Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bonding on Bains Gap

This was an email I sent out to some friends on December 16, 2010, explaining what happened the night before on Bains Gap Road, located near Anniston, AL.

Well, I've had quite the adventure yesterday and just want to thank those who helped out a few folks stranded on Bains Gap Road.

First, I would like you to know that the report I'm about to tell you is not fiction. I lived through it and it involves a magazine editor, a school nurse, a school bus driver, a school aide, an emergency room nurse, two school transportation workers, two Anniston police officers, a state trooper, two guys in a tow truck and a crew of county transportation workers, plus a host of AT&T cell phones which were useless and a few good Verizon cell phones with low batteries. 

Somewhere along the way a hunter was seen in our midst but he went back into the woods and was not seen again during this adventure on Bains Gap

On my usual trek across Bains Gap Rd to White Plains yesterday I had no worries. It was around 2:10 p.m. and on the top of the mountain, I pulled off the side of the road to talk on my cell phone. I hung up, waved to a Calhoun County Sheriff's Deputy car as he drove by, then watched as he slowly drove down the mountain. I pulled out to make my way down the mountain and immediately hit black ice. 

Now my mini-van endures quite a lot on a daily basis but when it hit that ice, the poor thing was sliding towards a guardrail. I happened to notice that on the other side of the guardrail was a rather steep incline that closely resembled a cliff. I really was not in the mood to die, so I turned the wheel of my mini-van to the left and decided the ditch was better than the cliff.

A few moments later, a big burly SUV drove up the mountain and attempted to pass me. The ice would not have it and so, the SUV slid back, slightly embracing my mini-van, then came to a halt.

It was at this point that I started to seriously hate AT&T. As I sat in my mini-van, in the ditch, my finger was tired of dialing the Anniston PD and getting no signal. So, I was lucky enough to have my son's cell phone with me, which is with Verizon. I dialed Lt. Stemen with the Anniston PD, my old buddy from the Crime Bulletin days, and he said that he would have a car sent our way. Meanwhile, I notice that the driver of the SUV, Allison, is a dear friend from high school and a nurse with the Calhoun County school system.

Allison and I notice a school bus coming up the mountain. The bus driver, Kim, stopped the bus when she realized that the SUV and I were not merely hanging out on the top of the mountain for the fun of it. Meanwhile, a truck came up the mountain and he didn't see the ice. His truck slide back and almost hit the bus. Then, he came to a halt. We later find out that the driver, Chris, was on his way to work at Stringfellow ER and he was pulling around the bus to see if we needed any help.

So, there were all were, on the top of Bains Gap Rd waiting on the Anniston PD. Then, cars started to show up and we had to get out and direct traffic. It occurred to me that Bains Gap Rd needed to be closed. So, I walked around in circles staring at my two cell phones until I had service on the Verizon phone. It was so cold that my eyelashes are frozen. I called Robin Scott with the McClellan Development Authority and told him that people were coming up Bains Gap Rd, we were all stuck and someone needed to close the road. He probably thought it was a prank call, but needless to say when I called my husband he said that he heard Bains Gap Rd was closed.

Long story short, the Anniston PD arrive but are not sure who has jurisdiction because it was US Fish & Wildlife owned property. And, as luck would have it, the local office had been shut down in recent months. They wait and wait and are finally told it is the state's jurisdiction. So, then we wait for the state trooper. 

We realize that we need sand. The Anniston PD are trying to find out how to get sand but are told that no one is sure who controls the road and if Fish & Wildlife will allow the Calhoun County road crew to get us sand. We sing Mr. Sandman while waiting on the school bus and all of the stranded passengers bond. We talk, we wait, and we dig into our purses for candy. We stare out of the window as it begins to sleet. Very hard, cold sleet. We laugh a little and then we begin to wonder why on earth no one is sending sand.

My Verizon cell phone battery is almost dead and my AT&T phone, like everyone else’s, is useless. Allison has a Verizon phone so I call Sherry Sumners, my dear friend at the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce. Trying not to laugh so she won't think I'm pranking her, I tell her that I'm stuck on the top of Bains Gap Rd and need sand. Could she possibly call someone to find out who controls the sand and who can get some to us?

