Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amazon Gets It...Finally!

Tech Crunch points us to Amazon's new music service - amazonmp3. Songs are delivered in mp3 format (which means they'll play on just about any type of player!) and are DRM free. Tracks start at 89 cents apiece, which is far cheaper than rival Apple's iTunes.

Amazon is well known for their great prices, ease of use and stocking pretty much any book or other necessity. It's no surprise that they have jumped into the music download business as well. It's taken them awhile, but they seem to have gotten it right, waiting until the DRM dust has settled and signing most major record labels to contracts.

Will this cut into other popular download sites such as iTunes? Only time (and tunes) will tell!

UPDATE: By the way - you can purchase this newly released album for only $8.99!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Gift of Gratitude

Here's another great post from our friends at Zen Habits. Be sure to check out the simple prayer at the end of Leo's post.


1. Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life.
2. Because it turns bad things into good things.
3. Because it reminds you of what’s important.
4. Because it reminds you to thank others.

Being thankful for what God has already given you can totally change your perspective on life. Try this exercise: think of 5 people who have been influential in your life and thank God for them and their impact. Take time to email, call or write them to thank them for this gift. You may never know how this might return the blessing you have already received.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Smacked Around...

I have been out of pocket the last few days, and despite what you are getting ready say, it was not because of busyness!! I have actually been SICK! And I mean the smacked around kind of sick.

Every once in awhile I'll catch a cold or something like that, but I haven't been "sick" in I can't remember how long. I haven't even been to the doctor (knock on wood!) in over five years!

But Friday I started to feel very crazy in the throat and by Saturday morning I couldn't swallow or take any liquids - the result? Strep throat. Or at least that's what they think. I had to go the emergency room and they said they don't test adults anymore for strep (kind of strange I thought, but not complaining - I hate that swab thingy!). So...they loaded me full of drugs (a big honkin' antibiotic, steroids and Tylenol 3) and home I went.

Today? Feeling a bit better, although it still feels like someone scrubbed my throat with some sandpaper. A bit tired but no worse for the wear. I should be good as new in the next few days or so. I'll be glad to get back to "normal" - but maybe a bit slower paced?

Several exciting announcements coming up...stay tuned!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


This post hit home this morning. My wife and I had some great conversation yesterday, and I know she'll shout a big AMEN to the post I just mentioned. I was having the same conversation with someone else just the other day - about how we don't live life on the front porch any longer. Technology, with all its positives, has turned our communities into "shellters" [pun intended!] instead of porches.

As Melissa and I continue working on the "clutter" and simplifying our life, here's a sample from the blog post that might help you as well:

S - Slow down
I - Imagine doing less
M - Make time for loved ones
P - Practice patience
L - Learn to gently say no
I - Increase your quiet time
F - Follow your heart
Y - Yield to life, yield to peace, yield to joy

Where do you need to "simplify" your life?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Are We Asking The Right Questions?

We read an article in staff meeting this week that identified vision as one of the key factors for an incredible volunteer base. One question we need to ask our core of volunteers is why they do what they do. How would they respond? Out of guilt? Or obligation? Or would they respond by saying they do what they do because they are on mission with the church - to reach people who don't have a relationship with Jesus?

Here's another interesting application. Read this from Brand Autopsy:

The Wall Street Journal reports
the Big Four accounting firms are using "Employee Generated Media" to help gain an edge in the ever-competitive campus recruiting scene. Josee Rose writes:
"To lure candidates steeped in Facebook and YouTube, the Big Four are turning to the Web. Deloitte & Touche asked employees to make short videos about their experiences at the company. The videos were a way 'of taking the aspects of social networking and experimenting on how you can use the new tools of today to move forward into a workplace of the future,' said Cathy Benko, chief talent officer. About 400 videos were made, and the 14 best will be posted on YouTube and used on campuses.[source]
What would it look like if we asked our volunteers to make a video of why they do what they do? What would they say? Or how about a more extreme example - what if every first time guest that walked through our doors made a video about their experience and posted it on YouTube? Would that change how we "do" church? Are we afraid of what they would say?

What other questions should we be asking ourselves?

MySpace For Rent?

