Tag Archives: leeland

Amy’s Favorite Things (Take that, Oprah!)

13 Dec

By Amy Sondova Every year, Oprah Winfrey features a few of her favorite things on her daytime talk show (“Oprah’s Favorite Things“) and then adorns the audience with each and every one of her favorite things.  Well, I’m not Oprah, and therefore, cannot give all Backseat Writer’s readers samples of everything that I adore.  But I can tell you where to get ‘em.   Without further adieu, I bring you “Amy’s Favorite Things,” which I hope will help you as you finish shopping foryour favorite people this holiday season (and beyond.   These are timeless suggestions).

Altered Art Charm from TickleMePinkBoutique on Etsy.com

Altered Art Charm from TickleMePinkBoutique on Etsy.com

*Etsy.com—Have you visited this site?  It’s a entire craft show right on your computer screen with everything from Scrabble tile pendants to handcrafted shoes!  There are a plethora of cool things for guys and gals alike.  Don’t believe me, guys?  Check out some of the screen printed messenger bags and t-shirts.  There’s something for everyone, and unique is the bottom line.

*Music—Every year almost everyone on my Christmas list can expect to get a CD or two.  This year there are a few artists who are hot on my list—debut artist Josh Wilson and music veteran Bebo Norman.  Besides being two of the nicest and most open guys I’ve ever interviewed, they’re also great singer/songwriters who released albums this year.  Bebo Norman’s self-titled release, Josh Wilson’s Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup, and Jon Foreman’s Limbs and Branches are must-haves!  But perhaps you’re looking for something a little rockier, then look no further than Seabird’s ‘Til We See the Shore or This Beautiful Republic’s sophomore album, Perceptions.   If you want to support indie artists, then get lost in the vocals of Tara Leigh Cobble’s Playing Favorites or Justin McRoberts’ latest project, Deconstruction.  And here are a few more recommendations: Narrow Stairs – Death Cab For Cutie; What If We – Brandon Heath; The Nashville EP and the Bee Sides – Relient K;  Opposite Way – Leeland;  With Arrows, With Poise – The Myriad;  anything by Caedmon’s Call, Fernando Ortega, Phil Keaggy.

Limbs and Branches - Jon Foreman

Limbs and Branches - Jon Foreman

*Sock Monkeys & socks—Is it just me or are you always running out of socks, too?  Whether getting lost in the wash, stolen by a shih tzu who shall remain nameless (Maddy!), or developing ginormous holes, pairs of socks seem to lose their mate after a month or two.  Therefore, I wear a lot of mismatched socks–argyle, plaid, and all patterns funky are worn together and I become a candidate for “What Not to Wear”.  Besides becoming a fashion mishap, there are are only things to do with those single socks.  You could make sock

monkeys, of course! You don’t even have to limit yourself to monkeys, there are patterns for all kinds of creatures online (sock monster, sock owl).  Then you can sell your creations at etsy.com.  Or you could just buy a conventional sock monkey at sockmonkey.com.

*Digital Cameras—The first time I got my hands on a digital camera, I took pictures of everything in sight, and I haven’t stopped.  My first pictures weren’t that great; then again, my camera wasn’t that great.  Yet I treasure the images of my grandmother’s last Christmas with our family.  Buy yourself a camera to capture the moments that truly matter, and then buy one for someone else.  Check around for the best prices and give yourself a gift that goes far beyond an electronic device.  I highly recommend Canon cameras, but if you want to go a little cheaper, Olympus makes great cameras as well.

*Anything handcrafted by you—Maybe you’re not into making sock monkeys, but there are tons of other projects in which to immerse yourself.  Try your hand at crocheting or knitting (you can even use a knitting loom like the Knifty Knitter) and make everyone scarves, hats, and SOCKS!  (See what a valuable gift socks can be?)  You could paint a thoughtful picture or make a collage.  If you’re not crafty, melt chocolate wafers and dip some pretzels; chocolate-covered pretzels make great gifts!  If all else fails, just make your dad an ashtray like you did in kindergarten—he’ll still think it’s cute (hopefully!)