The state trooper is now on the scene and he attempts to pass the school bus and the truck. He slides back. His car has now joined the group of cars stuck in black ice. He does his duty of filling out the accident report. He bonds a little with everyone on the bus and he leaves us to bond with the Anniston PD. My husband had called a tow truck and now they show up. They park behind the bus. They only slightly slide. Jason and Mr. Hammonds with Howell Body Shop now join the wait for the sand. 

Finally, we are told the sand is on its way but the truck couldn't make it up the mountain. Cause of ice on the road. We are beginning to wonder if perhaps we are part of a psychological experiment. From the warm school bus, we wait more, we eat more candy, we bond, and we watch Trooper Putman, the Anniston PD and the tow truck crew freeze in the elements.

The EMA is also keeping in touch to make sure that everyone is ok. At one point they called to tell us to stay on the bus and not go out in the cold weather. They ask if we need anything. We tell them sand. 

The Calhoun County transportation crew finally arrives. Their truck slides, pours sand, and slides some more. Conversations get a little heated, we hear, because the county does not wish to hand shovel sand. Cause it is sleeting and you can't wear a Snuggie and shovel sand. It's really cold!

We kind of feel bad when it's reported to us that the trooper tells the police that he will "take in" anyone from the crew who does not assist in hand shoveling sand. We are not sure what exactly happened but the sand truck puts more sand on the road and they are all working hard. Then, they run out of sand. The truck travels back down the mountain and comes back. Eventually the men are shoveling sand and are able to move the SUV and the truck belonging to the ER nurse. My mini-van sits alone and will be towed. I leave with Allison in her SUV. The school bus, the wrecker, and the trooper are still trying to figure out what to do.

Allison and I feel extremely guilty as we drive down the mountain, go through McClellan, back to Oxford and get something to eat through a drive-thru window. We feel as if we've deserted our new friends, the bus driver, the school aide, Howell Body Shop, Trooper Putnam and the road crew. We discover that Allison's husband, John, has called everyone trying to find out why no one can get us off the mountain. He tried to locate my husband so they could get on four-wheelers and drive up to Bains Gap Rd to get us. Bless his sweet country heart!

By the time we get home, it is almost 9 p.m. We still can't stop laughing because we were stuck on Bains Gap Rd for six hours. I'm just glad that my eyelashes have thawed.

So, through it all, I learned there still are knights in shining armor, or perhaps in this case, knights in four-wheelers. It also pays to keep cell phone numbers of people who get things done. On behalf of the Bains Gap Posse, I want to thank Sherry Sumners, Lt. Rocky Steman, Robin Scott, the Calhoun County sand crew, the Anniston PD, State Trooper Putman and Howell Body Shop. Also, Mr. Fincher with the Calhoun County school system who made sure to keep in touch via the bus cb and the EMA. 

I'll never forget my six hours on the school bus with my Bains Gap Posse: Kim and Melony, who normally transport a group of special needs children everyday and kept us all entertained by feeding us candy; Chris Smith, the ER nurse who would have saved us should we have needed medical aid; Kevin, who we renamed Ricky for some reason, who works for the school system as a mechanic and deserves credit for all the work he does to keep the school buses in top shape; Mr. Hammonds with Howell Body Shop who might want to consider a job in stand up comedy; Jason with Howell Body Shop who took action when everyone else was trying to figure out who was in charge and Allison, my dear sweet friend from high school who made sure that everyone laughed more than cried.

Note: I learned a few days later that a special meeting was called by the Calhoun County Commission and that Bains Gap Road can be monitored by the county. Also, Howell Body Shop had to tow my van and had to pull the county truck out of the ice.

Hug someone you love today!
Blessings,
Theresa

 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sandi Patty opens up about her life in new book, album


Sandi Patty

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
November 4, 2010

Looking over the edge of a cliff is sure to make even the most adventurous person nervous. But for Sandi Patty, it’s a chance to see the divine.

“Living on the edge isn’t always the most comfortable existence, but it’s a place where we tend to do more looking around for help, which, for Christians, means looking for God,” Patty said.

In her new book, “The Edge of the Divine,” Patty reveals how she looked for and found help in dealing with both internal and external struggles through her relationship with Christ.

Her first original album in seven years bears the same name, and both projects are very personal in nature, offering an insight into why the Dove and Grammy Award winner took the bold step of having lap-band surgery Aug. 26, 2008.

One of the most difficult challenges in the post-surgery process was changing her focus on food. Breaking up is hard to do, Patty admitted, so she wrote a breakup letter to food, which she shares in her book.

