Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting Older at Christmas

I love the Christmas season, but I really wish I could still feel the way I did when I awoke that Christmas Day to a new Nintendo (the original system). There's a magic surrounding a child during Christmas that is hard to explain. 

Third Day's song, "Christmas Like A Child," does a great job of describing this. "I want to feel Christmas, how it used to be / With all of its wonder, falling on me. This season has felt so empty, oh for quite a while / I want to feel Christmas, like a child."

I'm not saying I've lost all excitement; but it changes as you get older. If you're past the age of 15, you know that.

As you get older, you start to focus on more important things, like actually spending time with your family, and helping others, during the holidays.

I love my dad, always have, always will. But, especially as I'm about to be a dad, I find myself wanting to sit and talk with him, and not be so ready to rush off to the next thing.

Visiting grandparents should be high on everyone's priority list. (If you really want to know why you are the way you are, go sit and talk with them; and do it before it's too late).

Presents matter, but at the same time, they don't. I posted a video a few weeks ago called "Advent Conspiracy." The video reveals that Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas gifts, annually. The estimated cost to make clean water available to everyone in the world, is $10 billion.

Maybe getting older at Christmas brings you closer to reality.

Maybe it makes you think about what really matters in life: not you, but others.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Enjoy the Season; Remember What Matters

The most wonderful time of the year is here. However, please remember this often proves to be the worst time of the year for many.

Love those around you; all of them. Spend time with family and friends, on purpose.

Take time to remember what started this whole time of year, the birth of our savior. It has become commercialized to the max, which is fine. But, keep in mind why the insanity started.

Merry Christmas to all.

And to all, good night.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sarah is Pregnant

In case you're just coming across our blog, Sarah is pregnant. Baby Clore is due around May 23, 2009. Sarah is at 18 weeks. It's a very exciting time in our world...

Quite A Saturday

*The original purpose of this blog was to serve as a chronicling of Sarah's pregnancy, the arrival of our first precious creation, and to allow those that cared about such matters with a way of staying updated. Although a Pulitzer-Prize in Journalism would be highly appreciated, we fully recognize that it will not be won from posts such as the following. And we don't really care.

Yesterday was a big day. We had a feeling that may have been the case. 

It started off with paying off Baby Clore's baby-room furniture, from layaway. Now we just have to figure out how to go pick it up.

Then it was time to begin the new-car search. We had been putting this off for months, but we could no longer wait. If you currently own a Mitsubishi, Godspeed. If you don't, don't ever buy one. We were at that point where the cost of repairs had exceeded the trade-in value by (approximately) astronomical measures. 

We had done some Internet research and had a solid idea of what we were looking for.

Expecting to spend half the day with sleazy car sales-people, we were pleasantly surprised to get a good guy.

We are now the proud owners of a Honda Passport. The purchasing-process only took 5 hours. But it's cool. It was worth it.

Christmas dinner and cupcakes followed.

All-in-all, a stellar pre-Christmas Saturday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little Clore Update

There really is a Baby Clore on its way to see us. I saw it moving around today on the ultrasound screen. I could see its spine, ribs, arms, legs, head....and could barely fathom what I was watching.

Absolutely remarkable. 

Below is our latest image. That's the head on the far right, with a little belly sticking up in the middle. 

This life has begun.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't Let the Music Stop Ya

I live in Music City. I work in the industry that gives this place its name. I went to a college full of musical know-it-all's (at least we thought we did). I spent a couple of years being a jerk, thinking I knew all that was cool and hip about music. Fortunately, I was snapped out of that mindset (before spending too many years in misery).

My friend (we'll call him Jacob, not his real name) has every reason to be a musical-snob. He has a master's degree in piano performance and has worked on some pretty prominent albums. I used to see him during church service singing his heart out. No matter how "crappy/silly" I thought the "shallow" song was, he was completely and utterly into it. Then I learned he had had a near-death disease some years earlier. Then it all made sense. That was the beginning of the end of me being a self-proclaimed "music expert." 

From then on, I started to support artists and songs that before would have been worthless in my mind. I started to encourage pride in my friend's musical interests. Here's proof that I'm not kidding, and I don't even care what you think. I love Meat Loaf. Not the food (I'm a vegetarian). The singer! There's a song on Bat Out of Hell II called "It Just Won't Quit." I can't quit playing that one, and many others. He's sold 60 million albums. I have umpteen friends that would give their left foot for a tenth of that kind of sales success.

