As always, it’s been another long while since I’ve updated this blog, so at the behest of a few faithful readers I’ll try to fill you in on what’s been going on in my life over the past few months. It won’t be short, mind you (and if you’re reading this in an RSS feed reader it might get cut off; read the post here).

A day after my last post Sarah asked if I wanted to go to a beer-tasting church function. The idea was to go to Breckenridge Brewery in downtown Denver to meet up with some people from our church on one of their outings. Sounds great! Well Sarah said we needed to pick up our friend Mandy at her house, so we swung by. I hadn’t been inside yet so I invited myself in to have a look around. I was struck immediately with how clean everything was (after being told that generally Mandy is a free spirit and wastes no time in keeping things either “neat” or “tidy”). She asked if I’d like to see her backyard and the bonfire ring she had put in. Being a bonfire ring enthusiast and aficionado naturally I could not turn down the opportunity. She opened the door and a loud “Surprise!” assaulted my ears. Being caught off guard I wasn’t exactly sure who the surprise party was for. My natural instinct was to shout “Surprise!” as well, but thankfully I didn’t make a fool of myself in that way. Turns out the party was obviously for me and came a few days before my birthday. Mandy had cleaned because she wanted her place to be presentable for this gala event. I really do have a wonderful wife and circle of friends. At one point I excused myself from the party and went out thanking God for the people He put in my life. To be surrounded by a group of such caring and uplifting friends is a blessing that I can’t thank Him for enough.


A few days later (on my actual birthday) I took an early flight out to Pennsylvania to meet up with the band at Creation Festival. The day started out auspiciously enough. Dave and I got picked up by Scott (our tour manager and sound guy) early in the morning and drove to the festival. Shortly after arriving the band sound-checked, and everything went swimmingly. As it was my birthday Thiessen gave me an RC Helicopter to replace the one I had lost a week before, and like a kid in a store that sells candy as well as RC helicopters I was busting with excitement to fly it. Thanks Matt! And Scott’s wife baked me a cake. Thanks Leah! The show that night was rife with technical difficulties, but we plowed on through. The highlight for me was when Matt asked the crowd to wish me well on my 28th birthday. Having 75,000 people singing Happy Birthday to me was one experience I’ll never forget. Good times.

Sometimes things go from real good to real bad in no time fast. This day proved to be one such day. After packing up and showering at the festival, we headed off to our next destination: Cornerstone, our favorite festival. This was to be Dave’s and my 12th year there. A few hours into our trip (around 3 am) most of us were in our bunks either sleeping or preparing to go to sleep. I was of the latter crew and so felt the bus slowing down at one point to pull over rather quickly to the side of the road. A few moments later our bus driver came hurtling into the bunk area sternly demanding us to “Get off the bus NOW! Don’t grab anything! This is not a joke!” in a voice that you don’t question. Actually I partially disobeyed because I ran into the back lounge amidst general confusion to hastily put on my pants. Come hell or high water my scrawny white legs will not be seen off the bus. As I put my pants on I noticed a strange mistiness in the air. No time for shoes, I legged it out of the bus and turned around. What I saw made my jaw drop to the turnpike asphalt; huge flames were leaping from the rear of the bus in the engine area, right beneath the lounge where I had lately been foolishly concerned with my vanity. I met up with the rest of the guys about ten yards from the front of the bus.

It’s times like these that you instantly know what’s important. Everyone was screaming “Get a head count! Get a head count!” to make sure everyone was accounted for. It seemed a while, though, before anyone stopped yelling this important advice to actually check how many of us were there. We all made it. I was just thankful that the band tradition of leaving me in tight situations had been broken.

Looking at the flames and huge billows of smoke we were incredulous. We had never seen anything like this. Shortly after the head count craziness someone shouted, “It’s gonna blow! RUN!!” So run we did, and even my shoeless sprinting on a very pebbly road would have outdone any of Carl Lewis’ speedy legwork. I had a sneaking suspicion as I ran that a diesel bus would not, in fact, explode in a Hollywood-esque fashion, but better safe than sorry, eh? My prediction came to be true, so to general relief and disappointment our bus remained unexploded. After what seemed a dark and uncomfortable eternity the fire department showed up to put out the fire that was rapidly consuming our professional lives (literally not metaphorically). One image I will always have etched into my brain is that of a firefighter standing on the roof of the bus hacking away with his axe amidst huge flames licking around him and jet black smoke threatening to choke him. Hats off to firefighters around the world.


Another eternity later a school bus of sorts came to pick us up and drive us to the closest hotel. There we got a few hours of sleep after swapping jokes and reflections of the preposterousness that had just transpired. Later that morning we went to the lot where our bus had been towed to try to assess our damages and to see if we could salvage anything. Here are a few pictures from that morning:







It turns out we were able to save a few personal things from the aftermath of the fire though mostly everything was either burnt or smoke-damaged. Luckily the majority of our gear survived the fire and subsequent dousing, but our voluminous merchandise did not fare so well.



Our attitudes at the time are somewhat hard to describe. We were all incredibly thankful that everyone was unharmed, thankful that we were in a position as a band where this would be a relatively minor setback. But the loss of our stuff weighed on us and, compounded by the eeriness of the scene of our half-charred bus, made us feel a little burnt out ourselves.

And that’s ok. I think God allows each of us to go through things like this to shake us up and hopefully make us realize what’s concrete and what (pardon the expression) will be spiritually consumed. It happens all the time and is ultimately a Godsend; however for us this instance proved a very obvious parallel to the spiritual, and so it was easier for me to see it for what it was. I thank God (grudgingly at times) for this experience because I’m now a little less attached to “stuff” and a little more to His providence. It’s a small step, but one in the right direction towards Him.