“I’d seen that overeating is more about what’s happening in my head than in my stomach,” she said.

The surgery didn’t come without risks either. A year after the lap-band surgery, Patty had an anxiety attack. With the help of her doctors, she realized she had to take special care when on tour.

Having the surgery was not easy, Patty admitted. She has lost between 75 and 80 pounds and said she would like to lose 10 more pounds. But to tackle the external issue of being overweight, she had to face serious internal issues.

“I kept coming back to that point of realizing weight loss is an inside job,” Patty said. “Jesus didn’t go through (His) ordeal so that we could merely survive. He said He did it so we could have life and that we might have it more abundantly.”

So the surgery was only part of Patty’s journey, as she had to come to terms with a dark secret and the reality of forgiveness. When she was 6 years old, she was sexually abused by a female friend of her family.

“She did not hurt me, but she touched me in ways that traumatized me,” Patty said.

The daughter of a minister of music, Patty’s family often went on tour singing at various churches around the nation. The abuse happened when she was left in the care of a trusted family friend, as her parents were on tour. When they returned, she kept silent about the abuse and buried the memories until adulthood.

Patty wasn’t hindered by the abuse in regard to her music. Her life was fairly normal, and she joined her family on tour and crafted her singing ability. Then, when she was 18 years old, she discovered the “perfect” role and auditioned for The Kids of the Kingdom singing and dance team at the Disneyland Resort in her home state of California. Confident from her audition, she called the office a few weeks later after not hearing anything. She was devastated to learn that they loved her voice but felt she was too heavy.

But Patty was not about to let the rejection stop her. She enrolled at Anderson University in Indiana and eventually joined Bill and Gloria Gaither on tour. Her voice and name would become one of the most recognizable in Christian music with songs like “We Shall Behold Him.”

Patty also married, had four children and continued to focus on her music. Everything seemed to be perfect. But her marriage to John Helvering was literally falling apart. Crisis would follow when she admitted an adulterous relationship during her marriage, and the backlash from Christian radio stations and fans was harsh.

In the turmoil, Patty fell in love. “Before the court finalized the divorce (from Helvering), I fell in love with Don Peslis, a handsome, talented singer who performed with my backup group during national concert tours,” she said. They married in August 1995.

In the book, her music and her conversations, Patty is open and frank about her struggles with weight and relationships. She said her current projects and journey have helped her to see the first step in change is forgiveness, the second step is preparation for change and the importance of truth shouldn’t be ignored.

Patty said forgiveness was the key to healing in all aspects of her life. “I think that in order to really make a change you have to really forgive yourself and (others),” she said. “You have to unearth some not-so-pretty chapters in your life story and come to peace with some very difficult ones. I really do believe in my favorite verse, John 8:31–32, “and the truth will set you free.”

Looking back is not something Patty does. She continues to do the one thing that honors God and brings Him glory — sing.

“For so many years, I really didn’t know how to be verbal,” Patty said. “I would find that I would be drawn to those songs that would say what I wish I could say. For so long, the songs were my heart. They still very much are, but I’m learning to use my words.”

For more information, visit http://www.sandipatty.com/.




Friday, October 15, 2010

MercyMe’s latest album brings fictional character to life

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
Published May 27, 2010

It’s not every day that a fictional character comes to life. But through MercyMe’s latest release, “The Generous Mr. Lovewell,” one does just that.

About a year ago, lead vocalist Bart Millard had the idea to create a character and use it as a way to promote a “pay-it-forward” and Christlike mentality. So he had a concept for the character, Mr. Lovewell, but nothing else. Millard said after a trip to the Dominican Republic to visit a child the band sponsors, the songs on the album began to take form.

Millard said joining the fictional character concept and the message of love was not very difficult once the band sat down to write everything. “We wanted a creative way to influence. It’s about knowing your neighbor enough to know their needs and those type things,” he said of the album concept. “(Loving people) is really not asking a ton from people, but it’s a big task that’s worth it.”

And loving people is the message of all the songs, said Jim Bryson, MercyMe keyboardist. “It’s pay it forward but based around the cross. It can be simply mowing the yard of an elderly neighbor or buy someone’s meal,” he said. “You can leave a note with a Bible verse or tell them why you are doing it.”

There are even “Mr. Lovewell was here” business cards available at www.mrlovewell.com. Mr. Lovewell also can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/mrlovewell), offering real-life advice about how to “pay it forward” and love people in Christ’s name.

