Saturday, October 31, 2009

Let My People Go, Already

Here are my peeps, heading out to our church's Fall Festival. Moses, a nerd, and Helen Keller.

I'm gonna go make sure their candy bags are kept in a safe place while they are asleep. I plan to carefully go through every piece of candy and make sure that nothing is wrong with it. I might even have to offer myself on the altar of parenthood and taste test much of it to guard their safety and well-being. If you need me, I very well may be hunkered down in the corner of the room in a sugar coma. But please know it's for the sake of the children. FOR THE CHILDREN.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Pics Day

I was going through the pictures in my phone yesterday as we were traveling home from Kansas City. And it hit me what strange things I have pictures of in my phone. Weird. Just weird. So I thought it would be fun to have a day once a week on the blog called "Random Pics Day."

So here goes. Random Pics Day #1. How overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation you must be. Simmer down now. Really.

I wonder if Flash knows he's Player 2.

Someone at a church gave us this jam. It was so good and we made such a big deal about it, they gave it to us. It was supposed to go home with someone else on the team. It ended up at my house. And I took a picture of it to taunt them with the fact that I got it. That's my jam, yo.

A hydrangea the size of my head at the Green Bay airport. Riveting.

This is the camera they stuck down my throat to look at my vocal cords at the voice doctor. Fun times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Was Your Trip Last Fall?

Hey, friends. I hope you are well. It has been a crazy busy week. And I have spent the better part of the last 5 days without internet. But it has been a good weekend. Wait. Weekend? It's Wednesday. It feels like Monday. We sang in Yonges Island, SC on Sunday (had a great time with new SC friends), flew to Missouri on Monday, and sang all day at the Missouri Baptist Convention all day yesterday. And by all day, I mean we left the hotel at 7:15am and got back to the hotel at 10:30pm. I think I left a vocal cord sitting on the stage of the church somewhere. We had a great time, though.

Something happened to me this weekend that those of you who know me well are going to love. In fact, if you are one of my close friends, this is going to make your day. It's really not a very big deal or a very funny story. But I'm going to tell it anyway. Feel free to stop reading if you fear boredom. I'm about to squeeze a 3 sentence story into hundreds of words.

While we were at Yonges Island this past weekend, we were literally so far away from a main town that there were no hotels even remotely close to the church. So, the team and I stayed in a house. Not just any house. But a hotel-sized house. I'm talking The Shining sized house. Maybe not that big. But we all had our own rooms and our own bathrooms with all the girls on one floor on the boys on a different floor. The word gargantuan comes to mind. So anyway, on Saturday night, we had some practicing to do, because the church had requested we do some songs that we had never done live. So we got together in one of the dens of the house and rehearsed. At some point, Seth got up and went to the restroom. While he was gone, I decided I would be a wise-guy and get up and hide and jump out and scare the daylights out of him when we came back (yes, I am 13). I walked to the door frame of the room I thought he went into. Then I heard a noise to my right. I turned to my right, and that's when it happened. My feet began slipping and flapping and spinning at what seemed like a ridiculously fast pace. It was as if they were moving so fast that they were just a blur, much like the Coyote when he is racing off a cliff. Anyway, I began to take a tumble. My hands flew up in the air as I began to scramble to grab onto the door frame, as well as whatever invisible handrail I thought was hanging in space in front of me. I literally saw my feet at almost eye-level, as my shin hit the door frame. I remember thinking to myself that I was in a mess. I continued plummeting to the ground for what had to be at least 21 minutes...or maybe 3 seconds. I'm not sure. After my hard-fought scramble, I landed on the ground, right shoulder blade first, followed by my right elbow, right booty, and then the rest of my mid-air self.

My first thought: "Dear Lord, please don't let anyone have seen me." My second thought: OUCH. I jumped up as fast as I could. Julie saw it happened and had already jumped up because she thought I was going to be half-dead. She began saying things like "Oh no!" Are you alright?" "Oh my goodness!" And then I knew how ridiculous I looked when she finally just began saying," Bless. Bless. Bless." As in, "Bless your heart, you idiot."

