First of all, if you were hoping to go to church and you’re not sure what to do now, I’d love if you’d join Lesleigh, Theo, and me at our church today. Here’s where we’ll be: Elevation Church LIVE stream at 8:30am CST.
This will be the first Easter Sunday I’ve ever spent in the house. As a boy, I always woke up early, put on my tie and dress clothes, spent a few minutes looking for a very well-hidden Easter basket (I’ve known the Easter Bunny to be a remarkably tricky creature), before walking down the street to church to play trumpet with my mom at the sunrise and 9am Easter Worship Services.
The blasting brass, the choir, the organ, the lilies on the altar, and the hymns of resurrection, redemption, hope, and joy moved me profoundly.
My life has taken me many places on this day: in 2006, I was at the massive Vatican Easter mass among tens-of-thousands of people in Rome, last year I celebrated privately with just a couple of close friends while on tour in the Middle East.
This year, our world needs Easter as much as ever. I’ve seen people posting about a new trend called “Toxic Positivity.” It is directed at people, like me, who aren’t posting every day about case counts and death tolls.
I empathize with your fear, and weep with those who weep. What I can control is what I DO take in. Yes, I know the news, but I watch it after reading my Bible or watching a good news piece about courage. I prefer to look at fear on a spectrum. There’s a difference between feeling afraid and moving forward, and feeling afraid and moving backward to panic and hysteria.
I lived in the aftermath of 9/11, I lost my job and couldn’t find another in 2008, I’ve ridden in the back of an ambulance holding Lesleigh’s hand while she lay still, in a neck brace, on a stretcher, after we were run off the highway by a drunk driver in 2014, and I had Covid-19 symptoms and telemedicine advised I self-quarantine. I was in bed for 9 days (3 weeks ago). I know suffering. I also know that suffering leads to perseverance, which leads to character.
I’m hoping with my positivity to remind people that evil has not won, and will not win, this world. Easter is hope. Hope is a living thing.
He has risen indeed! Let us Rejoice with hopefulness!
Each of us was born and built with a purpose, and uniquely crafted for the time that we are in.? ? I was invited to talk about “Connecting Through Isolation” for the State Department’s podcast, 22.33 – honored to be featured alongside fellow Exchange Alumni, as we talk about how to spread light in the world.? ? Thank you for listening and sharing! ? ** my interview is at 27:09 ** ? LISTEN HERE!
Tennessee is experiencing shortages of critical items that will help the relief effort and the families who have been affected by the #NashvilleTornado.
YOU CAN HELP! Lesleigh and I are setting up a command center at our home. We created an Amazon Wish List of supplies – CLICK HERE to donate items!
If you feel so moved, you can send everything right to our house. Every little bit helps. We will be bringing supplies into the city, and we appreciate your help in restoring this community that we love.
I had the joy of sitting down with Heather Parady for an interview with the “Unconventional Leaders” podcast. We dove deep and talked about purpose, faith, grit, parenting, and how challenges shape our character.
When we arrived at the girls’ school, we unloaded our gear from the van, and then asked to set down our instruments in the courtyard for a moment. We were told that the students had prepared a traditional Saudi Arabian Sword Dance to welcome us for the day. With silver blades shining in the midday sunlight, banging drums, and the biggest smiles you can imagine, the girls danced the steps they’d prepared for us guests. The hospitality and excitement with which we are treated here is unique and special.
After the ceremonial greeting, we were ushered inside the school to have lunch with the U.S. Consul General in Dhahran. She was friendly, a great conversationalist, and I noticed she recalled the students’ names who were present after they’d introduced themselves to her. She paid close attention to the kids, and the kids loved her. Name memory – seemingly so small… yet so rare. It really stood out to me.
After lunch, the students and staff were waiting in the common area for our concert to begin. Girls from elementary age to teens to teachers all packed into the cacophonous common assembly space.
They shared a brief video about the school that documented the girls working with advanced robotics, and learning about the circulatory and nervous systems of the human body – this was a specialized STEM school with high standards, and just an amazingly impressive group of young people to say the least.
After the video, the band took the stage, and I could feel a palpably important moment happening. There was an extraordinary interest and an immediate, electric connection from the room, as I shared about our music, our tour, and especially about my long road as a professional guitar player with adaptive methods. A clear, fresh message overtook me as I looked at the ceiling around the room, decorated in quotes from history’s greatest minds, and looked out at the eager students’ faces.
You see, as a background, it wasn’t long ago that something you probably regard as commonplace where you are – women driving cars – was forbidden in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Now, I’m told it is legal, but still not fully welcome here in areas outside of bigger cities. With this context, I hope you can understand and even feel what it was like to be in that particular room of young women… It was powerful, and you could feel a definite strength.
As we sang our song, “ I Am Never, Never, Never Gonna Give Up,” it was so loud that the band could barely be heard over the students as they shouted along.
We closed with the pop mega-hit, “Roar,” and it somehow raised the volume in the room even louder (see video above). While we were playing, I looked at the band and knew we all felt the same: Something is happening in Saudi Arabia, we had a front row seat this week, and we are beyond grateful to be witnesses and to be some small part of it all.