The Wisest Decision Of Our Adult Lives.

As 2012 comes to a close, please let me share my family’s 2012 story with you.

It’s a story of denial, realization, conviction, humility, a key decision, change, discipline and an unbelievable outcome.

And as my wife Jen and I now look back on it, we agree that it was, without question, the wisest and most important decision of our adult lives.

So please let me share our journey with you, because our situation might be similar to yours. And just as a simple decision made a radical change in our lives, I hope & pray that it does in yours, if need be.

I thought our “Financial House” was relatively in order, but my incredible wife Jen did not have any peace as to where we were, either month-to-month or long term.  I kept telling her we were fine, but deep in my gut, however, I knew she was right. I was the ostrich, burying my head in the sand.

Like many of us, we were living above our means.  Not extravagantly, mind you.  We were not in terrible debt, and actually thought we were being wise in our decisions, like cutting cable in order to tithe like we knew we should.

But something was still not right, and peace did not exist.

At some point this past summer, Jen and her friend were chatting, and her friend was sharing how they had been in such dire financial straits, but how their lives had been changed by seeing a certified financial coach/councilor. His name is Parkey Thompson, and he is a Dave Ramsey “Endorsed Local Provider” here in Cumming.

After years of thinking we had our finances under control, as Jen and I discussed it, I came to the humbling (and embarrassing) realization that we needed the assistance of a capable, caring professional.

So two weeks later, I reluctantly joined my wife in his office for a “free 30 minute consultation”. Yeah, I was skeptical.  But my calloused attitude changed pretty quickly…

His calm and gentle Christian spirit helped put a mirror on our own situation. We were able to see where our money was being wisely spent, but more importantly, where it was “disappearing”.  

I realized that our so-called monthly budget was a sham, and our year-to year and long term plans were more of a punch line.  This was something Jen knew in her heart and was trying to tell me all along, but it took a third party to help wake me up.

So we decided to hire Parkey for the 6 month program. Because we honestly had nothing to lose.

And something radical happened….

He instantly became our friend, our advocate, our teacher and accountability partner.  

He helped us develop an actual plan to get out of debt, and long-term savings strategies to help us never return.

He helped us get excited about taking a brown bag of PB&J sandwiches instead of hitting the drive thru.

He helped us plan a monthly budget, assigning every dollar a name before the month even began.

He helped us realize the power of finite cash in an envelope versus an out-of-control debit and/or credit card.

I was worried that while trying to “get on the right financial track”, that we wouldn’t even be able to afford his services.  But in the first month, in addition to paying him an installment (1/3 of the fee), we actually put in savings MORE than his entire fee.  

In other words, in that first month, we quickly realized that we couldn’t afford NOT to hire him.

That was September.  

Today, we are out of credit card debt, have more money in savings than ever before, and actually have a strategic financial plan heading forward.

We have strategies to plan for not only month-to-month, but for quarterly, annual and long-term costs as well, like tag renewals, HOA fees, 1099 taxes, automobile replacement, retirement, etc…

There is more peace and communication in our marriage than ever before.  Our kids are learning to give, save and spend wisely.  And we are far more prepared for whatever bumps-in-the-road may come.

I finally realized this past year that I couldn’t have what was best for me or my family without getting my financial house truly in order, and that I needed a competent, kind, caring professional to accomplish that goal.

I say all that to say this – I care deeply about you, and want the absolute best for you and your family. That’s why I’m sharing our story. Hopefully it’s the friendly prodding that you might need…

And if any of our story rings true with you, I hope you take an honest look at your situation. Pray about it, and talk it over with your spouse, if applicable.

In case my friendly prodding causes you to take a step, here’s Parkey’s contact info:

Parkey Thompson

And don’t worry – this isn’t a pyramid scheme, and I’m not getting any kickbacks… You know I don’t roll that way. I just want you to experience the new-found financial peace that we’ve discovered through discipline and professional assistance.

Hopefully it will help you sleep better at night!  Especially Saturday nights… 😉


Humble or a Jerk?

Is your Worship Leader (or Band Leader) a jerk?

‘Cause if they are, you can go ahead and remove them from that responsibility 😉

Well, at least for a little while…

This year’s theme – through a variety of means – has been made evident that leaders need to first be servants, and sensitive, respectful and truly listen to those they have been entrusted to lead.

I’ve heard that this year from a few people I respect:

Chuck Swindoll

Andy Stanley

Jeff Henderson

Malcolm Gladwell

Todd Fields

oh, and Jesus…

And my respect has grown for those I’ve seen put it in action.

My prayer is that every day I become more like those people. That I don’t ever lead in aggression based on insecurity, but that I’m reminded of and humbled by the honor to lead – no matter how many or who they are.

3 Faves I’m Diggin’

Hey kids!

So here are 1 old fave podcast and 2 new other things I’m really diggin’ on right now, and you might too!

#1 – Macbreak Weekly

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This is a podcast I’ve listened to for about 2 years, and can’t wait for each weekly episode to come out. It’s hosted by Leo Laporte (anyone remember Tech TV?), and he’s joined by a usual cast of very knowledgeable – and very funny people. And after just one listen, I was enjoying their camaraderie even more than the content they provided!