On both Twitter and the website, the band members hope people will share the good deeds that Mr. Lovewell has done either through them or for them. “We are just trying to create conversations,” Millard said of using the website and Twitter.

Characters and good deeds aside, the new album also has a different sound than previous works by MercyMe. While this album has the usual worship-style songs that the band is known for, it also has songs that are more upbeat. Millard said the band wanted to get out of its comfort zone a little with the sound of the music, so it brought in Dan Muckala, an award-winning producer whose resume includes working with CeCe Winans, newsboys and Backstreet Boys. What resulted are songs that reflect the personality of the band members.

While all the songs have a serious message about Christ, loving others and living a Christ-filled life, not all of them are slow melodies. Some of that is intentional. Bryson said when MercyMe debuted its first album “Almost There” in 2001, the members were still trying to figure out who they were as men and musicians.

With Bryson on keyboards and Millard singing lead vocals, the two started playing together in June 1994, when they traveled to Switzerland to lead worship for a camp. When they returned home, they decided to pursue music as a full-time ministry.

A hometown friend, Mike Scheuchzer, joined the band as guitarist, and the three of them returned to the camp the following year officially as MercyMe. Nathan Cochran (bass), Robby Shaffer (drums) and Barry Graul (guitar) later joined the group. MercyMe eventually signed with INO Records and released their first album in 2001, which included the song “I Can Only Imagine.”

So with this project, they felt the freedom to play around and not be limited to one sound. “The longer you do music, the more you learn how to put your personality in the music,” Bryson said. “We do this for the love of music, and today I’m more patient and I know more than I knew even eight years ago.”

Also on this album is probably one of the shortest songs the band has recorded. At one minute and 36 seconds, the last song on the album, “This So Called Life,” is a dramatic song that speaks of good deeds without Jesus being completely in vain.

Millard said he wrote the songs’ lyric first as poems and then the band worked on the music so they didn’t really think about how long, or short, the songs were going to be. He simply felt as if everything that needed to be said had been said in this case.

“I think the success of the decent songwriter is showing restraint,” he said, noting “This So Called Life” is everything he wanted to say. “It’s very powerful. I hope it keeps people coming back for more.” Already it seems people are listening to the music and the message.

“The Generous Mr. Lovewell” has given MercyMe their highest debut on both the secular and Christian charts. It’s No. 3 in the nation on Billboard’s Top 200; No. 1 on the overall Contemporary Christian chart; No. 1 selling record at LifeWay Christian Stores; and No. 1 iTunes Christian album. Both Millard and Bryson said they are excited about the success but stress the mission of the band is the same today as when they founded it 16 years ago — for people to know Christ.

Copyright The Alabama Baptist 2010.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Serious and lighthearted: Overheard at Atlanta's Women of Faith conference

By Theresa Shadrix
Consolidated News Service
The Anniston Star
September 5, 2009

ATLANTA — Some 9,000 women converged on Philips Arena here last weekend to laugh, cry and be inspired. They left the laundry, the chores, work, football games, family and to-do lists at home to attend the Women of Faith conference Aug. 28-29.

Women of Faith is a non-denominational organization that hosts events and publishes books and other resources for Christian women. With a rotating roster of Christian speakers and musicians, Women of Faith will tour 28 cities in the United States in 2009. The Atlanta event was the 17th stop on the tour, and the 11th time Atlanta has hosted a conference.

Steve Arterburn, author of Every Man's Battle and founder of the Christian counseling ministry New Life, organized Women of Faith in 1996. In 2000, Thomas Nelson Inc. purchased the organization. In 2005, the organization added The Revolve Tour for teen girls.

Arterburn is still heavily involved in Women of Faith and is one of the guest speakers this year. Also on the lineup are musicians Sandi Patty and Steven Curtis Chapman. Other speakers and musicians in Atlanta included:

• Marilyn Meberg, author and counselor.
• Sheila Walsh, author (including children's books), speaker, singer.
• Lisa Whelchel, former Facts of Life child star, now founder of MomTime Ministries.
• Luci Swindoll, sister of minister Chuck Swindoll, former corporate exec, art lover.
• Patsy Clairmont, author and speaker.
• Mandisa, fifth-season finalist on American Idol, now Grammy-nominated artist.

