Playlists and Truman


I love creating playlists on my iTunes. In fact, you can say I’m a little obsessed.

Last summer I got it into my head to create a playlist of every (worthy) song and score from all the Disney movies I enjoy from Snow White to Wreck It Ralph.

I also put together a playlist of all the songs referenced or sung in my favorite show, The Office. I even have one called “Old School Christian” which features a lot of Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Supertones…

One of my most recent playlists is called “Songs From Every John Hughes Movie.” Yes, I’m talking Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Farris Bueller’s Day Off, all those classic gems that encourage teenage rebellion and fighting The Man.

And now, I’m working on one which contains songs from every state, you know, in case we ever take another cross-country road trip. (“Alabama Pines” for Alabama; “Stephanie Says” for Alaska; “Blue Shadows (on the trail)” for Arizona, etc.) It’s a fun break from writing and editing.

But we keep playlists in our life, don’t we? We categorize things, compartmentalize, and corral certain events into certain areas of our heart. Some things we share with others, and some we keep secret. Some things we bring to God, and others we hoard.

A lot of times we’re embarrassed to talk to God about certain things because we feel like we’ve been so successful at hiding them from Him – keeping them locked away in our playlist of “Secret Things.”

Remember The Truman Show? You can keep your Paranormal Activity and Saw movies, because The Truman Show freaked me out enough. It convinced me that was Truman, and that everyone was plotting to keep the cameras a secret from me. And everything in my life, everything I did, was being recorded on camera for the world to see. 

Except when I did bad things.

Oh, because ironically, when I made conscious decisions to sin, the cameras would just happen to be broken – there would be a malfunction in the system, and so my sins were still kept secret from the world. And from God.

Convenient, huh?

But if I happened to feel particularly giving one day and I gave a taco to a homeless man (you have lots of chances to do that in California), the whole world was tuned in and God was giving me the big thumb’s up with a sparkle in that pearly-white smile.

Funny how we can deceive ourselves so much, isn’t it?

Even now, several years later, I have to catch myself and think, Wait a min. Nothing is kept from God – not even my innermost thoughts or intentions. 

With God, the cameras never turn off. And He knows every single song in my files of playlists.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13

Gladdest Noel

I’ve been posting the best unheard of Christmas songs. But this one deserves to have a post all its own. If for some reason, you’re unable to listen to this lyrical song by Evelyn Brush featured on the Christmas CD “Ring the Bells” I have taken it upon myself to write the lyrics out for you below the video.

In a lowly, lonely corner of a dark and dismal earth

What man once lost was found again - hope was given birth.

Calamitous our condition under judgment from the fall

‘Til the gladdest brightest Miracle came down to save us all.

He heard us crying in the night, dying in our sins

So in unblemished love, God slipped into our common skin.

And the Word became flesh and the greatest became least

And swaddling clothes were wrapped around Heaven’s highest Priest.

In teeny, tiny fingers, and teeny, tiny toes

Baby soft and sweet to kiss lay Sharon’s tender Rose.

Desire of all nations, spreading His rich perfume

As morning sheds her glory across the shimmering dew.

Oh, holy night! God of virgin born, prophecy fulfilled! Fathomless… alone.

But the serpent of Eden hissed heinously and groaned!

For the Savior had returned to claim back His rightful own.

The snake, he slid and slithered in reviling rant and rave

For men’s life was not his purpose… he was hellbent on their grave.

So, besniveling from the manger in green-eyed insanity, he crawled off to hew a rugged Cross

From just the perfect tree in search surpassing sinister, yet sovereignly allowed.

He also plucked the perfect thorns  for Rose of Sharon’s brow.

And in these things he had his way but only ’til the stain

Of Jesus’ blood had washed away our sins ’til none remained.

And the wrath of God was violent, and the terror cruel and raw

Not at all the thing we want to see while looking in the straw

At an Infant pure and innocent.

But we must reconcile with this Truth:

The price to set men free was held within this child,

The Lion of Judah, who died for us our death.

Whose throne can be our very hearts whose breath can be our breath

Whose Life can be our life for all eternity.

If we will but accept the gift He sent for you and me

Jesus is His name



Messiah, Deliverer, Emmanuel, Holy One of Israel!

The Prince of Peace!

Almighty Counselor!

Our sinless high Priest!

God of all gods!

Light of all light!

Joy in our sorrow, rest in our nights.

Blessed Redeemer.

Bright Morningstar!

Wonder of wonders,

What a wonder you are!

Comforter, Helper, faithful friend,

Promise keeper of Bethlehem.

King of all kings!

Lord of all lords!

Ancient of days!


Immortal, invisible, merciful One.

Forgiver of every vile thing we have done!

Righteous, victorious, our all in all.

And yet… His eye sees when a wee sparrow falls

And when are weak,

He is Strong.

And when we are wandering, His arms are long.

