Summer is the season for road trips and so I thought this little post might be helpful – Or at least a little fun. I don’t know about you, but it seems like every time I load the car, I start feeling a little like Clark Griswold. “We’re all gonna have so much . . . fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our . . . smiles.” I think it’s a dad’s job to make sure the family has some fun, whether they like it or not!!
Anyway, here are some of our rules for road trips. I’d also love to hear your ideas. You could make our family road trips better this year!
1. Daddy is in charge of music.
2. Kasen & Kesleigh choose movies which supersede any music choices daddy has. (Well, sort of. Daddy could override but chooses to give Kasen & Kesleigh preference out of his GREAT love for them. . . OK – maybe it also has to do with mommy and daddy’s sanity.)
3. Bathroom stops must be at least 2, NO! wait . . . 3hrs apart. Kasen is still being potty trained and so he can stop and pee on the side of the road whenever he chooses. Kesleigh can pee in her pull-up. Miranda can stop drinking Dr. Pepper!
4. Bucee’s is the best choice for apit stop. All other rest stops are inferior. (One exception: The Czech Stop south of Ft Worth on I-35. Their kolache’s are amazing.)
5. Cherry Sours are vital to daddy’s road health. Judson-Atkinson are the best! (Thanks to my friend Jason Hess for the introduction.)
6. If you must travel with your dog, one should use extreme caution when navigating the “mine field” found in the Bucee’s patch of grass.
7. Good food choices for places to stop include but are not limited to: Arby’s, Braums, and Chickfila if they have a playground.
PS – Louisiana Exit 80 on I-10 used to be on the list, but evidently has a new less cleanly owner.
8. NO STOPPING IF BOTH KIDS ARE ASLEEP!
Extra Rules added by Miranda: 1. Car must be loaded down with Capri Suns, Fruit Snacks, and Dum Dums for kids.
2. Milkshakes should never be placed on the center armrest and then immediately elbowed onto the floor! (My bad baby. I’m sorry.)
3. Country music must be allowed on beautiful sunny days. (Can I veto this one?)
I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.
There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!
OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally.It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.
I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?
Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”
God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)
Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!
PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.
A request before my post: If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below. I’d love to pass on some of your stories to the band. Now I’ll continue with my post.
I was at a wedding a little while back (Congrats Jon Eichler!) that made me start thinking about the band I used to play in – Throne Together. At the wedding Jon Godbold and I took a few pics in honor of the band – that’s probably what made me start remembering. Anyway, there’s no way to describe the impact that “Throne Together” had on me, so I figured I needed to write something to try to capture a part of it.
“Throne Together” was originally organized as the worship band for a Saturday Night service which Mike Mathews (Pastor @ TUMC) wanted to start. We got the band together and began practicing. Most of us had never played in a band before but we were having so much fun that we just kept working. Meanwhile the Saturday Night service start date kept getting pushed back so I talked Mike into letting us play one Sunday morning as a special event. Although it stirred up some trouble for him, Mike decided that he wanted us to begin playing every other Sunday morning and so we did.
When the service finally started we had grown into a full fledged band and adopted the name “Throne Together” from Jeremiah 3:17 “We come to the throne together for worship.” We rehearsed during the week, and played for the Saturday Night service as well as every other Sunday morning. It was during this time that the “Worship Wars” began at Tomball UMC. Although many loved the addition of the band to their traditional service, some church members weren’t too happy about it. Along with Mike Mathews, we became the target of much criticism. It was a tough time but it was also an incredible time. In spite of the critical people, we were also riding the waves of excitement among our supporters. The persecution only served to bind us together and solidify the sense of purpose we had in following the calling we felt to find new ways to express our own gratitude and relationship to God. Throne Together became a sort of family to one another. We took care of each other and supported each other. Our weekly rehearsals became a sort of small group. We studied all kinds of books (usually about worship) and together, we all grew closer to God. We hung out together outside of church. We were friends. (and still are)
We tried to find places to play outside of church as much as possible. Each year we spent a full week playing for the Texas Conference NW District Camp for about 400 High School students. These times became important for us as they allowed for us to have extended practices and lots of shared time to hang out and simply grow together. There was also a young man named Charles Jones who would sit in with us on the piano. All he needed to know was the key we would play in and he’d just jam away. (Charles is now a professional musician living in LA. He was in the movie “Dreamgirls” and plays with John Mayer, Jonny Lang, Jennifer Hudson, etc.) Playing at “camp” also allowed us to bring a few extra people along. We always had someone to run sound/video (Evan Godbold, Zach McNair, Jon Eichler, Ryan Floro, Jarrod Ambrose) for us during our worship times. Many of these “extras” eventually became musicians themselves and ended up serving in other bands and ministries. We also played pretty regularly at “His Word” Christian Bookstore/Coffeehouse where our church members would come out to support us in great numbers. One of those nights a young man named “Todd Agnew” opened up for us. (He eventually went on to have quite a bit of success himself.) Another yearly gig we had was playing for the Susanna Wesley Day School Fall Festival. Those were great times ’cause we got to play outside and let our hair down a little bit. Things were very laid back and we could experiment a bit. One of our greatest compliments actually came from one of those gigs. One young boy told his mom that we weren’t really playing and it was a recording. Also by the way, we put together a group called the “Four Tune Hunters” to play for one of the first Fall Festivals which included Jon Godbold, myself, Terry Crump, and Kurt Narum. This may very well have been the beginning of Throne Together as it brought Jon and I together to collaborate.
