Thursday, October 30, 2008

The 19th Thing I Love.

#19 - Hot Beverages.

When it's cold or rainy outside, one of the most perfect things in the world is to snuggle up underneath a blanket with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. When you've had a bad day, a White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks may be just the ticket to cheer you up. Or when you've had a great day and need a small celebration, it might be time for a Caramel Latte from Panera. Regardless of the circumstances, there is something incredibly comforting and relaxing about holding a steaming mug of something yummy in your hands, pulling your feet up into whatever chair you've sunk into, and breathing in the aroma. The only thing that can make this little scenario better is a roaring fire in the fireplace. Those of us that aren't lucky enough to have a fireplace, though, can still enjoy the rest of the aspects with just two minutes in the microwave and a tea bag or packet of hot chocolate mix. The best things in life may be free, but this great thing costs less than $4 (considerably less if you go the homemade route instead of Starbucks or Panera). That's not too bad for a moment of tranquility. Plus, it comes with sugar and caffeine!!!

P.S. A little hot chocolate tip for you. Always make it with milk. If you don't have milk, use half water and half creamer! Very tasty. And you should probably add a little more hot chocolate mix than the package suggests. Two tablespoons? Try two HEAPING tablespoons! :-) Add marshmallows or whipped cream (from the spray can, of course) and enjoy!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The 20th Thing I Love.

#20 - Live Music.

There is not much in the world like watching an amazing musician and performer. To see anyone doing what they were created to do is a wonderful experience. But there is something specifically about live music that has always moved me.

I got to go to the symphony for free last Thursday night. I love classical music, and hearing it live always makes my soul feel as if it could float out of the building. As the strings played their sweet notes over the intricacies of dozens of instruments, I lost myself to a world of imagination. In moments like this, I see pictures and scenes flash before my closed eyes. I let emotion wash over me. I try to feel what the composer was feeling when he wrote those notes so many years and so many worlds ago. It takes me back in time. It ushers peace and contemplation into my soul. It gives me a time in my life where I can relax and simply enjoy the gifts that God has given to those around me.

There are certain kinds of music that effect me profoundly when I hear them live, even though I may not ever listen to CDs of that style. There is just something about the live performance that changes things. Next I really want to see someone who can capture all the beauty of the world of jazz as I sit at a corner table in some intimate little hole in the wall.

Some other shows that I've thoroughly enjoyed include (but are definitely not limited to): Blindside, Scratch Track, Slow Runner, Nathan Angelo, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Bleach, Switchfoot, Skillet, Jennifer Knapp, P.O.D., Jim Brickman, Fundamental Elements, and Half Price Hero. If any of them are touring near you, go see them!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The 21st Thing I Love.

#21 - The Sky.

I don't even know where to begin. I have been obsessed with the sky for as long as I can remember. When I used to write songs, almost every single one of them had some sort of sky reference in it. I cannot watch a sunset or sunrise without having an emotional reaction to it. A huge part of that is the fact that the vastness and beauty of the sky always reminds me of our Creator, and makes me thankful for the beauty he has given us. The Bible says that the "heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1). God has given me so many lessons in the skies, speaking clearly to my heart in front of the entire world.

The ever-changing beauty of the sky constantly amazes me. Many times I have almost run my car off the road trying to take a picture in order to capture its grandeur. Each moment holds something different than the one before, and different than any other moment in history. I think the sky is the reason I love the ocean, the mountains, and many of my other favorite places in nature. When the sky reaches down to touch the earth, whether over a vast ocean in South Africa or atop majestic mountains rolling over the countryside of China, the people who see it are moved. We are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Take the time to notice some of our beautiful sunsets this fall. The last week or so has been full of amazing ones.

The 22nd Thing I Love.

#22 - I love John Piper.

No really. I mean, I wish the man had unmarried sons so that I could have him as a father-in-law! Seriously, though, I love his depth of insight, his perspective, and his heart. He finds a way to bring glory to God in every aspect of life, and his theological insights are dumbfounding. If you've never read any of his books or blogs, you definitely should. They are slow reads because each sentence basically knocks you over with its theological implications, but it's well worth it.

You can get all of his sermons and a lot of his writings for free at

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The 23rd Thing I Love.

#23 - I love football.

While this has not always been a true statement, it has been profoundly true the last 5 years or so. It all started when I began cheering for UT because of a classmate who played on the team. After being a part of Neyland Stadium at capacity (over 107,000 people), I was simply hooked.

I attended a football chapel as part of Love United Gospel Choir and was deeply impressed by the heart felt prayer of a man named Gibril Wilson. Then he went to play for the NY Giants, and my true obsession was born.

The hard hitting, the intricate rules, the players that stand out as examples to young men everywhere, and the Manning brother commercials are just a few of the things I LOVE about football. I don't remember what Sunday afternoons in the fall were like before football. Thankfully, I don't have to.

GO GIANTS!!! 3-0, baby!!!