our beliefs to people in ways they can understand. Oh, and if someone interviews you, don’t just start randomly laughing. It’s creepy.

It’s my hope that Christians really will be known by our love, not by the ridiculous statements issues by our “leaders”.

OK, as promised, here’s the Tom Cruise scientology video. It’s a little under 10 minutes, and it’s pretty boring. Someone added some fun music and a voice over to this clip.

Here’s a spoof some guy made, which is a lot more interesting that Tom Cruise’s actual interview…

Harry Potter and the Big If

2 Jan

According to an interview with the Daily MailHarry Potter series author J.K. Rowling says she might write another book in the series.  This book, however, would not focus on Harry Potter as the main character.   The article quotes her as saying, “”If – and it’s a big if – I ever write an eighth book, I doubt that Harry would be the central character. I feel I’ve already told his story.”  Yeah, that sure sounds like a promising hint.

Rowling is now working on an adult novel and a “political fairy tale” as well as doing interviews that mess with the minds of Harry Potter fans everywhere.  The least she could do is bring Fred Weasley back from the dead.  That is, if you believe he’s dead, which I don’t.  I’m just saying.

But I digress–as a writer I understand finishing a project and moving on.  However, if it’s a really enjoyable project and one that could be potentially profitable, why not spend some more time exploring your characters?  Plus, didn’t she promise that she would put together an encyclopedia of the wizarding world?

The Return of Extroverted Amy

13 Apr


Tonight I went to a Brandon Heath concert. You can read all the groovy details about it on YMX: ALL ACCESS. I was pretty proud of myself because I didn’t really want to go. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been worrying about this and that. I kind of just wanted to chill at home and watch that silly ABC special about “Ugly Betty”.

Then I thought to myself, “Self, that is ridiculous! You don’t even want to watch ‘Ugly Betty’ reruns, much less a whole special about the show.” I realized that I just didn’t feel like making an effort to go out to a public place, be around people, and be somewhat vulnerable. I wondered who this person was that I had become and how I could make her go away. What happened to the vivacious Amy that wouldn’t have missed a chance to see a singer/songwriter she liked in concert? She must have gotten trampled in life’s fray.

I decided I wouldn’t give into anxiety, depression, fear, or whatever the heck was/is going on–so I dolled myself up, hopped in Sarah’s car, and off we went. Truth be told, there were only about 30 college kids at the concert so it was nice. We all know how much I detest crowds. Plus, while I was waiting to introduce myself to Brandon Heath (I interviewed him, of course I was gonna say “Hi!”), I started chatting with some adorable college girls. Look at that, I even made new friends. I had a nice time talking with Brandon as well. He’s a pretty decent fellow and sort of looked like a dork when he was trying to bend the fingers on his one hand to make “YMX”. But, hey, I appreciate the dorkier things in life.

When we were driving back home, I had horrible cramps in my side again. Convinced we were headed to the hospital, I panicked. Sarah told me to calm down, and that’s when I farted–long and loud. And it didn’t happen just once, but several times on our hour drive home. Fortunately, Sarah didn’t seem to notice all the fumes flowing from my body. As embarassing as this is to admit, lately I’ve had a bit of struggle with crampy gas pains, a very painful struggle. Naturally, I’ve assumed the worst and expect to get some random body part removed any day. I must be a trip to live with! No wonder I’m still single.

Anyway, after reflecting on my trip and looking at the adorable pic Sarah took of Brandon and me (Awwww! It’s so cute! I was gonna make you go to YMX: ALL ACCESS to see it but I decided to post it here, too!), I’m glad I ventured out into the scary, mean world and took a chance. When I interviewed Brandon, he said that he’s a “recovering introvert”. I sort of feel like I’m a “recovering extrovert who is a recovering introvert who is a recovering extrovert who is a recovering introvert.” What that means is that I was extroverted when I was young, withdrew when I was in middle school, started to recover in high school and returned to all my extroverted glory in college, and somehow retreated a bit into introversion again. I’m truly an extrovert at heart with introverted moodiness. But tonight, I let extrovert Amy have the floor and I’m glad I did. She gets repressed way too much!

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