Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crazy Day

Today was Crazy Day at Lily Kate's and Levi's school. Or, as we call it at the Cottrell house, just another day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Of course Combos don't count as a vegetable.

That's why we stopped at Burger King on the way home and got some onion rings.

Quick Question

Do Combos count as a vegetable?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Holding Down the Fort

This is me this week:

Only without the hefty paycheck that I'm sure Michael Keaton got for this 80's gem.

Angela is in Washington DC with her best friend / mentor / prayer partner / former sunday school teacher, Anne. They went to see the sights and spend some time praying for our country. Angela has NEVER been to DC...so I was so excited for her to be able to go. She is having a great time. They are coming home late Thursday night.

I am home alone with kids, and we are having a pretty good week. It's 9:30, and everyone is in bed...including me. That is a miracle right there. I have only had the smallest bit of resistance; apparently Angela's snacks are "better," whatever that means. As I am walking out of Lily Kate's room a few minutes ago, she was coaching me on exactly how to pack their school snack, and what to pack.

Oh, and Levi told me that Mom was "nicer" than me. Obviously he is still bitter about the candy incident. So guess who is basically getting the royal treatment now? And who is laying here with one foot in my side? That's right. I am not about to be out-niced.

: >)

The kids? I can handle the kids. I can handle the house...and the laundry...and the food. But it's the HOMEWORK. Lord, help me. THE HOMEWORK. HOMEWORK. I do not remember 3rd grade being so brutal when I was there. For crying out loud.

Really, we're doing good. Enjoying some special things. And praying that Mommy has an AMAZING time during these days away.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Most of this year for me has been spent working on my Christmas record, Ring The Bells (which releases October 7, by the way. Is that date circled on your calendar? harhar). I have never spent so much time (or energy. or money.) on a project before. Also, I have never been so excited about a project before. I have chronicled many of the moments on here...including my excitement to work with the freakishly great Brown Bannister as my producer for the project. I learned so much. Worked so hard. And just flat out had a great time through every moment of the process.

Hey...have I mentioned that you can pre-order your own copy, er, um, copies today over at my website? Wow...I can't imagine the relief you will have taking care of so much Christmas shopping so early. Stocking stuffers, teachers' gifts, pastors' gifts...not mention one for your home AND one for each car in your family.


A few months ago, my record label, manager and I began to talk and brainstorm about ways we could make this project more than just another CD release. We wanted to do something that would make a difference for eternity...investing in people like Jesus would. They came to me with the idea of OPERATION FREEDOM BELL. And I instantly loved it, for many reasons. Here is how it works:

When you purchase this Freedom Bell (you can find out what exactly this bell is here), a NEW TESTAMENT is sent to a soldier currently deployed overseas. Also, when they receive their New Testament, they will receive access to a website that will allow them to download some Christmas music, as well as stream personal messages from Lt. Col. Oliver North and Beth Moore.

So, when you buy a bell, you send a bible. The Word will go out. In power.

You can follow the links to their website and read specifically about these products, and how this process actually happens, so I won't duplicate all of that information here. But I do want to give you personal testimony about why I think it's important that we all participate in OPERATION FREEDOM BELL. Of course, we all have been touched personally in some way by people we love serving in the military...whether it's spouses or parents or children or brothers and sisters or friends...and even many of you yourselves have served. And many of us have even lost loved ones. My life is far removed from any kind of first hand experience with serving our country through the armed forces myself. And my prayers, thoughts and thanks go out to all of the BRAVE people who serve in this selfless and heroic way.

A lot of you know that I came along later in life for my parents. My dad was 45 when I was born (of course, that doesn't feel nearly as late as it used to). Because of this, I had a privilege that was rare for other kids my age: I had a dad who served in WWII. He served in the Army. Not only did he serve, but he was a prisoner of war. He served for 9 months in a concentration camp in Germany.

I have some really neat documentation of his story. Once, when I was in elementary school, I recorded him telling his story (on a cassette, thank you very much) so I could do a report for school. I have since had it put on CD. My siblings and I cherish it. Also, one year for Christmas, my mom and he typed out his life story. It talked a lot about his time in the service, in the war, and in captivity.

While he was captive, a lot of the horrible stuff that you might expect would happen to him did. Horrible stories...some he told, and some he never would. When the Germans captured him, they took everything he had in his possession. Everything but ONE THING: a small, metal-covered New Testament that he carried with him in his front shirt pocket...as he says, "next to his heart."

They never touched it. It was the only thing that stayed with him for his entire time of service. He still has that New Testament today.

When he returned home at the end of the war, he gave his life to Christ.

So, as you know, I do not have first hand experience with clinging to God's Word in the midst of terrible war. But I am here - alive - because my dad did.

Buy a bell. Send a bible. Who knows just how many people will be changed forever because you did?

Living Proof Live Billings

Living Proof Live Billings Montana from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

Friday, September 19, 2008

We Are Having A Great Time In Montana

Some of my awesome ministry family...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Love These Kids

Our friend Rich, who takes all of the awesome pictures that you see of our Living Proof events, including the post-event slide shows that I post on here, came over a few weeks ago and took some great pics of the kids. Here are a few low-res versions...just a few of the MANY great pictures he took. Thank you, Rich!

(If you are in the area, you should contact him and have him take any pictures you need to be taken. He is awesome.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Stuff

Hey, everybody. Hope your week has been good. All is well at the Cottrell house. Remember how I talked last week about how since all of the kids are in school now, I feel like all these missing hours were poured back into my days? Well...a friend of mine yesterday told me that it was kind of like buying a new house. You have all this new space, and you think you will never fill it all up. But after living there for a couple of months, you realize that you filled it up without even noticing.

