FREE Music!

In the last week or so, I’ve had several links come my way for some free music. Most of this is Christmas music, but it’s free! I thought as an early Christmas present to you, I would share the links. Did I mention the music was FREE! ūüôā

  • Amazon’s 25 Days of Free Christmas – Each day Amazon.com reveals a new Christmas MP3 for you to download. Although it is in Amazon’s MP3 format, you can download a little manager that will import the songs into iTunes or Windows Media Player.

WARNING! When I was first given this link the songs seemed harmless, but Amazon has slipped in some, ahem, “interesting” songs. Your level of comfort may differ, but I wouldn’t let kids get on here without supervision. I was a little miffed that bands like Casting Crowns and Jars of Clay were lumped into the pot with some of this “music”, but my friend Jeff Brown had this to say about it “I think it‚Äôs absolutely fantastic that in the midst of downloading free songs, the average user (and probably not a believer) is exposed to Christian music they‚Äôd likely never otherwise hear.” Great perspective, Jeff. Thank you.

  • iTunes Holiday Sampler – a GREAT collection of Christmas songs, most of them by artists you actually know! This one you, obviously, have to use iTunes for.
  • Fisher Christmas MP3’s – Until now, I had never heard (or heard of) this band before, but based on these songs I can’t wait to pick up a couple (or all) of their albums. These are MP3’s. Use, as you will, in any MP3 player.
  • David Archuleta Free Christmas Song – no link for this one, but if you take a look at the iTunes free song this week (they do one every week), it is David’s version of “Joy to the World”.
  • INO Records Free Music Sampler – Although not Christmas, there is some good Christian music here. Another one that requires iTunes.

I hope you enjoy these! Feel free to share if you have any others I may not of heard of.

As a closing question: What is your favorite Christmas song/carol/album?

A Brand New Day

This is a carry-over from http://alwayswintertime.blogspot.com. This was a “family” blog that we used to keep family up to date with what was going on with us. Occasionally, I would use it to rant. Since most of our family is on Facebook, and we keep up that way, we haven’t touched the blog in over a year. I always felt guilty about using the family blog to write my personal stuff, so I started this one just for me.

Always Wintertime

I have kept some of my previous posts, and I’m working to clean up the family updates. Otherwise, this is just a landing pad for me to purge the things running around in my head. It isn’t supposed to be profound. It will never win any awards. It’s really more for me, but you are welcome to peek in and see what’s going on.

Enjoy!

Diary of a Church Hopper – Chapter Two

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve written. We have been so busy! We have traveled as a family, I have traveled for work, Melinda worked some over the summer, and with our kids on this crazy school schedule, they have actually been in school for over a week! This summer has been full of blessing, adventure, and joy. I can honestly say that it has been a GREAT few months!

Last we wrote, we were looking for a new church. While we haven’t found “the one”, we have been blessed to see several different types of churches and hear some exceptional teaching. I’ll take just a few lines to describe a couple…

As we alluded to before, worship is a big sticking point for us when it comes to church. We aren’t die hard classicists in that we have to have a magic formula of choir, piano, and organ, but we do like a good balance. We have never been fond of the “rock ‘n roll” scene on Sunday morning that dominates so many churches these days. For example, we went to one church that had great music from a quality standpoint, but their worship experience left a lot to be desired. We just don’t like going into a dark auditorium with multi-colored lights on the stage where the focus is on a single person and participation seems optional. In other words, you feel you are at a concert to be entertained not to worship collectively. The contrast was the teaching at this church was amazing. Still we couldn’t reconcile the two.

We went to another church where they decided to eliminate the discussion altogether and didn’t have any accompaniment with their worship – just voices. While I like a good a ccapella song now and again, that was on the other side of the extreme for us.

Then we attended another church where we had one of the best worship experiences we’ve had in a long time. It was refreshing to hear something so contemporary in style, but conservative in execution. We definitely want to go back there, but we have at least one more church on the list to visit.