So I immediately started laughing, because that's my natural reaction when someone falls. Even when I fall. I can't help it. I'm weird. And a little mischievous, maybe. But it is just my automatic nervous reaction when I see someone fall (as long as the person is not seriously hurt. That's a different story). I am sucker for any youtube video of anyone falling. So I'm laughing. And at this point Seth is back out, and Lici is up checking on me too. They are laughing, but also a little bit like, "Is it OK for me to laugh because you finally got yours, even though it was an abnormally hard fall?" I assured them that I was OK, and I was laughing too. But then something weird happened. I began to have these convulsive-like chills. Seriously. Chills and shivers that were out of control. They were staring at me like I had grown three arms out of my skull. But I couldn't help it. I felt OK. I mean, I was hurting and freezing cold and jerking around with shivers uncontrollably. But I felt fine otherwise. They told me that my skin had turned not just pale, but gray. They helped me to a mirror so I could see for myself. And they were right. My face was freaky-weird-blue-gray. I didn't know what in the world was going on. They took me to the couch and put about 5 blankets on me. I sat there and shivered for about 15 minutes, and then it finally went away.

I'm not really sure why the shivers happened. Shock of some kind? I don't know. Either way, it was weird. I knew it was a loud thump when the host mom yelled from the kitchen, one floor and 1.2 miles away, "Is everything OK up there?" They were very sweet and took great care of my walking-challenged self.

I was pretty sore the next day (I still am).

So, to all you friends of mine that I have so mercilessly laughed at when you have tripped, slid, fallen, or been gravity-challenged in any way, now's your chance to laugh it up. Really. Take your moment. I deserve it.

If you need me today, I will be hobbling through various airports on my way home.

And in the words of the wise Casey Kasem, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Like Rolls, Too.

Good morning, friends. I am trying really hard not to fall off the blogging wagon again. I am going to write right now, even though I am in full mouth breather mode, still in my pajamas, and with very little motivation to get anything productive done. I refuse to be that slacker blogger of yesteryear.

At least not today.

We had a great weekend. My sweet niece Casey came to visit us for the weekend, along with her husband Michael and two awesome kids. My kids had a great time with their cousins, and spent most of the weekend just like this:

My poor little great-niece was carted around on that hip for the better part of 60 hours. And my little great-nephew said so many things that cracked me up. The first thing he said to me on our very first outing was this:

"Travis, let me ask you a question. I like rolls."

And thus commenced a fun weekend with family. And let it be said that although I LOVE my calling in life and I am crazy about my life on the road meeting wonderful people and worshipping with them, it felt mighty fine being home on a Saturday. I turned football on the TV beginning Saturday morning at 10am for College Game Day, and did not turn it off until we went to bed. I never even left the house once. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

A fun time was had, complete with a puppet show:

I feel the need to clarify that the only reason there are no pictures in that frame hanging in Levi's room is because we have not had time to get any chosen, developed, and put in there. It has only been hanging there for a year and a half. So cut me some slack, already.

I am also afraid to say this for fear of being snatched up by the snares of pride. But I cooked one heck of a meal on Saturday (oops...I guess I was snatched up). Quick-fried beef with broccoli, cooked carrots and fried rice. And a kick-booty salad by my wife. Check out this delicious spread:

When I typed that food sentence, I accidentally typed "quick-friend beef with broccoli." Let me tell you, that beef was so good, it was a friend.

Food happiness:

(Is it my imagination, or is that firstborn son of mine growing a mile a minute? All the growing up. Warms my heart and makes me sad at the same time.)

We had a great time with our family this weekend. So glad they came. T-Dawg, if you come again, I promise we will have rolls.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Got Chiiiiiilllls. They're Multiplyin'.

Sunday morning, I got up at 4 a.m. and headed to just outside of Knoxville for a church's homecoming service. I'd never been to this church. I was going to be a part of a reunion of sorts of some friends with whom I had travelled many years ago.We were going to surprise our group's leader, who has been in ministry for many years. I told the kids on Saturday night that at least two of them had to ride with me. Immediately, Jack and Lily Kate wanted to go; Levi wanted to stay home and go to our church with Angela. It's still not clear to me why the two older ones jumped so quickly at the chance of riding 3 hours in a car, sitting in a long service, and riding 3 hours back. I think maybe it's because they know I am weak, and will invariably give way to their constant requests for all manner of snacks and treats. Maybe sometimes a pack of gum is worth just that much to a kid. I don't know. Either way, I was happy to have them with me.

They slept for the first hour or so of the trip. When they awoke, I decided it was time for some worship music. It was a beautiful morning. My heart was really tender to the Lord...what an amazing weekend it had already been at Living Proof Live Memphis (one of my favorite events ever)...and I was ready to worship. We fired up the iPod into the car sound system, and I headed to the place I always head when I am ready to go after it in worship: Kirk Franklin. We sang and bounced and laughed and got our groove on. When we got midway through a song called "Hero," I made the statement, "Ooo. This song gives me chills." And I gestured to my arm to show my son that I had chills, and the hairs on my arm were standing straight up. He had heard me say this before. He has seen me lose it over a song (or even a tv commercial, for crying out loud). He is used to me being moved through music. He replied while staring out his window, "I've only gotten chills once before while listening to music." That was all he said. I wondered when it was...what he might have been moved by, and if he really understood that it was the Holy Spirit speaking to Him and moving in his heart as he listened. But I didn't say anything. He seemed to be in deep thought, and I didn't want to derail him. I have a tendency to sometimes dig too hard and too quickly into their minds when they are in the middle of thinking things through. So I let it go.