I'm getting way off point. 

Music nearly kept me from a church-home. A couple of years ago, I started looking for a new church to call my own. Whether I realized it or not, the church's musical style and content during the service was still weighing me down. I'm so excited to share that my beautiful bride and I have found a church-home, and we are so excited to be part of a much bigger family. I was reminded of just how NOT-important some aspects of church are, after reading the following two items.

My buddy (I never actually knew him) Rich Mullins, helps to bring the point home beautifully. This is from the book, An Arrow Pointing To Heaven, by James Bryan Smith (Broadman & Holman, 2000)....

"Most of us choose a church based on the quality of its service, but for Rich, the most important ingredient was not the dynamism of the leaders but the devotion of the people. Eric Hauck recalls being with Rich in a worship service held in a barn only a few days before Rich died. 'Some friends wanted to have a gathering for praising God. They encouraged everyone who had an instrument to bring it and play.' Eric recalls that because they were not professional musicians, the music sounded awful. Even those who led the singing sang out of tune.

Someone asked Eric and Rich to lead the group for the rest of the evening. Rich went up to the microphone and said, 'I love to be in the church. I love to listen to people sing and play with their hearts. In my profession we worry a lot about being in tune and sounding good. But this music is the music that is the most pleasing to God because it is so real, and it comes from the hearts of the children of God.'

Eric concludes, 'As he said this, he got choked up. It was the last time I saw Rich cry'."

And, to seal the deal in (at least) my own heart, here's a quote from C.S. Lewis.

"When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my room and reading theology, and I wouldn't go to churches and Gospel Halls;...I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nonetheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit."

The church can not be perfect. The church is us.

Don't let the music stop ya. 

Find your home. I promise it's out there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lessons from FDR

I am no economic expert, but I do understand the importance of knowing my history. And, right now is a time to pay close attention to the actions of one of this country's greatest presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt - FDR.

I wonder what the man (FDR) who made the following statement during his second fireside chat, explaining his "New Deal," would have to say about our current government bailouts of non-government companies.

"It is rather a partnership - a partnership between government and farming, a partnership between government and industry, and a partnership between government and transportation. Not a partnership in profits, because the profits will still go to the private citizen, but rather a partnership in planning, and a partnership to see that the plans are carried out."

And speaking of those famous fireside chats, here's how a common U.S. citizen thought of his president as a result of those famous radio-meetings. 

"I never saw him - 
But I knew him. Can you have forgotten
How, with his voice, he came into our house,
The President of these United States,
Calling us friends..."

-Carl Carmer, dated April 14, 1945 (from the book, The People And The President, Beacon Press, 2002)

Oh, to again feel such a connection.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Goodnight, My Angel

Billy Joel wrote a song for his daughter Alexa that is on his 1993 album, River of Dreams. The song is called "Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)." For years I have thought how someday I would play that song for my child. Now that the time is nearly here (about 5 months away), the song only feels more appropriate. 

Listen to the words of this gorgeous song, as you watch the illustrations from the pages of Billy's children's book, "Goodnight, My Angel - A Lullabye."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Coming of a King

If Jesus entered today's world as a human, we would think He (this wacky person that must be on drugs) was nuts; along with anyone who believed it was Him. Really. Think about it. The story of the coming King in the Bible IS nuts. To us humans, it really doesn't add up. It doesn't seem just, or even close to the entrance that should have taken place for this One.

We've had 2000 years to learn, ponder and fight about the story that changed the world. Generations have come and gone since this moment-in-time actually occured. Do you ever really think of how you would react if you were alive at that time? Think of the most unlikely location, person and way the Creator of the universe would choose to enter the world of 2008; then imagine truly believing it. You would be considered looney.

It's not hard. Just think of the times you've heard people claim to be any form of God, and what exactly did you think of them? Insane? Completely wacked? In need of a padded room?

Before the actual Jesus came to earth, people felt this same way, and plenty felt that way when He actually came - when He came in that way that still doesn't make sense. That way that could not have proved more humbling. A manger! A 14-year-old girl! Are you kidding me?!?

The story goes as such, from Matthew 1:18-25. Read it like you're reading it for the first time. Don't let the familiarity (if it is) of the story blind you from what is happening here. This story changed the course of human history, in a way that nothing else has except the death of this man we call Jesus.....

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.' (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus."

