So much to update you on!

First, I want to say I’m sorry for being out of pocket for so long. I came nowhere near my goal for Music to Pray By in 2013. It seems as though other priorities snuck in throughout the year, and I wanted to share with you about some of them.

First, one that directly impacts this ministry – we’ve moved! We actually stayed in the same neighborhood, but upgraded to a little larger house that has more space for the studio. Now the piano has it’s own room where I plan to keep microphones at the “ready” at all times so there’s no setup when it’s time to record. There’s also more space in the control room for recording the band, which will certainly be a welcome change. Here are some pictures right after the move. I’ll be sure to update you with current pics once everything is setup:

Ctrl Room 1 Piano Room 1There’s conduit running between the rooms for the MIDI and microphone cables. Most of the acoustic treatment is here and it’s just a matter of putting it up based on the designs Auralex provided. I hope to have the studio 100% ready by the end of this weekend.

We’ve kept our old home and are renting it out as a vacation home for those traveling to the Austin area since it is a hot destination for a number of reasons.  We’ve listed it at homeaway.com. If you’re ever destined to the Austin area and need a place to stay, feel free to reach out! I know this GREAT church right down the street if you’re here over the weekend and would like to attend Sunday service.

Another major deterrent was the CCIE Security lab exam, which I spent countless hours  preparing for this year. I took the lab in the middle of November and I did not pass. In fact, I left Cisco feeling as though version 4 of the lab is not passable. It was extremely discouraging, but I’m not going to give up and hope to try again mid-next year.

With regards to podcast 68, it is recorded and about 60% edited and hope to have it posted before the new year so stay tuned!

The invisible war wages on!

It is difficult to get into the details of what has happened to me over the past 3 months, but I feel it is important to share this with you. Mid-April was a huge turning point in my life. I had just left my job at AT&T to become a consultant with a much smaller company, the Soundwave tour was in full swing with weekly practices and concerts, there was my commitment to The Connection Church ministry leadership and worship teams, and Yoko and the kids were getting ready to leave for Okinawa without me for 3 weeks. On top of all of this, the enemy took huge advantage of a very weak point when I was under for a dental surgery. I literally thought I was dying and it was as though every Truth about our existence in God’s Word ceased to exist and my entire foundation was shaken to the core. I was flooded with more doubt and depression than I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I began to spend every spare moment I could find listening to God’s Word in the car, praying, reading the Bible, but the “near-death experience” had me convinced EVERYTHING was meaningless. It was so crushing that it took me 3 days just to recognize it as a spiritual attack. When I did, the enemy no longer tried to hide the evidence of the attack, which increased exponentially with fear added to the mix – unexplainable fear. I immediately began to call and text family and friends to pray. That night, I sought after God and relied on The Holy Spirit more than ever.

Over the past few months, there have been victories, but there have also been struggles with depression, doubt, and fear like never before. A split-second thought followed by wave after wave of spine-chilling goosebumps, sometimes occurring over and over for hours! Throughout most of my life, the enemy has used my flesh with sinful desires and bad habits, occasional doubt, etc., but this was different. It was truly a non-stop war on my mind. I have never had thoughts enter my mind that made my soul cringe like this – thoughts I don’t have the words to describe, and the enemy would trick me into pondering these thoughts to the point of spiraling into deep, dark depression that would last for days. Over time, God began to bring into greater light the spiritual war that was going on. Truth in the scriptures like 2 Corinthians 10:5, prayer, family (especially my bro David), and the same Power that raised Christ from the dead gave me renewed hope and peace. Our God is so faithful!

I truly believe that God is doing some GREAT things through this ministry and the enemy is not happy about it. Prayer IS the way we wage this invisible war by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and this fact has never been more real to me. A few days ago when I posted on Facebook asking for prayer, it had been another very rough few days dealing with a weight of depression that had no explanation whatsoever. I could literally feel the depression lift as you guys prayed for me.

