Monday, February 28, 2011

New photos!

I've spent the last few days reworking the Photo page of

I decided to create photo albums so we could share more stories and photos from our adventures. I moved the photos we already had on the site into albums, and added two new albums for Break Forth and our Fireside Concert.

You can visit the newly reworked page at I'd love your feedback on the look and feel of the new albums!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review - "Captured By Grace" by Dr. David Jeremiah

I've been reading a lot lately, and I realized it's been a while since I posted an actual book review.

I love talking, singing, and reading about grace, so naturally, I was intrigued by this book's title. Dr. Jeremiah looks at the topic of grace through the stories of the apostle Paul and John Newton, author of "Amazing Grace."

Each line of the famous song becomes a touch point for discussing grace. For example, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound" demonstrates "The Captivating Presence of Grace." Detailed verse analysis from the book of Romans delves us further into the nature of grace.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I definitely got a lot out of it. However, in a few moments, there was a suggestion of something that just made me feel uncomfortable. For example, this line "Have you been excusing sin in your life by calling it another name?" goes on to say that perhaps your "unfortunate trait," "weakness," or "unproductive habit" is actually sin. Well, having known a lot of people who suffer from addictions, biochemical disorders, and other medical issues, this passage made me uneasy. Yes, sin can be a result of this things, but not the cause. Although Dr. Jeremiah doesn't quite come out and say that sin causes these issues, he comes close enough to implying it to make me feel uneasy.

I could be misinterpreting what is being said here, and I welcome the thoughts of Dr. Jeremiah's team, but I do know that, as much as I enjoyed the book, these passages would make me hesitant to recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fireside Concert!

Our welcome chalkboard, set up in the kitchen by the spread of sweets!

What a great day for singing!

For months now, we've been looking forward to our first Fireside Concert. Our living room and dining room are L-shaped, so we imagined the space as a great performance venue. We set up our SoloAmp and guitars in the corner of the L, right by the windows. We cleared the dining room table, the TV, and a few other furniture pieces, and reconfigured the sofa and chairs. We borrowed some folding chairs from the church, and set up seating for 20+ people.

At 2:00, people started to arrive. They helped themselves to hot cider, cookies, chocolates, and fresh fruit, and found a seat. Gerald and I built a set of mostly original songs, with a few of our own arrangements of classic songs. In addition to sharing our music, we also wanted to tell the stories behind the creation of the songs. We shared favourites like A Church Song Broke Me Down, and a participatory version of Wedding at Cana.

I sang several songs from "Real Big Fan" that I haven't had the chance to perform in a while, such as Do You Wanna Be My Neighbour in Gloryland and Real Big Fan. It felt so good to sing them again! Gerald also did several of his newer and lesser performed songs, like Every Church is a Small Town and Angels in the Dust. People loved hearing about the creation of his stories told through music.

The whole afternoon had a great feeling about it - relaxed, friendly, and spiritual. We'll definitely need to do it again!

We took lots of photos, and I'll let you know when I post them online.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fireside Concert This Week!!!!

Our Fireside Concert is this week! We're spending our days rehearsing, organizing how to set up the living room, and making sure we have lots of cider and cookies.

Hope you can join us! Please visit our site for more info or to contact me with any questions:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Church of Our Saviour

A few years ago, while living in Nashville, I was taking songwriting courses on when I ran across the profile for a songwriting Anglican priest with a church in Don Mills, just minutes from where my family lived. We connected online, and today, Gerald and I sang at Dennis Dolloff's church!

Church of our Saviour is a bright, cozy church hidden away in a bungalow-filled neighbourhood. The back of the sanctuary is dominated by a stunning stained glass window, that apparently was designed by a local high school student.

Stained glass at Church of Our Saviour

Dennis and his wife and music director, Lori, invited us to lead a few hymns and take the entire sermon time. Their small but robust choir helped lead the singing on our versions of "Just a Closer Walk" and "How Great Thou Art." For the musical message, we shared the story of our 2009 car accident, and focused on themes of community, healing, and love. We debuted Gerald's new song "Every Church is a Small Town" and sang a few other favourites like "Give Me Jesus".

We sat with the choir and joined in on the Communion songs. The whole service felt wonderful - such a relaxed and worshipful atmosphere!

This evening, we returned to St. John's York Mills for The Gathering. Our 6-piece band led great songs like "Moving with the Lamb" and "Your Grace is Enough." After, the whole congregation gathered for a potluck meal. Nobody cooks like church folk!

Home in time for the Grammys, and our musical day was complete!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Break Forth photos!

I've just put together a Facebook album for our Break Forth photos. You can visit it here.

Brian Doerkson's worship session at Break Forth.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

6 Ways to Follow Up from a Conference

There's nothing more inspiring than attending a conference, but it's all a waste if you can't follow-up.

Did you just spend 3 days learning, growing, and developing,
or did you just have an over-scheduled vacation you can write off as a business expense?

As I move through my post-Break-Forth days, I'm defining my best tools for the Art of the Follow-Up:

#1. Get over your cold.
Okay, this one is more specific to my experience, but conferences can be tiring, and in winter, you can be exposed to lots of germs and viruses. Take a day or two to catch up on lost sleep, exercise a little, and get back to healthy eating.

#2. Empty your pocket full of business cards.
I used to get to the end of a conference with stacks of anonymous business cards, and six months later they'd all be in the recycling box. If you chat with someone directly and take their card, take a few seconds to write a few words about the interaction on the card. You always think you'll remember the details, but after a few days of meeting people, faces and conversations get blurred.

#3. Do something with those cards.
If you actual met the card owner, take a minute to send them a quick email. Use that email to record their contact info in your computer or phone. If you just picked up the card from an exhibit booth, visit the website, bookmark it, and record any contact info on your computer or phone. Recycle the cards, or use them to wallpaper your office, whichever suites your fancy.

#4. Sort the swag.
I admit it! I love free stuff! I want every free pen, button, ruler, key chain, t-shirt, calender, book, and water bottle I can find! Needless to say, I find myself arriving home with a lot of ugly stuff. Take a little time to sort through the freebies and brochures. Recycle pamphlets you won't use. Find a good home for the useful stuff. Tell yourself that next time you'll exhibit more self-control (and then laugh at yourself...)

#5. Tidy your notes.
All that shorthand may make sense in the moment, but give it a month and it'll become hieroglyphics. Take an evening to review your notes, clarify your ideas, and organize the information. Not only will things look neater, but you'll actual have a chance to reinforce what you've learned (yes, it's Homework 101).

#6. Share your experience with others.
There's no better way to process what you've just learned than to teach it to others. Write an article, share your notes with a colleague, say a few words to your church or community group, or arrange to teach a workshop based on your experience. Taking the time to mull over and share your experience will help you remember details, sort through larger concepts, and spark new ideas. Keep a pen handy so you're ready when inspiration strikes!

I hope these ideas help you make the most of your conference experience. Feel free to share any other ides in the comment section.

Now, to get an espresso and dig into my notes...