The Fourth of July brought Sarah’s sister to Denver for a few days of Rocky Mountain goodness. For the fireworks show we went to a park near downtown to see the Coors Field display. We got there a few hours early for a picnic and some bocce ball. (I don’t know if you, reader, have ever had the pleasure of a good round of bocce ball, but I’d suggest either way that you go today out to a park and bocc it up.) As it neared the time for the fireworks display the weather started getting a little ominous. The wind picked up and it started raining a little (very cold, stinging raindrops), but it soon subsided into quiet overhead lightning. From our vantage point the storm clouds then moved behind the ballpark, making the light show from the clouds backdrop the now starting fireworks display. For my part I’d have to say the natural display was a great deal better than the mad-made one. It was as if God were saying, “Is that all you’ve got? Look what I can do!” Awesome.


While Diane was in town we happened to drive past a 7-11 that had been transformed into a Kwik-E-Mart in anticipation of the Simpsons movie. Here are a few shots from that fantastic wonderland of cartoon doughnuts and three-for-the-price-of-three deals:




A few days later Sarah and I, along with a bunch of friends, went to see The Big Lebowski shown at Red Rocks amphitheater. Though we probably won’t do it again it was a good time, made especially so by a few guys dressed up as The Dude, their costumes complete with bathrobe and jelly shoes. Josh Blue (from “Last Comic Standing”) also made an appearance and was funny though his jokes start to wear out their welcome after being repeated multiple times.


A few weeks later Mandy got the itch to host something again, so she invited us to hang out for a few days on her parents’ houseboat in Oklahoma. Thanks Mandy! Because I had to fly in after a show I needed someone to pick me up from the airport. Mandy’s friend Blake was kind enough to do it. Now Blake is the proprietor of a Tulsa-based pizza place called Joe Momma’s. Once before a show that the band played at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Blake brought out a variety of pizzas for us. Did I mention Blake’s a nice guy? Some of the guys remarked that it was the best pizza they had ever had. I agreed with them. Stranger, if you are in the Tulsa area or plan to be soon, make a point to go to Joe Momma’s and order up a big ol’ Cheeseburger pizza. Then you can thank me anytime.

Back to the houseboat. Upon arriving at the place where it was docked I started guessing which boat it might be. We kept walking along the dock passing the smaller, more reasonably sized boats until we got to the ginormous (this word is now actually in the dictionary) boats at the end. The largest of these turned out to be Mandy’s boat. I walked in to discover that this was not a houseboat; it was a mansionboat! It even had a waterslide on the second level. We spent our days there mostly hanging out in the water and getting lost with the speedboat. I got to wakeboard for the first time. What a lousy, lousy wakeboarder I am. I afterwards slightly redeemed myself by being able to get up on a pair of waterskis and stay up for a few minutes. I say slightly because after-all, they’re still dorky waterskis. At the houseboat I also started and finished the last installment in the Harry Potter series. If you’re a fan, this book won’t disappoint. Okay, I go from waterskis to Harry Potter. What a geek.


The next week I went to Nashville to record the other half of our soon-to-be-released Christmas album. Boy howdy was it fun. My personal favorite is a Christmas carol that the five of us all stood around the mic to sing together. I’m sorry, but as part of my Non-Disclosure Agreement I cannot reveal the name of the song.

The next week Sarah and I spent our time rock climbing, riding bikes, and helping our friend Andy install flooring. I use the term “helping” loosely here as I mostly acted as a grunt both handing him the next piece and running to grab him a drink.



Later that week the band played a county fair in the center of the universe. By this, of course, I mean Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We opened for American Idol star Chris Daughtry. Now Chris is a nice guy and all, but I think he has a bit of an overactive hero fascination. Don’t believe me? Take a look at his tour pass:


Two weeks after the Daughtry silliness Sarah and I embarked on our 13-hour journey to Minnesota. Some friends of the family had offered their cabin on the shore of Lake Superior to our family, for which we were very appreciative. Thanks Page’s! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Duluth/Two Harbors area, it’s this amazingly beautiful, heaven-on-earth, northernly type of place. We had all kinds of weather up there, and each type showed a facet of Superior’s beauty. The best part of this area had to be the name of a nearby town we drove through: Castle Danger. How is that not the most amazing name for a town possible? We visited a lighthouse, played a bunch of Wii, went hiking, and of course played much bocce ball and even croquet. A definite highlight for me was building a bonfire as a huge orange moon came up over the water while listening to my brother and his girlfriend playing guitar and singing together. The only downside to our stay in shorefront bliss was not having any hot water. I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder, though that might have been in part due to my Dad incessantly calling me “Half-Pint”. Whatev, Charles.








The day after we got back to the Cities Sarah and I went with her family to the Minnesota State Fair. It was very much as expected. Long lines, crowded streets, and greasy, greasy food. It was awesome. I mentioned in a previous blog entry Sarah’s and my way of justifying the price of admission. Well this year I don’t believe I got my full ticket price, but a guy wearing a “There’s no place like” t-shirt and another guy looking like a clown attempting to dress up as Superman went a long way in trying to stretch those dollars. I suppose the fried cheese curds made up the rest.


A bunch of video-games and a round of frisbee golf concluding the rest of our trip, Sarah and I made our long and arduous way back to Denver by listening to audiobooks and the monotone hum of Nebraska’s highways. Now everything’s back to normal; Sarah’s at home, I’m on the ol’ road with the band, and the guy dressed as Superman is hopefully now in decent attire.