The great thing through this adventure is that we are being fed every time we go. All of the messages we have heard have been solid and appropriate. It has been proof that God’s Word is living and powerful. We love sitting under good teaching and learning how to live a more faithful life for our Savior.

I would like to clarify one thing – the title of these posts. I used the term “church hopper” as a semi-indictment to the process we are going through. I do not advocate church-hopping, and firmly believe that we need to establish ourselves in a local body so that we can minister and be ministered to. Our desire is to find a grace-based, God-centric group of believers that have the desire to accept us for who we are (flaws and all), and very importantly have the ability to care for Anna so that we are free to experience church in a way we haven’t been able to for a long while.

I will let Melinda write more on some of the other things that have happened this summer. We are at a great time in our lives and we love being together as a family and seeing what is around the corner as a family. As we enter into another season of school and work after our summer break we have so much to be thankful for and can’t wait to share more here!

Diary of a Church Hopper – Chapter One

I am convinced more and more that when we get to heaven we are all going to be surprised at how wrong we were/are about this thing called “church”. With so many different interpretations how could we not have messed it up? It’s frustrating and, frankly, distracting.

Recently we made the very tough decision to leave the church we were members of for almost 5 years. There wasn’t one thing that happened to make us do it, but years of various preferences, issues, and differing philosophies added up, and the timing was right, so we cut the cord. Enough said about that.

So, here we are looking for a new church. One of the things that we challenged ourselves on was to question everything. We didn’t want to assume that anything was right simply because we had always been taught that. Anything that comes up that is different, we want to carefully examine before passing judgment.

We visited our first post-exit church this past Sunday. It was different. That didn’t make anything wrong, but it was different than what we had experienced for the last 5 years. The music was louder, the people were more animated, and it was a whole lot bigger. We were quickly faced with the very thing we were trying to avoid – automatically judging because our of preconceived notions of how church is “supposed” to be done.

We had done some research online and the one thing that we wrestling with was that this church does infant baptism. They were very quick to point out that the act of baptizing the infant doesn’t mean that the child is saved. They would still be responsible later on to come to faith and trust Jesus on their own, through the teaching and influence of their parents and their church family. However, they didn’t advocate another public baptism after the profession of faith – something completely contrary to what we have always been taught. We had to make a choice – would we hide behind our current beliefs, or would we open up and explore that their might be other interpretations of Scripture that weren’t necessarily wrong?

For the most part, we enjoyed the service although it was harder to open our minds than we thought it would be. We aren’t sure if we will go back, but I will tell you this – it has nothing to do with the infant baptism. As long as they aren’t misleading the parents into thinking that the act of baptism saves the child, I can’t really argue with the reasons why they do it. Just like I can’t argue with the fact that they have drums in their worship music. It is one interpretation among many that does nothing to dilute the message that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. That is the one undeniable fact that bonds all believers together, and that is what church is – not a building, not a constitution, and certainly not a person, but the corporate group of people called by God into a relationship with their Savior.

I look forward to writing more as we make this journey. I have no idea how long it will take, but we already have several churches lined up that we plan to visit over the coming months.

Be a Part of History

Firefox is an alternative browser to Internet Explorer. The latest updates you see in IE7 are direct results of trying to compete with features that have been in Firefox. Even still, Firefox is faster, more secure, and overall easier to customize (if you are into that). I’ve used Firefox for years now and would never go back to IE.

If you want to have some fun, and help Mozilla (Firefox’s creator) to break a world record, click on the badge to the left. They are trying to break the software download record in a 24-hour period when they release Firefox 3.0.

In the meantime, you can download Firefox 2 from the link above, or if you are a little more adventurous, you can preview Firefox 3 here.

We Did It!!!!

We were way too tired last night to create a slide show, but here is a quick pic to prove we actually did it!

We will have the full story, and more pictures, up soon!

Here We Go!

Sorry for the late notice, but we wanted to let you know that you can follow us throughout the race at the Country Music Marathon website. Just click on the Live Results section, enter in our names and it will update you as we pass certain mile markers.