More proof that MySpace is dying? Check out this comparison chart via the Swerve Blog:

Tickled Pink!

Here's an uplifting story of high school kids who "get it." I love their spirit of standing up for what is right regardless of what's standing in the way (literally!). A simple brainstorming action and a bit of technology and BAM! these kids solved an age old problem. Kudos to those who refuse to be satisfied with the status quo!

[link via this guy]

I Need To Get Regular

As usual, it's been a busy past week. Thanks to the guys at Creative Animation for sending a phenomenal video crew to Meadow Heights this past weekend. They were working on a special project for us, and we're looking forward to the end results!

Also a special thanks to the many guest bloggers that have been filling in during my absence. Those guys (and gals) were stinkin' awesome!

I'm looking forward to getting back to some regular blogging and some regular family time and of course, SLEEP!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Guest Blogger: Jeremy Leach

Let me just say that it is truly an honor to be a guest blogger on Bucketology this week considering I've never blogged anywhere ever. My name is Jeremy Leach and I'm a pharmacist in my hometown of Fredericktown, but also serve on staff part-time at Meadow Heights Church (Fredericktown). There I take on several responsibilities in the arts department; I'm currently heading up our LiVE Team (essentially our music team comprised of about 40 volunteers), and I also take care of music selection, scripting, auditions, and some video editing as well. I also am a member of the music team where I sing and play piano. Music is something I enjoy very much and if I'm not playing it I'm probably listening to it.

I want to give you guys some info on artists that, in my opinion, have been an oversight in the music industry; each of these albums has had a significant impact on me either musically or spiritually in the last few years, but you may not have heard much of their material on your local stations...at least not any of our local stations...here in Fredericktown.

Kara Williamson
I'm not sure where this girl came from, or where she went, but I managed to come across her cd a few years ago. Someone told me she originated in the Passion albums, then released her own cd thereafter, but I've searched the web for her and even looked to possibly book her for an event last year and got nowhere. Her CD 'Undisguised' has been in my cd player heavily over the past 2 years. Her voice is great and her songs have been used to encourage me on many occasions. There are many vertical worship tunes that would work great in a music set, "O Wounded King" and "More Than Enough". My favorite song on the album is "Dear Performer". For anyone who's ever been driven by fear into 'performing' through your life everyday instead of being real with yourself and with God, listen to this song!!

There's a good chance you did hear this group on the radio, but not enough!! Get their cds! There are 2 of them which I purchased not even 2 months ago and I'm hooked. I even added one song of theirs I did hear on the radio, "Filled With Your Glory", to our music set this past weekend and it was very well received! The songwriting on their discs is incredible and the lead vocalist is great. Be sure and listen to a few of my favorites: "Son of God", "Love Break Me" and "Over My Head".

Charity Von
I love unique voices. This chick has one! She is a rocker all the way, but she rocks it kind of old-school. I think of Melissa Etheridge when I play her songs. Her CD was released in 2004, and I still love listening to it! I don't think she's put anything fresh out, but if anyone hears differently let me know. You can tell just in her voice on the recording that she is into the music 110%!! There are also some amazing guitar solos on this album, if you're into that...I usually skip them. The slow, worshipful "In Your Presence" is my favorite, but give a listen to the more energetic "The Narrow" and "Message" and get ready to rock your face off!!

Jimmy Needham
Kind of a one-hit-wonder this past year, his single "Lost at Sea" did make it to radio, but I haven't heard much from this artist since. He's due for a new disc, but the first one has become one of my favorites! He has a great bluesy, acoustic style. If you like the stripped-down, simple, raw sound of an artist, this guy brings it! I would love to see him in concert! My favorite tune on the cd is "For Freedom". I find myself singing this all the time! Also listen to "You Make Me Sing" and "Dearly Loved". A college kid who sings, plays and writes all his material at this quality deserves a listen!!

Anthony Evans
I've never heard a single song of his on the radio. I didn't rank these based on the 'most over-looked', but if I did-this guy takes the cake!! His 2nd album release "Letting Go" has been the most influential album I've ever owned. I can't tell you what timing God had in my very purchase of the album a year and a half ago. There are songs on this album that brought me through the most trying point in my spiritual life, and it was a surprise because I think his first album sucked. Now, I'm a sucker for pop. Lot's of complicated vocal runs I could only dream of mastering and a male vocalist with a range out of this world are showcased on each tune. If any of you share common interests get this album. You will love it!