We got to the service, and the reunion of sweet friends began. Lots of hugging and lots of laughing. And lots of rehearsing for a service that was to begin in less than an hour. We went through the songs we were singing together, and then just chilled until time for the service.

When the service began, 9 of us sat in the choir loft with the 9 or so of the regulars. We doubled their choir size (and had our pianist and bass player too). It was a small and sweet fellowship. A church homecoming celebration, honoring 150 years as a church. The service played out just as simply and sweetly as could be. No frills. No graphics. No monitors or drums or electric guitars. Just people. And the presence of God.

We sang a couple of hymns. And our group sang a song together. Then we filed back into the choir loft to sing the choir special with the choir. It was a very simple arrangement of "Thank You." You know...the one that says "Thank you for giving to the Lord / I am a life that was changed." The arrangement was so simple. Even more than simple, really. Still, I felt the Lord moving in my heart such deep groans of gratitude for everyone who had ever sown into my life in some way. I was having a moment.

Then I looked down at the front row. My two kids were intermingled with my friends David and Susan Moffitt's kids (David is my great friend and co-writer, with whom I've written many songs, like Alive Forever Amen, Jesus Saves, My Passion, You Changed My Name, Your Word Is Life To Me, to name a few). David and Susan and I had already shared a chuckle at what a great moment it was to look down and see our sons sharing a hymnal. Partly because it was moving to see the next generation worship together just like we have for so long, and partly because neither one of them hardly knew what a hymnal was.

Anyway, back to looking down at the front row. I'm having my moment in this song...and frankly, I have heard this song about 514 too many times in my life, and was shocked to be having this moment. But it serves me right. How dare we think that we are ever beyond being reached by WHATEVER song or WHATEVER message or WHATEVER He wants to use to speak to us. It's time for us to get over our "sophistication."

OK. Again...back to looking down at the front row. I'm having my moment in this song. My eyes lock with Jack's eyes. He has obviously been waiting for me to look down at him. He had that expectant look on his face, and a happy and peaceful grin a mile wide that I won't forget as long as I live. He raised his arm up in front of him almost at face level, pointed to his arm, and mouthed to me, "Chills! I got chills!"

No frills. No graphics. No monitors or drums or electric guitars. Just people. And the presence of God.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It Comes With A Side Of Ham.

A few weeks ago we all jumped in the car, drove 7 hours to my niece's wedding in Boone, and drove back home ON THE SAME DAY. Which is always fun for both parents and children. 14 hours in the car. With quietness in dress clothes in the middle to break up the trip.

Anyway, strangely, we enjoyed every moment of it. Our family was ready for some good uninterrupted quality time. And we got it. There were some moments where the kids were busying themselves with this and that, and we didn't pay much attention. When we got home, I began to upload some videos of the trip from my flip video. To my surprise (and great joy), the kids had been video-ing each other in the back of the car...talking, laughing, and singing along to the radio.

This one makes me laugh. Before you watch it, I need to tell you to feel free to stop watching after about a minute and a half. I think only a parent who loves a child dearly should have to sit through the whole thing.

A couple of my favorite things about it:
1. Notice Levi's signature move, visible only in the first second or two of the video.
2. Notice the growl from Levi at about 1:24 when Lily Kate steals his signature move.
3. Notice that Lily Kate assures us at the end of the video that her on-camera performance was not performed without her seat belt on. Safety first.
4. If you are still tuned in, listen for little brother's "is it almost over?" exasperation at 2:08. I personally think he is a pretty doggone good brother to keep that camera on his big sis for that long. If you could only see the tons of footage where she is making him video her singing and dancing. LONG SUFFERING, I tell you. Long suffering.

Lily Kate Singing in the Car from Travis Cottrell on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Random Thought of the Day

I know they say that a tomato is a fruit, but that just doesn't sit well with me.

Tomatoes sit well with me. But the fact that they are a fruit does not.

That's all I got today.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Crazy Day

Wednesday was Crazy Day at my two younger kids' school. Or, as we call it in our house, just another day.

Even though they are dressed all crazy, those last couple of pictures give me a lump in my throat. Walking off to the bus stop. All big and independent. Can they please stop it with the fast growing up?

Be still my heart.