We recorded two CDs during our time together. “Knock Just a Little” was released in 2000 and “The Return” in 2002. Although there were a few exceptions, Jon Godbold was our main songwriter. He would bring a song to the band and then we’d collaborate a bit to figure out song structure and add musical ideas to his foundation. The songs reflected many of the feelings and thoughts that we were experiencing together. Those were fun days. We recorded in a home studio with the leadership/production expertise of one of our great friends – Mike Briscoe. Kristy, his bride was also very gracious to allow us to invade her home so regularly during those times. Mike is an incredible musician himself. If you ever have an opportunity, check him out.
Original Members were:
Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
John Creed – bass
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar
Sarah Rampy – keys
Janice Stump – vocals
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals
It wasn’t long before John Creed moved away and so Jon Godbold reluctantly joined the “church band” as our new bass player. Shana Googer, Janice Stump, and Sarah Rampy also moved away. We chose not to replace them, but eventually found Chip Leitschuh to play keys. These changes brought us to what would become the backbone of the group.
Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals, flute
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals – always a part of the group when she was in town
Tragedy struck the band when Buck died of an accidental overdose with a bad combination of prescription drugs. Other than family, I was the first to arrive on the scene that night. Buck’s son, Dustan Thrift was in Hawaii working as a trainer for the SMU football team and his mom asked me to call to give him the bad news. It was a tough night to say the least.
Eric eventually stepped out and Leslie and I moved away.
Third generation of players
After Buck died and Eric left, we had a lot of instrumental shoes to fill. Luckily, many of our original fans had grown into musicians themselves and so Josh Cook and Dale Googer took on semi-permanent roles. We also discovered Chris Montes during this time and were trying to figure out why God would send us another acoustic guitar player/vocalist when we really needed an electric player?? Once God revealed his plan to move me, it all became clear. Chris took my place and was able to lead them to become much better musicians. Here’s the last line-up:
Chris Montes – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Dale Googer – drums
Josh Cook – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals
Other Short-Term or Guest Members include:
Ray Victor – soprano sax, drums
Patti Mathews – vocals
Dan Johnson – drums
Keith Cathcart – keys, vocals
Evan Godbold – vocals, bass, guitar
Hans Googer – guitar
Josh Gumienny – guitar, vocals
Zach Godbold – bass, vocals
Andrew Gay – electric guitar
Charles Jones – piano at church camp
According to Jon, one of the very last line-ups was what he called “Throne in the Greenhouse.” At their final District Camp the members of Throne Together (Chris, Jon, Chip, Shana) joined forces with those from “Greenhouse Effect” (Zach, Dale, Josh, Andrew Gay). Jon says it was “loud of full of energy.”
The impact of Throne Together is tough to describe. We were mentioned in the Cy Falls High School Yearbook as one of their students favorite bands. (That may be our highest official honor.) The entire community of believers at Tomball UMC was directly impacted each Sunday as they were led in worship. (Some would say it was a horrible impact.) Throne Together was also a part of a beautiful movement of the Spirit during those days. Quite possibly the greatest impact was eventually seen in the number of young people (once fans) who would go on to be involved in worship music themselves. There have been quite a few worship bands who were formed from the ranks of Throne Together fans. Even more interesting is to watch the 3rd Generation of bands – people who were impacted by people who were impacted by Throne Together. There’s no way to know how many people have been touched by all these musicians, but I feel confident in saying that God rejoices over them all. And I feel humbled and blessed to have been able to be a part of it.
If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below.
Each download below includes entire CD. All songs + a Digital Booklet which was created from the original artwork. These files are large (high quality) and will take a while to download. Just right click and select “save as” to download.
I am grateful for the people in my life who have been singing to me lately. They are reminding me of who I am. And quite honestly, I’ve been struggling with that a bit. I have needed singers in my life, and God has provided them for me. Let me explain:
The other day, I heard a story about a song. A story about identity. It is supposed to be true, but I can’t verify it. Either way, it’s got a great message. Here’s how it goes:
There is an African tribe where pregnant women go out into the wilderness with their friends to “hear the song of the child.” After hearing the song, they return and teach it to the tribe. When the baby is born, the whole tribe gathers to chant the song. As the child grows, he/she hears the whole tribe singing their song many times: when they start school, when they pass into adulthood, and when they get married. When they die, the tribe gathers around the death bed to sing them into eternity. Another time that the song is sung is when/if the child commits a crime or horrible act. The tribe calls them into the center of a circle and then sings their song to them – reminding them of who they are. It’s not sung with judgment, but with love and concern for the child who has forgotten who he is.