When you see and experience the grace this Man brought to earth, when you see the Love that he continues to bring, when you see the second chances He offers, when you know it in your heart that you are simply not worthy of any of it, the story makes all the sense in the world.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why was Chinese Democracy released?

I'm a huge Guns N' Roses fan. I also strongly believe that Chinese Democracy (the "band's" latest album, first new material in 17 years) should never have been released. Ever.

Appetite for Destruction (the band's major label debut, which has sold 18 million copies in the U-S) released in 1987 and the band immediately became HUGE. Between then and 1991, when Use Your Illusion I and II were released (last original material until 2008), the band could do little wrong. 

Slowly, or quickly, the wheels fell off. Before the decade was out, lead singer Axl Rose was the sole original member. 

For many years, Axl would go into hiding, reappear for a second, then be gone again. Rumors of this new album, Chinese Democracy, continued to surface and swirl.

The in-progress project became a joke.

Then it became a legend.

But the legend died.

Chinese Democracy could easily have gone down in the rock pantheon as one of the greatest albums that never even was.

Over this past summer (2008), when it started sounding like the album really was going to be released (thanks Dr. Pepper), I really started thinking about how that would ruin everything about it. This album had become huge, and few really knew anything about it. Sure, songs had leaked here and there over the years, but for the most part, no one knew about it. We knew it existed on some dark, cutting room floor, but I think we wanted it to stay there. Now I know we needed it to stay there.

The rise to superstardom that GNR experienced rarely happens. Sure, pop stars flash and seem to become big. But, 18 months later, no one cares.

Guns N' Roses is one of those cultural phenomenons that is tough to explain. Sure, we could analyze 37 reasons why it worked, but the point is, it did. The band nailed it. They rocked it out so freakin' hard that few subsequent bands, ever, will top what started on that little strip in Hollywood.

Sometimes the memory of what was is meant to not be outdone.

Chinese Democracy should have stayed home. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Made in the 80s

I was made in the 80s (born April '81). And I'm pretty sure I was born about 30 years too late (that whole "old soul" thing). Either way, I'm an MTV-baby. Proud of the association? Not necessarily. But I was born just a few months prior to Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" being the first video the network ever aired. And my, how it changed the music world. 

Suddenly the visual mattered, and lots and lots of artists didn't care for that. You know how the story from that book was ruined when someone tried to make it into a movie? Well, it's the same thing here. Some things are just better left to the ultimate place of creativity - the imagination.

Artists that had been putting their heart and soul into creating music had to worry about making the video. They had to worry about how they looked, how they danced and acted.

I'm not so old-school to think that music videos ruined anything (not at all), for some artists it exponentially expanded their reach (Michael Jackson's "Thriller," for starters). 

Either way, it did change things.

And isn't it interesting that MTV and all of the other "music" channels rarely play these videos anymore? No big point to prove here, just a fascination for how things that are so important one day are seemingly meaningless the next.

And here's one of my favorite "meaningless" videos (definitely joking; this one means a lot to me). Enjoy.

Guns N' Roses - "November Rain"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Grandma Goes Digital

Thanks to my boy Ben for pointing out this brilliant piece of work.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Shack (a book review)

It usually takes a while for me to do what everyone else is doing (i.e., bandwagons); but, I'm glad I jumped on this one. I read the book, "The Shack," over Thanksgiving break. The author is Wm. Paul Young (Published by Windblown Media). I'm not going to do what "reviewers" often do and give away the whole plot. Just think of this as one of those "there is a bandwagon rolling on this one for a reason" type of situations. 

If you think you understand who/what God is, please read this. If you think you know how to live, love and forgive, please read this. This is NOT a cheesy/corny book on Christianity. This is NOT a book that will leave you in your comfortable little understanding of who the savior of the universe is. This book will challenge you; and it will help you to love in a whole new way, and to see the world in a whole new way.

No doubt, Christmastime is here

Sarah and I just finished watching Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." As we were watching, it hit me that Christmastime is fully here. There are a few things that must happen before it can actually be Christmas. Here's the list in our world:

-Christmas tree is up at home
-Watched "Christmas Vacation"
-Watched "Elf"
-Listened to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (lots)
-Started shopping at 4:15 am on Black Friday
-About to order something online on Cyber Monday
-Watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

Here's our Christmas tree....


New Little Harvey

New Little Harvey

One Month

One Month

Two Months

Two Months

Three Months

Three Months

Four Months

Four Months

Five Months

Five Months

Six Months

Six Months

Seven Months

Seven Months