Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Random Ramblings

Just a few random thoughts while they're running through my head...

For those of you who have had to be up in front of a crowd for anything, whether it be singing, speaking, whatever...have you ever had something happen that just totally takes you by surprise and then leaves you speechless? My immediate reaction is laughter. I just want to bust a gut. Well, that happened to me tonight. Of course, I look out across the audience and most of the people have their heads down, avoiding eye-contact, and are shaking with their futile efforts at silently suppressing their mirth. To laugh at this specific point in time would have been the WRONG thing to do, but I could hardly take it. I focused on the one person who hadn't picked up on it and stared at them intently until the urge passed. Whew!!

Last night, I caught the second half of the Hoppers concert in Nampa at First Nazarene (had to attend our Financial Peace University class). I'm telling you, they're awesome! There were roughly 1100 people at the concert. I've already heard from several that it was one of the best concerts they've been to at First Naz. When it comes to a power soprano in Southern Gospel there are two all alone at the top: Kim Hopper and her sister-in-law Taranda Greene. They were on the last date of a 12-day tour and she still brought it. Unbelievable power! And, I commented to Lori last night that Claude Hopper is a phenomenal emcee. He has mastered the art of stammering and stumbling just enough to come across as an "aw shucks" good ol' boy, while delivering his punchlines perfectly. This was the first time I've caught on to the calculated genius of his delivery. I loved it. He had the crowd with him the whole time. The Hoppers have been as good to Liberty Quartet as anybody out there. They have opened doors for our ministry that would have never been opened without their assistance. I spent some time shooting the breeze with Dean and Claude after the concert. Sounds like the Fan Fest in Fresno is going to be one of the best ever. Doran made the mistake of telling Claude that he would help him sell his songbooks, so much to his chagrin, Claude gave me another shipment of books for him. It cracks me up! In my humble opinion, the Hoppers have gone back up to elite status since they parted ways with the Spring Hill label and start self-producing their music. Well, I guess they have partnered with Lari Goss on the actual production part, but they're now selecting their own songs and it shows.

Speaking of Southern Gospel concerts, the original Couriers (Dave, Duane, and Neil) are coming to town, my home church no less, and I'm going to be gone. I'm pretty bummed. I've had the privilege of getting to know Neil Enloe through the years via email. What a great man! Neil, as many of you know, penned the hit song "Statue of Liberty" among many other classics. His life has been marked by a passion for ministry. He's not about the money or anything like that. They have sung in 80 different nations, spreading the Gospel through music. He has given Liberty sage advice across the years, continually encouraging us to remember why we're doing what we do. He is a man who invests his time and resources in other people. My introduction to Neil was when I was working at GBS. I oversaw the production of our music recordings. A group had just cut a version of "Statue of Liberty". So, I emailed him to get the mechanical license for the song and pay the royalty. He emailed me back and told me that God wouldn't let him take money from a Bible college with a clear conscience. He explained that he got his start in Gospel music by singing in a college quartet. All he wanted out of the deal was a copy of the CD. That's pretty rare these days. Anyway, we've stayed in touch ever since. He just emailed me today and told me that I was missing out on a cup o' Joe since Liberty's pulling out for Canada tomorrow. I'm going to eventually collect on that coffee (or, in my case, some hot chocolate). If you're in Nampa on Friday go hear the guys. Philip Batton & Joyful Sound will be opening up (just checkin' to see if you're still reading the blog, big guy).

The best Southern Gospel CD I've purchased all year is Timeless Hymns & Classics, Vol. II by Brian Free and Assurance. They've taken a fresh approach to 10 classics and proven that you can breathe new life into old songs. I'm telling you, BFA is one of the most underrated groups going right now. Their sets at NQC were phenomenal. And, please, would you Southern Gospel "experts" and bloggers give Bill Shivers the respect he deserves. That guy is a freak of a lead singer! Anyway, I don't have the time or interest to offer a full review, but you can check out reviews at Musicscribe and Swain's Musings. My only complaint with the album was also picked up by David Bruce Murray at Musicscribe: the strings and brass on "The Blood Will Never Lose It's Power" sound very fake and cheesy. But, hey, that's my only complaint. Go buy the CD. In fact, I hear it playing in Trey's room right now. He goes to sleep with "Glory Road" on repeat.

Right now, the Phillies are leading the Rays 3-2 in the top of the 9th inning of the 2008 World Series game one. I could care less. Baseball has kind of lost me as a fan. Of course, that probably has something to do with the fact that the Cincinnati Reds are just pathetic. I can't ever bear to follow the sport. I guess I'll pull for the Phillies since Philadelphia is Lori's home town. That's also a good reason to root against them. You know, just to mix it up. Oh well, I'll be the supportive husband. I'm pretty sure my brother-in-law, Dave, has his head up to his XM radio receiver somewhere. An aside here, but have you noticed how it's so much better to listen to baseball on the radio instead of watching it on TV? Go figure. Probably Jack Hooker is kicked back in a La-Z-boy, an ice tea close by, listening to the game. Enjoy.