Alan Cohen (who I believe authored the original story) writes, “A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”
I love the idea of reminding each other of our identity during those precious times of transition in our lives. And also when we have done something wrong, but I think there’s a crucial element missing in this story – Jesus. As a Christian, my identity is in Him, and Him alone. When I need to be reminded of my beauty, my wholeness, my innocence, and my purpose, I need to be reminded of Jesus. For I am only beautiful, whole, innocent, and given purpose as I find myself in Him. The “friend who knows my song and sings it to me” is Jesus. He knows me better than anyone and can remind me by speaking/singing through the voices of my brothers/sisters in Christ.
And for me, that’s exactly what He is doing in my life right now. I’m down and so He is using all my friends to remind me of who I am. My friends are singing to me and I am grateful to both them (the singers) and Jesus who is the one behind the song.
By the way, here’s a short list of what I know about my identity in Him: Who I Am in Christ
Lift Off!! U2 took us off the planet for a couple of hours last night. They called the stage “our space station” and at one point in the show the rocket launched. Away from the cares and worries of this world and into the skies soaring into a beautiful cloud of song.
I had to update my Bucket List today in order to account for the awesome night that Miranda and I had last night. We saw U2 for their 360tour. Miranda bought tickets back in April (before we knew we’d lose my job.) as our birthday gift to each other. Quite possibly the best concert I’ve ever seen. It was a great night of awesome music from some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. They put on a great show. Every time you think you’ve seen it all, they’ve got a new trick up their sleeves and Bono does a phenomenal job of interacting with the crowd. He seems to really care about his audience. The Christian messages that are sprinkled into their lyrics were also very encouraging for Miranda and I during this time in our lives. Some of our favorite songs from the night were:
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
City of Blinding Lights
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Where The Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
I can hear you now. “What?? a mistake changed your life??”
It’s a long story, but after High School and a few years @ A&M, I ended up as a music major @ Texas Wesleyan in Ft. Worth. I had no skills for it, but loved studying music. It was completely the opposite of the engineering degree I had been seeking @ A&M – where I had the skills and no desire. I also realized that I loved working with youth groups during that time and took my first part-time youth ministry position at Aledo FUMC. It was a great job. During that time, I worked part-time @ the Sears Auto Center, went to school (Texas Wesleyan) full-time, and worked part-time at as a youth minister. I drove almost 100 miles a day and became pretty adept at changing clothes in the car. I worked for about 2 years this way, and ultimately realized that at the end of my degree in music, all I’d be able to do is teach band or try to make it as a performance musician. Neither option sounded good.
Anyway, the music minister at the church talked me into going to choir camp that year as an adult participant. When we arrived, they told us they had never received our registrations (there’s the “mistake” I’m talking about) and that we could stay if we would work with the children. We had the week off already so we decided to stay. I played guitar with the guys in my group and ended up leading singing for 100s of children in the evenings. One of the other counselors, Susan Bryant approached me about coming to be the full-time youth minister at her church. I had never thought of that. I knew music was a dead end for me and I knew God was revealing an ever-increasing love for youth ministry to me in those days, and I went for it. The pastor called a week later to arrange an interview. I drove down and life has never been the same.
I stayed at that church (Tomball FUMC) for 12 years. I found another family there. I grew there. I was discipled there. I was stretched there. God allowed me to be a part of some incredible ministry and to see lives changed dramatically. I met my bride there. I was married there.Tomball FUMC was a turning point for me, and I would never have been there if it weren’t for a mistake. Here’s how I see it all adding up:
God had someone lose my Choir Camp registration
+ God allowed Susan to see something in me
+ God created a restlessness in me about the music major
+ God led the Pastor at Tomball (Nick Sholars) to call me
+ God granted me favor in the eyes of the SPRC
= a new job + a new direction in life + discipleship + a new extended family + a passion for life/ministry + an eventual bride + my amazing children + + + + etc. + who knows what else is to come?
It’s just crazy to think my whole life spins off this one “mistake.” Hmm. . . .was it really a mistake or did God have a hand in it?
I have served as the worship leader for our contemporary service for the past 3 years and did it in my previous church for about 8 years. Anyway, they just officially hired someone for that position to start this coming week. I must admit that I’m excited! It’s been way too long since I was able to sit in church with my wife. I can hardly remember the last time we were able to worship together in a contemporary service.
Some people are concerned that I’ll miss it, but I really don’t see that as a possibility. It’s just music. I truly believe the best worship leaders are “lead worshippers.” They are worshippers first and secondly they are leaders. Over the years, I have discovered that this amazing contemporary music movement which has so dramatically changed the church, is not really the way that I connect with God. When the whole movement began, I loved it. I could lose myself in the songs and truly be connected to God, but now I seem to connect to Him in much more private ways when I’m studying alone or listening to sermons in my car. Anyway, I think I’ve become more of a worship leader over the years and less of a lead worshipper. I’m glad to hand the baton over to someone who truly feels called to this ministry.