Psych - Season 2

Psych - Season 2

*Amazon.com—Free shipping on orders over $25 and books, music, and DVD’s galore.  Every year Amazon is adding to its inventory.  I check back every day to see what’s on sale so I can nab Psych Seasons 1 & 2, Bones Seasons 1-3, books like The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, the chick-lit novels of my fave fictionista, Christa Banister and those aforementioned CD’s at discounted prices.

*Ebay.com—Whatever you can’t find on Amazon.com, you can find on Ebay.  There are literally millions of treasures on this site from low, low prices on video games to truly bizarre items like vintage hand towels.  But whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find it on Ebay.  You can also find a bunch of stuff you weren’t looking for, too.

*Michael’s, A.C. Moore, Joann’s—Craft stores are slashing their prices, and signing up for their e-mail newsletters allows customers to get even more coupons (especially if you don’t get them in your local newspaper).  Remember that camera I told you to buy?  You can get beautiful frames for those pics on sale at any of these stores for 40-50% off during the holiday season.  Plus, custom framing is 60% off (I say buy a frame and do-it-yourself!)  Not only that, but you can find deals on Christmas décor, craft kits for the kids, and nice gifts like candle holders and scented candles for your co-workers.  Even if you aren’t crafty, craft stores are a great place to shop for gifts.

Even though Black Friday has come and gone, you can still save money and give great presents to your loved ones…and those people you don’t really like that you still have to buy for.  We know Christmas isn’t all about the presents, but if you’re like me, you sure do like to get them (hey, I’m being honest here).  Plus, great presents show cleverness and creativity that has little to do with price and everything to do with thoughtfulness.  Our mere trinkets can never compare to the gift of God’s Son wrapped in humanity, so as we give to one another let us remember the greatest gift that mankind was ever given.

Click here to see all my my favorite things!

Slow Fade

23 May

Casting Crowns just released a music video for “Slow Fade” one of their songs off their latest album The Altar and the Door.  I previously blogged about this song, but I’m gonna repost part of that entry after the video.  Below is the dramatic “Slow Fade” video…

From Jan. 8, 2008’s entry, “It’s a Slow Fade When You Give Yourself Away“…

At the beginning of November, I had the pleasure of attending Casting Crowns current tour, The Altar and the Door (based on their latest album by the same title). The tour also includes Leeland and John Waller. I had listened to the new album a few times before I saw the concert, but not enough to have truly melded into the music. It’s when lead singer Mark Hall began to sing “Slow Fade” that tears started to well up in my eyes. As the song continued, the lyrics rang so true to my life, that I was a sloppy mess by the end of the song.

Ever since I first experienced the song that night, I’ve realized how sin in our lives can take us on that slow fade into unbelief. How each and every little compromise we make in our faith is one step closer to collapse. Fortunately, we have a merciful and loving God who is always faithful to welcome us back into the arms of grace. However, what about those who suffer along the way due to our actions, and what if we fade so far we never choose to come back?

In relationships with both of my parents, I can see their slow fade into something else and how that’s truly damaged the family unit we once had. Of course, now my parents are divorced and with other partners, which leads into complicated family dynamics. Yet it’s a slow fade when a daddy uses the internet to chat, ends up chatting with women, bears his soul to someone other than his wife, talks to that woman on the phone, meets her in person, has a romantic relationship with her, leaves his family, and gets a divorce. Each and every step along the way adds to the slow fade.

I love that Mark Hall has his daughter sing the last stanza of this song on the album (which by the way, if you don’t have it, you should pick it up). It serves as a reminder to Daddies (and Mommies) everywhere that a compromise is not just about you, but it’s about your kids, too. Children don’t choose to be “children of divorce”–it’s just thrust upon them. Kids don’t have a say when a new step dad comes into the family; they have to accept it. There is so much hurt, pain, abandonment before the divorce, during the divorce, and after the divorce that children (not just minors–any children, even adult children) must carry around. The little girl’s singing has a haunting effect serving as a reminder how choices affect others, especially the ones we love. Yet the song rips out the very heart of someone who can see the anguishing slow fade of a parent, friend, mentor, and a loved one.

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.