That's what has happened to my days. Mostly. But it's all good. Today I never actually left the house after taking the kids to school...until 4:00. That is some kind of record for me. I cleaned my office...and actually found my way to the surface of my desk. Rock on.

Thanks for your prayers for Levi. He is back to normal. His neck is not swollen anymore. The doctors don't really know exactly what it was, but they have watched it and are still watching it carefully, and are not alarmed. And he is pretty much fully recovered from his surgery. Occasionally he will say, "Daddy! Don't squeeze me so tight! My STITCHES!" But I think he is just tired of my squeezes...and not so much in any squeeze pain.

All you middle Tennessee friends...I have a concert in Mt. Juliet this Sunday night, September 21, at Gladeville Baptist Church at 7pm. Their awesome choir and band will be joining Julie, Angela, Seth and myself for a night of worship. This is a worshipping church, and we can't wait for Sunday night. The concert is free. I hope you will join us.

We are heading to Billings, Montana in the morning. We have a Living Proof Live event there this Friday and Saturday. I am going in a day early to do some local ministry. We would all appreciate your prayers for this busy weekend.

That's all for now. I hope to write more in the next day or two about the exciting thing that's going on here. Take care!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Levi Update

Thanks for your prayers for our boy. He is doing better. He is still not able to run or play, but he is not experiencing any pain, which is good. He will get his stitches out on September 17, so we are hoping for him to be back to normal by then.

You can continue to pray for his neck, though. It's so strange, because he has been the picture of health his whole life, and now he has these two things right at the same time. His neck is very swollen and tender just below his left ear. His range of motion with his neck is very limited. The docs aren't sure what it is, but they (and we) are monitoring it very carefully. Thanks for your prayers.

One sign he might be feeling better:

This came home with him yesterday. Umm...yeah. There you go. A little unusual for Levi. Not so unusual being the child of Angela Cottrell. HAHA Just kidding. Yes. No. Yes.

Levi's teacher brought a stack of get well cards from the whole kindergarten class Friday afternoon after his surgery. He was ECSTATIC. He looked at them a million times. Plus, he loves his teacher, Ms. S. So, he decided to write Ms. S a thank you note. We sent the note with him to school yesterday. Then, we got a call from Ms. S yesterday afternoon. Guess what Levi snuck in the card?


One hundred and one dollars. Seriously.

Angela had just been to the bank. And she had that cash stashed in her purse. Apparently, Levi's love language is GIFTS. Because that is quite a thank you gift for some get well cards from kindergarteners. I guess he is more fond of Ms. S than we realized. : >)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Deeper Still Las Vegas

DeeperStill - Las Vegas 2008 from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

Deeper Still Las Vegas was amazing! One of the best events ever. Thanks to all you ladies (and a few brave men) for opening your hearts to us, and - more importantly - to JESUS. Glory to HIM.

Thanks, Rich, for the great pics!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank You!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your prayers for Levi and for us today. Levi came through the outpatient procedure well. He has had a little bit of tummy pain, and isn't into walking very much yet. But he did manage to force himself to go to Marble Slab Creamery for some ice cream. : >)

Thanks again for praying for us, and for reminding us of God's perfect faithfulness...and His perfect portion of mercy for everything we walk through. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Levi's Surgery

Thanks for praying for my sweet boy Levi today. He is having surgery to repair a hernia this morning.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Hey, friends. I hope you are having a great week. Thanks for your grace while I took a little unplanned blog break. After our fun weekend in San Antonio...WHEW! I was tired. It was an awesome Living Proof Live, followed by 3 services at Oak Hills Church the same weekend (their pastor is some guy named Max).

I came home to find the last week of work on the Christmas project staring me down. We finished everything up (finally) after more than 6 months of hard work. Woo hoo! It's done! When I finally did the last bit of listening and deciding and scoping and wringing of hands, I felt like I was walking on air. I am so happy to be done...and what a joy it was to make. Now, if I can just persuade a few people to purchase it...

Last week was also the first week that all of our kids were in school. And by first week I mean the first week in ELEVEN YEARS that all of our kids are in school every day of the week. It's been quite an adjustment these past few days...especially after our home schooling stint last year (which we loved, by the way). But can I just say that with them in school, and with my project being finished, I feel like the Lord has just opened up the heavens and poured HOURS back into my days. I am LOVING it. Nobody in the house for a few hours but us. I keep telling Angela we could do naked cartwheels if we wanted (she hasn't fallen for that suggestion just yet). I actually got some much needed office work done today, plus I got my cell phone AND my computer fixed. And I bought a birthday present. HOURS, people. I got HOURS back.

Our baby is in kindergarten. Too much. I don't really want to talk about that. I'm just sayin.'

Speaking of my baby, would you please pray for him (Levi) this Friday? He is having some minor outpatient surgery (he has a hernia). I will be out of town. WAAAHHHH. The surgery was planned for later. But the doctor called and had an opening this Friday...and since Levi has had some abdominal pain from the hernia, we decided to get it taken care of as quickly as possible. Thank you for praying for him.

Before I arrive in Las Vegas for Deeper Still this Friday, I am heading to Houston on Thursday. My mentor (I call him my "worship daddy") Dick Hill's wife, Dot, passed away on Sunday, after a long bout with a terrible muscle disease. Her service is this Thursday. Please pray for Dick and his two daughters, Ashley and Ally and their families.

Dot was the most gracious person I have ever known...even in the midst of horrific circumstances. What a legacy she leaves. Heaven is lucky to have her.

I gotta go watch tennis. I hope you all have a great rest of the week. I will be back soon!