I hope this encourages you to pray continually. Pray for the state of our nation. Pray for those affected by the Colorado shooting. Pray for the unsaved in your churches. Pray for your pastors, your family! …and if you have time, I am eternally grateful for any prayers lifted up on my behalf. Satan is a formidable enemy, but GREATER is He that is in me than he that is in the world!!! – 1 John 4:4

The story behind the $100 song – Terms of Endearment

Growing up, I didn’t have a choice when it came to taking piano lessons and practicing the piano. I remember like it was yesterday how my mom would sit me down at the piano and tell me I had to practice an hour or get a whipping. She would then set the stove timer for an hour and I would have to sit there and run through my practice routine before I could do anything else. She doesn’t know this, but I used to sneak over to the kitchen stove and knock 5-10 minutes off the timer every now and then when I could get away with it. I started taking lessons at the age of 7 and by the time high school came around, I had gotten pretty proficient at learning and playing classical music. I can just picture in my mind’s eye my dad thinking to himself, “this kid’s gettin’ pretty good” so one day, he offered to pay me $100 if I could learn and perform the piano solo, “Theme from Terms of Endearment”. The $100 was all the motivation I needed so I started practicing it every chance I got. I even remember my piano teacher, Mrs. Lum giving me pointers. I actually combined the standard and advanced arrangement into my own custom version. About a month or two later, I had it memorized and as I was running through it at home, my dad came over and gave me a $100 bill. That was the first money I had ever earned playing the piano and it was truly motivating. So, here we are two decades later and my dad asks me, “where’s my $100 song?”. Well, obviously, I had forgotten it long ago, but I found the sheet music for the standard arrangement online, and my mom actually found the advanced arrangement I used back in high school. It even has Mrs. Lum’s notes throughout so I spent the past month practicing almost every night and got it recorded for him. Here I am 20 years later still earning that $100! 🙂 Enjoy!

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Soundwave recording new album

This past weekend, Soundwave came together at my new place to record two new songs, and we got quite a bit done. I still have a lot of mixing to do, but the new studio is definitely helping. Check out the pics below:

On a side note, the piano was tuned last week, and I’ve got the next podcast recorded. I’m a bit rusty so it’s taking me longer than normal to edit, but I hope to finish it tonight. Stay tuned!

Something so inspiring to me…

I decided to go look at my podcast on the iTunes Store, and found some truly awesome “Customer Reviews”. They make my heart ache with the desire to record another podcast. Fortunately, we close on our new home a week from today so the next podcast should be coming soon.

We’re moving!

It’s not to another country or anything like that. Things are bad, but they’re not that bad yet. 😉 We’re just moving across the street to Buda. I probably should have blogged about this sooner but life has been full speed ahead! Since my last post, we’ve completely transformed this house into a new home staged beautifully. There have been a dozen people in and out of it helping us. We’ve got it listed for sale, packed up half of our stuff in boxes, and still have more to go. Somehow, I found time for a local Huey Lewis cover gig. We had a 10-piece band – there were 4 singers, two of which were the electric guitarist and drummer with an electronic pad, trombone, trumpet, and sax players, an organist with an old 60’s B3 and Leslie cabinet (beautiful sound), bass player,and myself with every synth sound I could hear in Huey’s songs. We performed for Valentines Day, and had a really great time. At work, we brought hundreds of servers into production in our new datacenter in San Antonio. It’s our primary datacenter supporting AT&T Wi-Fi Services. It’s huge, and I’m responsible for the network – lots and lots of pressure. 🙁 Yoko had her yearly Okinawa Tomonokai event in Downtown Austin where hundreds of people go experience traditional Okinawan food and dance. I also got to serve with Soundwave at a wonderful church in Bastrop, TX this morning. We had a great time – lots of similarities to my home church. I would have most certainly fit the podcast in if my piano were tuned. I’ve held off since it’ll need to be tuned after the move, which should be the beginning of April. In the new home, I’m going to turn a room into a studio where the piano will reside so recording podcasts will be so much easier. The new piano will just have to wait for now.

Below you’ll find a video I took of Sanban a while back on my iPhone, and I just had to share it.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for the next podcast. The next one will be recorded in our new home – stay tuned!

MTPB coming tomorrow!

I recorded it yesterday, and I’m about half way through editing and mixing, but I’m falling asleep at the keyboard I’m so exhausted. A really good friend of the family, Don, is helping me build a new fence and patio. Today we actually got quite a bit done. Yesterday, I ripped all the old fence panels off the posts. Today, Don pulled all the old posts with concrete out of the ground, and I broke off the concrete and rounded up all the old stuff while Don set the first row of new posts that are 4×4’s rather than lanscape timbers. I’m not used to all this hard labor! I’ll be sure to blog in more detail about the whole experience once we finish – pictures and all. At any rate, I will use lunch time tomorrow to finish up the podcast and get it posted. I appologize for the delay.