Slow Fade When You Give Yourself Away

8 Jan

Photo Credit: Dan Phillips

At the beginning of November, I had the pleasure of attending Casting Crowns current tour, The Altar and the Door (based on their latest album by the same title). The tour also includes Leeland and John Waller. I had listened to the new album a few times before I saw the concert, but not enough to have truly melded into the music. It’s when lead singer Mark Hall began to sing “Slow Fade” that tears started to well up in my eyes. As the song continued, the lyrics rang so true to my life, that I was a sloppy mess by the end of the song.

Ever since I first experienced the song that night, I’ve realized how sin in our lives can take us on that slow fade into unbelief. How each and every little compromise we make in our faith is one step closer to collapse. Fortunately, we have a merciful and loving God who is always faithful to welcome us back into the arms of grace. However, what about those who suffer along the way due to our actions, and what if we fade so far we never choose to come back?

In relationships with both of my parents, I can see their slow fade into something else and how that’s truly damaged the family unit we once had. Of course, now my parents are divorced and with other partners, which leads into complicated family dynamics. Yet it’s a slow fade when a daddy uses the internet to chat, ends up chatting with women, bears his soul to someone other than his wife, talks to that woman on the phone, meets her in person, has a romantic relationship with her, leaves his family, and gets a divorce. Each and every step along the way adds to the slow fade.

I love that Mark Hall has his daughter sing the last stanza of this song on the album (which by the way, if you don’t have it, you should pick it up). It serves as a reminder to Daddies (and Mommies) everywhere that a compromise is not just about you, but it’s about your kids, too. Children don’t choose to be “children of divorce”–it’s just thrust upon them. Kids don’t have a say when a new step dad comes into the family; they have to accept it. There is so much hurt, pain, abandonment before the divorce, during the divorce, and after the divorce that children (not just minors–any children, even adult children) must carry around. The little girl’s singing has a haunting effect serving as a reminder how choices affect others, especially the ones we love. Yet the song rips out the very heart of someone who can see the anguishing slow fade of a parent, friend, mentor, and a loved one.

The song has apparently struck a chord with a lot of people. On YouTube, plenty of people have made their own music videos for the song. Here’s one of the best I found–it was used as a call to worship for a church. I personally like the pirated iStock photo. I also posted the song lyrics below…

“Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

My Top Discoveries of 2007

30 Dec


Psych“–It’s an awesome T.V. show on USA Network starring James Roday as “psychic” detective Shawn Spencer, who isn’t really psychic, but pretends that he is. It’s great and the new season starts on Jan. 11.

Pushing Daisies“–I love this show so much that I blogged about one of its actresses, Kristin Chenoweth  (read “Snooked on Pushing Daisies” here).

LOTS OF MUSIC–I’ve been introduced to many a good musicians and bands in 2007 through my work with YMX, but here are some of my new favorites.


Brandon Heath–great singer/songwriter with a great heart for God and worship.

Grey Holiday–hilarious and deep; great combo.

David Klinkenberg–makes me wish I hadn’t given up so easily on violin lessons in 4th grade, yet I’d probably never be as good as this guy.  He’s amazing to see perform live.


Nickel Creek–they’re good together and Chris Thile does a great job flying solo!

Leeland–Yeah, I didn’t listen to them before 2007, but I’m glad another year didn’t go by without their music.

Hairspray: One of the cult classics I had never indulged in until its remake.  I love Nikki Blonksky.


High School Musical 2:  I don’t know about this Zac Efron kid, but Lucas Grabeel is cute!

Fred Weasley is NOT DEAD! After the final Harry Potter book was released there was some confusion.  An apparent misprint in the book says that a wall fell on him.  That’s completely inaccurate.  Fred’s alive and well–I don’t care what you say.  If you don’t believe me, read this!

Marley & Me is a great book about a man and his dog.  Plus, the New York Times best-selling author and I live in the same zip code!!!


Potter Puppet Pals is a website that makes funny Harry Potter parody videos using puppets.

Facebook–why didn’t I sign up sooner?  If I’m not your buddy, I should be.


Macs may be better, but I still can’t afford one.

And, last but certainly not least, the wonders of Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel.  There’s a show on Animal Planet all about meercats and another about apes–how cool is that?

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