And when pain runs deep

His love’s deeper still.

If we will but ask Him, He’ll save us, He will.

Beautiful Savior!

Bethlehem’s bloom

Hope for the tiniest forms within the wombs!

Loving, kind rescuer of helpless man,

No one can steal us out of Your hands!



Gladdest Noel

Jesus is born

All is well!

Win a free autographed copy of my book, The Man in the Box. Click here for details.

The Best Christmas Songs You’ve Never Heard Part III


We’ve all heard “Winter Wonderland” and “Little Drummer Boy” thousands of times this Christmas alone. If you need some fresh new songs to play in the car that still capture the Christmas spirit, take a look at the list. They’re all available on iTunes.

Click here for PART I and Part II.

“The Bells of Christmas” by Loreena McKennit - Remember the movie where Tim Allen becomes Santa Claus? This song that plays while he sees the North Pole for the first time will definitely send Christmas shivers up your spine.

“How Many Kings” by Downhere - I really like this Christian group; their EP album is one of my favorites in the Christian genre. This Christmas song they put out a few years ago, is admittedly missing that “Christmas sound,” but the lyrics are certainly fitting for the season and very thought-provoking.

“Breath of Heaven (Mary’s song)” by Point of Grace - It’s not Christmas until I hear this little ditty I grew up with. I remember my mom playing it whenever we had a Christmas party at our house or while we just sat around drinking egg-nog and frosting our Christmas cookies.

“When a Child is Born” by Wilson Phillips - It’s got that old-school feeling, but still makes a little magic inside.

“A Strange Way to Save the World” by 4Him - Eat your heart out, Mark Lowry.

“One Quiet Moment” by GLAD - These guys, like First Call, are just awesome! Original Christmas songs, and powerful vocals that will rock your world.

“We Need a Little Christmas” by Glee - I don’t watch Glee, but select songs from their Christmas CDs are worth giving a listen to. This is one of them.

“Jesus Joy of the Highest Heaven (A Children’s Carol)” by Keith and Kristyn Getty- Sarabeth and I went to their Christmas concert last year, and I can’t recommend their whole CD enough. I wrote about it here.

“This is Christmas” by Plus One - Sarabeth plays this CD a lot during Christmas. It makes me think of our early years together, so naturally, I get very giddy inside.

“Glorious” by Melissa Etheridge- I heard this song on a Christmas episode of Parenthood. 

“In Like a Lion (Always Winter)” by Relient K - And what’s Christmas without a little Narnia 





The Best Christmas Songs You’ve Never Heard Part II


We’ve all heard “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Away in a Manger” a billion times. But have you heard these? Click here for Part I of this list, and check out the reader’s contributions in the comments as well.

“Tender Tennessee Christmas” by Amy Grant - This song might not be that uncommon as I’ve been seeing it on other Christmas albums, but I just discovered it this year, so maybe it could be new to you, too.

“Starlight” by First Call - This group is just rocking it with the uncommon Christmas songs. This one tugs at the heart, for sure.

“Christmas Without You” by OneRepublic - I think Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of OneRepublic is one of the best singers I’ve heard in most of my life. Would love it if these guys did an entire Christmas album. Heck, they can just release a new album every month, and I’d keep listening.

“Christmas Dreams” by Francesca Battistelli - This song says it all – no one’s ever too old to dream about Christmas. Heck, sometimes in the summer I’ll turn on a Christmas song just to feel warm and glad.

“We Need a Little Christmas” by AgesandAges - I’m pretty sure this is also a traditional song, but it’s a great rendition, and I’d love to hear it more than “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Share with us your favorite Christmas songs that we might not have ever heard before in the comments below!  



The Best Christmas Songs You’ve Never Heard Part I


We’ve all heard “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” and “Silent Night” a billion times. But have you ever heard these Christmas songs? Give these a listen and add them to your holiday-travel playlists for your trip over the river and through the woods. Then, please share your favorite Christmas songs that we might have never heard before so we can add it to our collections.

“An Evening in December” by First Call – This song is particularly special to me since my wife introduced it to me when we met. Apparently it’s been in their family for years. Just get your hankies out before listening to it, because it’s hard to have a dry eye by the end. In fact, the entire album by First Call (“An Evening in December vols. I & II”) is perfect for Christmas enjoyment.

Intro to “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” - Nostalgia for those who grew up watching this, and a fresh new treat for those unfortunates who haven’t seen this Disney masterpiece.

“Heaven Everywhere”, “Christmas Is”, “Marshmallow World” by Francesca Battistelli - This is one of the few CDs where I purchased the entire album. I haven’t heard much of Francesca Battistelli outside of this Christmas album, but I’ll definitely be visiting her other work throughout the year. 

“You’re Here” by Francesca Battistelli - This is sort of an alternative to “Mary Did You Know”, and I think it’s just a bit more intimate as it’s sung by Mary’s perspective and celebrating the fact that Jesus is finally here.