Well, that's all for now. Thanks to Michael for inviting me to do something I've never done before, it was fun. Also, please respond to this post. I want to hear all about YOUR favorite unknowns too!!

Thanks again!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Guest Blogger: Jason McMurry (the Mac Daddy)

Top 5 Most Inspiring Sports Movies

I love movies with heart, purpose, and that share a story of making a difference - you add a sport to it and what a powerful package! To nail it to a “Top 5,” that’s tough, because I have 36 movies on my blog (www.coach-mac.blogspot.com) that have inspired me. But the “Top 5” in my opinion are the following:

5. Glory Road

I love how the coach in this movie thought outside the box, looked past the color of a man’s skin and looked at the heart and raw talent of an athlete as he recruited a history breaking basketball team in the NCAA. This movie is about the importance of “Team” and breaking racial divides.

4. Remember the Titans

A great movie about breaking racial divides brings two races together against their will, through a lot of adversity from within the team and from the community; the team eventually becomes a tight family unit (a Team) that experiences some success with the game of football. This team was able to re-educate and model for their town how different races can come together and appreciate each others difference and become a Team. Not just in the game of football but in the game of life.

3. Miracle

This movie reminds me of the movie “Hoosiers,” but instead it is about hockey not basketball. I love the methods and ideas this coach uses to break down his team, and how he was able to build them back up into an Olympic Gold Team for the USA. This coach stuck with his beliefs even when no one else believed in him, but in the end everyone loved him.

4. Hoosiers

Redemption for a coach who had some regrets from the past and gets an opportunity for a fresh start. I admire his methods and ideas in developing “Team Unity” in the game of basketball. In the beginning he was hated - in the end he was well loved by his team and community.

5. Rocky

This movie is my all time favorite about overcoming all the odds that may be against you. This movie displays a lot of heart, determination, and the will to win. I love the focus and raw authenticity of Rocky. This movie inspires us all to not give up on our God-given dreams, but to pursue it with a vengeance. My favorite Rocky quote from the new movie, "It ain't about how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." And you can’t leave out the analogy of “The Eye of the Tiger,” which is that focused, determined look in your eye to win that comes from the depths of your heart.

All these movies have a great message of teamwork, overcoming adversity and the odds to make a difference, sticking to what is right even if you are all alone, that it is never to late to put action to a dream that is in your heart, strong character, and a heart of determination (The Eye of the Tiger). That is why these movies made my “Top Five.”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Significantly Challenged

ChurchRelevance points us to this article by the Barna Research Group. The Barna group asked parents to identify the most significant or challenging issues facing teens today. Here are some of the statistics from their research:

For Teenagers

  • 42% listed peer pressure
  • 16% performance in school
  • 16% substance abuse
  • 15% behavioral issues
  • 6% values development
  • 5% college choices and acceptance
  • 5% attitude
  • 5% media use
  • 3% listed challenges related to their teen’s faith

For Young Children

  • 26% listed school performance
  • 24% listed peer pressure
  • 10% behavioral issues
  • 6% attitudes
  • 6% media use
  • 5% family-related struggles
  • 5% health-related struggles
  • 5% issues related to maturation
  • 3% listed challenges related to their child’s faith

Whether you agree with the validity of these statistics or not, it's important for us to recognize that our kids face some incredible challenges today. What's funny is that I would highly doubt this list (with the exception of the media portion) is much different than 50 years ago.

I wonder what it would look like if we listed the top challenges we face as adults? How would that change the way we relate to one another? What challenges are you facing?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do You "Verve?"

Professional and amateur musicians alike will enjoy this new creative project from Kyle Yugawa. It's simply titled "Verve,"[link courtesy of this guy] but it's so much more than that. Users are able to select from various instruments such as the acoustic guitar, piano, percussion and more. That's where the fun begins.

As part of the creative expression, you can create, record and edit a composition based on sound, shape and motion. A very unique site, beware...you could spend many hours enjoying your creation!