Well, it's off to Canada. Dan has lost his passport, so we might be bringing in a Canadian replacement. A guy by the name of Bryan Adams. Yeah, just another weekend.

Brithday Recap

Trey was pretty pleased with his birthday. For some reason, I didn't have any trouble getting him to wake up Monday morning. He popped right out of bed and was into a seemingly high-caffeinated, excited mood in no time. And this was without caffeine. He had a little party at school with his friends and then he came home, changed for his basketball tryout, nailed the tryout (he wanted me to keep statistics on his shooting; he officially shot 80%: 24-for-30), then picked up his buddy William Keep for his "home" party. I gave Trey the option of a party at home with a slightly bigger present or a party at Boondocks with little or no present from Mom and Dad. That was a no-brainer for stat-boy: he decided he wanted to throw a football birthday party.

So, here you go. Trey's party in a few pictures:

A quick huddle before the play. William Keep had to be quarterback since he wasn't supposed to run due to a dental procedure earlier in the day. He led Trey's team to victory, though, with just the bare minimum of running/skipping ("see, I'm not running!"). The boys cracked me up. They'd always shout "Break!" and clap their hands when they came out of the huddle.

Kassady even got in on the action. Trey tried in vain to convince her to be a cheerleader, but she wouldn't have it. She played all-time line-woman. I just scratched my bare head...

Fortunately, Josh and Amelia Jensen showed up. Josh called in plays from the sidelines. I ended up quarterbacking for the losing team, showing off my dynamic arm and mad scrambling skills. I didn't have an O-line and Trey blitzed me every down.

All the boys, except for Brandon (who had to leave early for the airport), were more than willing to cheese for the camera. Michael, Noah, Zeth, Tyler, William, and Trey kept things loud and moving.

Lori's football cupcake creations. For some reason she couldn't find any icing applicators and so she painstakingly drew the laces and stripes on with toothpicks. As you can tell Michael was blown away.

Apparently, the guys were impressed with Trey's gifts. They all gathered in close.

After the game was played, the cake was eaten, and with everybody gone Trey finished his birthday in style: reading homework with Mom.

This was one of the best parties we've thrown. Special thanks to Josh and Amelia for helping us keep things under control.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Perfect #7

It's hard to believe that 7 years ago today our first child entered this world. After 26 hours of agonizing labor (while I sipped Coke, watched ESPN, and kept the video camera running with a few unappreciated hilarious jokes), Lori gave birth to my namesake: Norman Keith Waggoner III. There are way too many Keith's in our family already, so we decided on the nickname Trey. God has blessed us with a boy whose heart beats for Jesus. The highlight of the last 7 years of parenting was when Trey called me on the phone while I was singing at the 2006 Fan Fest in Fresno, CA to tell me that he had asked Jesus to come into his heart. God heard that 4-year-old boy's prayer and saved him. I'm proud of my boy and thank God for a son with a tender heart.

Now, lest I paint a picture of some patron saint, let me assure you that Trey is all boy. He still argues with Kass over what movie they're going to watch, loves wrestling, thinks that "ripping one" is probably the most hilarious act a person can do, and hates anything to do with art. We still have to tell him not to jump on the furniture, occasionally have to get on him about tracking mud through the living room, and keep his Xbox playing to a minimum. All in all, though: great kid!

He's passionate about his sports. Trey is a fantastic soccer player, but longs to play football. Trey also plays basketball (in fact, we're leaving in just a few minutes for his tryout for this season) and baseball. He is a walking sport encyclopedia, always ready to dispense some obscure statistic.

I conducted a quick survey of Trey's raves and faves on his 7th birthday and here's what we came up with:

Sport: football
Teams: Cincinnati Reds, IU basketball, Boise State football, UC Bearcats, Indy Colts, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers
Subject in school: history ("learning about all the wars and stuff")
Movie: Alvin and the Chipmunks
TV Show: Suite Life on Deck (the new Zach and Cody Disney show which he found out he can watch online); ESPN; Spongebob Squarepants; Cory in the House
Book: Jigsaw Jones; Ken Griffey, Jr. biography
Music Groups: Liberty Quartet, dcTalk, Gold City, Toby Mac, Brian Free and Assurance
Song: "See the Glory" (Steven Curtis Chapman); "Glory Road" (Brian Free and Assurance)
Food: steak; hot wings; ribs
Drink: any kind of milkshake
Xbox Game: NBA Live
Board Game: Apples to Apples
Color: blue

Happy birthday, Trey. We love you!