“Joy to the World” by Train - This is actually a pretty cool reimagining of the Christmas classic as they intertwine some of their own songs into the mix.

“Something in the Air” by Grayson Sanders and Jono - Apparently this was featured in a Coke commercial, but it’s great, nonetheless. #CokeBeatsPepsi!

I’ve got some more songs, so check back later in the day for an update.

And don’t forget to please share YOUR favorite Christmas songs we’ve never heard in the comments below!

Happy Music Part II

Jack Frost has made his appearance, at least here in Kentucky. It’s too early for me to listen to too much Christmas music at this point (I can only listen to so much this early), but I still need some pick-me-up songs as the trees all around us are dying and the skies grow grayer and the birds get quieter. So here’s another list of just plain happy songs that just put a smile on my face and a tap in my toes. Click here for Part I.

blessid union

“Miracles” by Blessid Union of Souls – Blessid Union of Souls is probably one of my all-time favorite bands. To me, nothing can top their album “Walking Off the Buzz” is one of the best CDs I’ve ever heard. This song, “Miracles” isn’t from that album, but from one of their newer ones, “The Mission Field,” where the lead singer reportedly has turned back to his spiritual roots. There’s no Youtube video for this song. Sorry.

“Dance in the Graveyards” by Delta Rae - So the plants are dying and the flowers are withering. Doesn’t mean we have to stop dancing! Enjoy this one from the rapidly star-rising band.

“Spread Too Thin” by The Dirty Heads - Got a lot on your plate? Are the holidays proving to be too much to take on? This little ditty from the Dirty Heads knows where you’re at.

“Rollerblades” by Eliza Doolittle - The sidewalks might be too icy to go out for a spin on our rollerblades, but that can’t stop you from at least singing about them.

“Don’t Stop” by Gin Wigmore - Someone out there loves you, and doesn’t want you to stop doing what you do. This little song is a good one to dance to with a loved one nearby.

Want to share some of your favorite happy songs? List them below, we’d love to heard them! Share the music!


Best Music Scores Part I


John Williams. Hans Zimmer. Danny Elfman. James Horner.

Soundtrack composers have been elevated to the status of celebrities and rock stars in their own right. Though most people might not know what John Williams looks like,  everyone, whether they know it or not, knows his music. If you ask someone who their favorite composer is, you’re likely to get Hans Zimmer as an answer.

But let’s be honest, sometimes it’s difficult sitting through an entire movie soundtrack because of all the ominous music when you’re not feeling very ominous, or majestic music when you’re not feeling very accomplished.

Or you see a movie and you think, Wow, that music is beautiful. But when you look at the track titles on the soundtrack, you have know idea which one that piece of music falls under.

Music scores inspire me, and they help jog my imagination before I sit down to write. Scores challenge me to make my fictional worlds bigger and more lively. Here’s a few soundtrack pieces from movies you might not have ever considered adding to your collection. It’s okay if you haven’t seen the movies, just take a listen to the scores and share some of your favorite movie scores with us in the comments below.

Aaron Zigman, “Into the Forrest” from Bridge to Terabithia: 

If you can’t handle highly emotional movies, stay away from this Disney/Walden Media flick. But the music composed here that takes the viewers and its characters from reality to the land of Terabithia is magical in its own right.

Basil Poledouris and Hans Zimmer, “Main Title” from White Fang:

When I was around eight years old my family and I took an Alaskan cruise. The theater onboard the ship played – appropriately - White Fang. And up until I found this score just a couple months ago, I remembered this haunting tune all those years, often humming it when I was alone or writing without music.

Brian Tyler, “Main Title Overture” from The Greatest Game Ever Played:

This is from a lesser known Disney movie (I know, all of these happen to be from Disney  which is actually coincidental), staring the kid from those Transformers movies. I highly recommend it if you’re like me and prefer slower, historical movies. But the theme here practically tells the story on its own, about victory in the face of adversity and hardship. A great listen if you’re feeling defeated.

Christophe Beck, “Paperman” from “Paperman”:

“Paperman” is a short cartoon put out by Disney which featured before Wreck-it-Ralph. It’s hard to admit, but this short film is better than all of Pixar’s shorts (coming close to the one with the magician and his rabbit: “Presto”). Never has a short made me feel so much emotion and made me root so hard for its protagonist. If you haven’t seen it, just Youtube Paperman. The score here is fresh, and very original.

Michael Gore, “Theme” from Terms of Endearment:

This movie made me fall in love with Shirley McLain’s acting. But the theme here is just as good as her performance. If you look for it on iTunes, punch in “Theme from Terms of Endearment by Cincinnati Pops Orchestra” – it’s a much better version than what Youtube has here.

Post your favorite scores below, even new takes on familiar scores are welcome!



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