NOTE: Verve is currently in alpha; some features are not yet enabled

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Have Difficulty (Part 4 of 4)

I have difficulty with perfectionism. It creeps up in some crazy ways sometimes and often without warning. I used to struggle with this continuously, but God has really helped me in this area.

Here are some ways I battled perfectionism:
  • Making everything a contest - my project, idea or way had to be the best; I was always competing with something or someone
  • Not trusting others to do work I should have handed off to them in the first place
  • Always thinking that I can do it better and faster then anyone else
  • Wanting everything to be 100% - even if I sacrificed God, my wife, my family or myself to get it done
Ultimately it comes down to a pride issue. Will I continue to do it my way or God's way? How have you struggled with perfectionism?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Designing Your Life

Here's a great little exercise courtesy of Zen Habits. You can read the entire post here.

Designing Your Life

What would you be doing tomorrow if you retired today?

Let’s say you had a blank day staring at you. You didn’t have to work. You could do anything at all (although money is still a limiting factor). What would your perfect day be like?

These questions are more than just hypothetical questions to ask for fun or idleness. It’s an exercise meant to get you thinking about designing your life.

Here’s the process:

1. What’s important? Ask yourself what is most important to you. Regular Zen Habits readers know that I ask this question in many articles, but that’s because any process should start with this, whether it’s a process of simplifying, of productivity, of frugality, or of becoming happier. What do you love doing? Who do you love spending time with? Make a short list of 4-5 things.

2. What is your passion? What do you love doing the most? Can it be a way you make your living? If you can make a career out of doing something you love, you will love your day. Dare to imagine that this could come true.

3. Design your day. Start with a blank slate, and design your perfect day. Incorporate the short list of 4-5 most important things above, to ensure that you are spending your day doing what’s most important to you. Also include time spent working at your passion (from item #2). Include an ideal routine, including a morning and evening routine, and everything in between. What time would you wake up and go to bed?

4. Figure out how to get there. What changes would you need to make in your life to make that perfect day a reality? Be willing to consider drastic changes if necessary. Come up with a plan to get there. It might be a plan that will take 6 months, a year, two years or 5, but you can get there eventually, if you want it enough. Dare to make it a reality.

5. Start making some changes immediately. Some of the changes can be done right away, especially if the changes are under your direct control. The time you wake up and go to bed, for example, are probably under your control. Your morning and evening routines are another example of things you can probably change immediately. Spending time doing the 4-5 important things on your list might also be an immediate possibility. Notice the things you normally do that aren’t on the list of 4-5 important things — consider eliminating or minimizing the time you spend on the non-important things to make room for the important things.

6. Start making long-term changes now. Longer-term changes might include things like doing your passion for a living, or where you live, or getting out of big commitments that don’t contribute to your happiness or are not on your short list of 4-5 things. But while these kinds of changes might take longer, they can still be done. Start on them today, set them in motion, and dare to believe that you can change these things. Make a plan, and set it in motion.

7. Keep the end in mind. Print out your perfect day, and keep that in mind as you begin to make changes. This is the life you designed, rather than the one you’ve fallen into. You are in control of your life, and you can have that life, if you want it enough.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I Have Difficulty (Part 3)

I have difficulty staying organized. It's not the organizational part that I actually struggle with, but the amount of "stuff" that hangs around all the time. For some reason I am more organized at the office than I am at home, although some would call this a stretch! The home front plays victim to "piles" of stuff that never gets sorted, or as my wife likes to make reference - the "pack rat" in me.

I have read this book which gave me some great ideas on becoming more effective through organization. The trouble is that I don't have enough margin to implement the strategies! I have started reading this book - we'll see what insights come from this one.

My wife has started the "declutter" movement which is now becoming very popular. Many sites like this one and this one have some great thoughts and strategies. I think the most difficult part of getting organized is just getting started. Overcoming the mindset of the seemingly enormous task that lies ahead. Breaking the task into smaller, more manageable pieces seems to help as well, and gives everyone a shot in the arm when those little projects are completed.

Do you struggle with organization? What strategies have you found for overcoming this?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Buckets Are In the House

A crazy kewl weekend...

You can read about it here and here.

Buckets are in!