The content is their review, analysis and projections of Apple technologies (Macs, iPhones, etc.), as well as how they relate to the rest of the industry as a whole. Always good – and entertaining stuff.

#2 – History of Jazz – iTunes U

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These are a series of FREE audio downloads (podcast) from iTunes U. The content is a very entertaining and well put together by its presenter, Dr. Gordon Vernick. This is a MUST for any musician, whether you’re familiar with playing jazz or not. It’s always important to know where our music has come and evolved from. It’s almost a Jazz for Dummies, but with some depth.

#3 – Pitchmen

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Definitely one of my favorite new shows! You know Billy Mays – the guy who pitches Oxy Clean, Kaboom, Mighty Putty, etc. on TV. Well, he and other famous pitchman Anthony Sullivan have worked together for 20 years, and now Discovery Channel is taking a look behind the scenes of what they do and how they do it. And it’s really interesting! And, like most Discovery “reality” shows like Mythbusters or American Chopper, the entertainment value is really high. I’m really diggin’ it.

Sunday Summary – Music: June 14, 2009

Redneck’s Famous Last Words: “Hey Y’all, watch this!!”

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Yeah kids, it was Bluegrass Sunday at North Point.

And I don’t mean we just added a fiddle to a couple tunes – I mean we went all out Bluegrass on both East and West stages for the Opener and all the worship tunes.

Each side had two acoustic guitars, mandolin, fiddle, scaled down drums, upright bass, and 3 fantastic three-part-harmonyin’ sangurs…

(OK, we had electric bass in East – so only a little cheating…)

Each side opened with an old tune called “The Fox”. It’s a Bluegrass standard, and we copied a version that Nickel Creek did a few years ago.

That song has, without a doubt, WAY too many words in it. But that’s part of what makes it a great, fun tune! Give it a listen on iTunes – see if you could spit those out!

Todd sang it in East, and Mike Hines did it in West, and both dudes did an amazing job!


I Saw The Light

– yep, an old tune made famous by Hank Williams, Sr. 130 bpm’s of hoedownin’ joy!

Let God Arise

– put your metronome on 140, play a double-time train beat (boom chug, boom chug, boom chug, boom chug), and flat-pick yer fingers off! Now straighten out the “Let God Arise” lyric leading into the chorus in 3 part harmony and you’ve got a heap load of fun. Add a fiddle and mandolin solo for taste, and you’ve got a recipe to burn the barn down!

Jesus Reigns

We did this one far closer to the original, but obviously substituted instrumentation. So the rhythms and melody were familiar, but it had a sweet twist with some beautiful fiddle and tasty mandolin fills. Think a lovely Alison Krauss tune…

Now was it as deep and spiritual experience as some may have liked? Maybe not. But it accomplished our goal of engaging the audience with something that put a smile on their faces and amazed them musically. It was such a treat to let some of our most accomplished players and singers really let loose – like unbridled stallions!

You will gain an audience’s respect when they are presented with a quality that is beyond their expectations, no matter the genre.

While can’t post video of this past Sunday, there’s an old video floating around YouTube of the old 7:22 band playing “I Saw The Light”, including Todd singing lead and Jason Hoard on mandolin.

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East Band – Todd Fields, Jason Hoard, Bethany Olds, Ashley Appling, Pat Malone, Danny Grady

West Band – Mike Gleason, Mike Hines, Rachael Gillis, Tim Huffman, Tiffany Watson, Scott Meeder, Steve Florczykowski

West – Check out Tim’s “Uncle Earl” outfit, complete with suspenders and straw cowboy hat 🙂


East – Bethany taking a solo…


Todd Fields’ CD Release – Video Photos

Todd’s new CD releases this weekend, and we had a concert for it Friday night.

Needless to say, it was an incredible experience, not only musically, but personally as well. The chance to make incredible music with incredible people is such an amazing blessing.

You MUST get the new CD, which will be available exclusively through North Point Resources until it hits iTunes in late June.

And our buddy, Matt Gibson, shot a behind-the-scenes video that will, hopefully one day be available for public viewing. In the meantime, here are some screenshots I captured from my favorite scenes of his incredible handiwork, along with some simple impromptu photo titles……

“Microphone & Light”

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“Snare & Sticks”

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“Praying Lady”

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“Set List”

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“From the Front Row”

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“The Most Important Thing”

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Todd Fields – lead vocals, electric guitar

Ashley Appling – drums

Pat Malone – Bass

Jason Hoard – electric guitar

Brad Avery – electric guitar

Reid Greven – keyboards, acoustic guitar

Ryan Stuart – backing vocals

Jordan Watts – special guest backing vocals

Jayce Fincher – front of house mixing

Tyler Freeman – monitor mixing

A big thanks to Matt Williams, Dan Stonaker, Suzy Gray, Rick Holliday, Andy Stanley, Bill Willits, David Hill, and all the members of North Point Resources that made this possible!