We woke up to rain and thunder this morning, but we are hoping it passes soon. We are bringing our camera and as long as it stops raining, we hope to have pictures up this afternoon!

Pre-race Jitters

The half marathon is 6 days away.  We got our Thomas Nelson team shirts, got some good shoes, have a sitter all lined up, and we will pick up our numbers and timing chips Thursday night.  We are excited and little nervous.  We are excited about being there and having the experience, but nervous at the 13.1 miles and the fact that we never did our long walk (10 miles).  Based on our training history, we think we will be just fine, but it will definitely challenge us (which, I guess, is the point). The goal this week is to do some moderate walking every day to stay loose and do a LOT of stretching!

Here is a link to all the course information, in case you are curious. ¬†Supposedly, the day of the race, you will be able to track our progress online and see where we are at certain mileage markers. ¬†Since we are walking those stats won’t update¬†quickly, but it may be fun to check in on us! ¬†I don’t have all the info on how that works yet, but I’ll add another post as soon as I get it. We have to be downtown around¬†5 am, and based on our starting¬†position, probably won’t even start until around¬†8 am. ¬†Assuming we finish in four hours, we will be done around noon. We plan to hang out at the Thomas Nelson tent for a little while and then go home – hopefully with completion medals in hand! ¬†If anyone around Nashville would like to cheer us on in person, there is information about all the places you can do that here. ¬†We would love to see you!

Pray for us this week, and on Saturday.  Pray that we have energy to sustain us through the course, that we would finish injury free, that we will be able to move on Sunday(!), and most importantly that we would have a whole lot of fun!

Social Networking Parts II and III

Part II – I took my social networking experiment a step further. ¬†I added an application on Facebook called Ustream.tv. ¬†It allows you to¬†stream¬†your webcam to the world so anyone can see you any time that you are broadcasting (yes, you control it). ¬†Now anyone can click on the little Facebook application and, if I’m on, can see me and what I am doing. ¬†Most of it will involve sitting and staring (I do a LOT on the computer – email, research about ministries, etc.) so it won’t be that exciting, but I am curious as to the response I’ll get. I did choose to keep the sound off. ¬†I’m not ready for the world to hear everything just yet!.

Part III – I had a meeting in Memphis yesterday at a well-known ministry to kick off a project we are working on together. ¬†I met a lady there who opened with “How are Melinda and the kids?”. ¬†I stood there a little taken aback (at first I thought she was talking to someone else and it was a major coincidence) while I scrambled to search the file folders of my brain to see if I knew her (I did grow up in Memphis). ¬†Before I could say anything, she told me that she knew I went to Memphis State around the same time she did, and mentioned a previous Memphis-based employer I had worked for. ¬†Now I was really starting to panic, thinking how did I know this woman?! ¬†I think she saw the confused look in my eyes, because she put me out of my misery and told me she had found my LinkedIn (a business networking site. ¬†There’s a link to my profile to the left) profile and had read this blog. ¬†After having a good laugh about the whole thing, I thought about my previous post.

There is a LOT of information about me, out there for anyone to see. ¬†Could that ever be used against me? ¬†I try to keep things above reproach, so I’m not concerned morally, but it’s a little disconcerting to have perfect strangers know all this info about me and use it¬†causally¬†in a conversation at our first meeting! ¬†Now, the lady I met was extremely sweet and I would never question someone like her having the information she had. ¬†But what about not so well-intentioned folk?

Again, I don’t have the answers, and I’m not ready to remove my digital footprint from the web, but maybe I can end with this challenge – have you ever Googled yourself? ¬†You should try it and see what information comes up about you! ¬†If nothing comes up, and you want to keep it that way – great! ¬†If nothing comes up and you are a little disappointed, maybe it’s time to venture out into cyberspace a little further. ¬†Start a blog or get on Facebook. ¬†The internet is here to stay, and you can either hide from it, or jump in with both feet. Just remember to have fun, and always look for the good in people and not assume the worst about their intentions.