The issues raised by some of the speakers were deep and dark: abortion, guilt, adultery, childhood molestation, alcoholism, inappropriate friendships, temptations. But it was leavened with humor. Good Morning America comedian Anita Renfroe belted her YouTube sensation "MomSense." Clairmont, Meberg, Patty, Walsh and Whelchel all shared emotional stories but made them easier to handle with a dash of humor.

Below is a collection of overheard comments from conference speakers and attendees. They also mix the serious with the lighthearted.

"I didn't win, but the message of Jesus Christ was aired by the producers."
— Mandisa on her American Idol experience, which included telling Simon Cowell she forgave him after his negative comments about her weight.

"Mandisa changed my life. I'm going to lose this weight."
— Woman to a friend while waiting in line to use the restroom.

"All the men's restrooms have been converted to women's. Except one."
— Anna Trent, daughter of Sandi Patty and Friday emcee.

"As humans, we internally fuss with ourselves and we need to claim forgiveness."
— Marilyn Meberg

"All abuse makes us feel worthless. One fourth of women have been molested."
— Marilyn Meberg

"God is in charge of all things."
— Marilyn Meberg

"I think I'm going to faint."
— Self-admitted Women of Faith "junkie," as Patsy Clairmont passed her in the hallway.

"The real impact of ministry is you."
— Women of Faith president Mary Graham, when presenting information about the group's partnership with the World Vision children's organization.

"Hot flashes are my inner child playing with matches."
— Anita Renfroe

"I'm not defined by failure."
— Steve Arterburn, after sharing he started a conference one year before Women of Faith that only attracted 1,000 attendees in 12 cities.

"Some people spend a lot of time avoiding pain. Not all pain is harmful."
— Steve Arterburn

"It's a myth that we shouldn't look back. We learn from experiences."
— Steve Arterburn

"This is just the tuning of the orchestra until we go home."
— Sheila Walsh on the difference between earth and heaven.

"Forgiveness is God's gift to us in a world that is not fair."
— Sheila Walsh, after sharing a story about forgiving her husband after poor financial choices emptied their savings, retirement and banking accounts.

Copyright 2010 Anniston Star. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writing about home

Here is my latest offering at the Southern Authors Blog

My home's in Alabama by Theresa Shadrix
Kathryn Tucker Windham, Scarey Ann and Theresa Shadrix at the 2009 Alabama Book Festival.

With the latest issue of Longleaf Style magazine focusing on roots, even a Bubba could figure out why I’ve been thinking so much about home and the South. In the summer issue, we have Rick Bragg’s “Why I write about home”, Diane McWhorter wrote about Birmingham and the civil rights and Nathalee Dupree gives a tasty ode to Southern cooking. To think about anything other than the South would a downright shame after reading it.

Truth be known, I used to feel somewhat like a carpetbagger. Yes, I was born in the South and I’ve lived in the South for over two decades. But, my childhood memories of the South are slim, thanks to my mother’s second marriage to an Army man. (Vincent O’Neil, I so understand your post!)

With two separate tours in Germany, I was a bonified cultured girl. I toured castles and camped under the stars in Munich. I shopped stores downtown markets. I bought fresh pretzels from street vendors. I never went to church and didn’t know one single thing about VBS, GA’s, or Sunday School. I learned to play soccer with kids who couldn’t speak English. I listened to Oingo Boingo, Led Zeppelin and Generation X. I got my ears pierced in Frankfurt. I read C.S. Lewis and Trixie Beldon.

I was in the 9th grade when my family returned to the South and made our home in Alabama. I couldn’t have been more out of touch with Southern reality as I was then. In the mid-80s, I was a European-inspired fashionista who talked funny. My “oil” rhymed with boil and I had not grasped the concept that anything that came before “bless your heart” was probably an insult in sweet disguise. I didn’t eat biscuits or grits or lard in my green beans. I had never seen the Andy Griffith Show. I was really quite pitiful.

But, I’ve come a long way. I married a born-and-bred Southern boy almost 18 years ago. I live in the country and drive by pastures with grazing cows every day o my way to work. I can make biscuits from scratch, prefer creamed potatoes to rice, can’t stand to eat those five minute boxed grits and green beans are not cooked unless seasoned with a touch of lard. I reference tweezers to Barney and hunting tigers. I love my relationship with Jesus Christ more than I love fried okra and home-grown tomatoes. I also prefer to listen to Rick & Bubba than Larry the Cable Guy because they are real good ol’ boys. Speaking of which, I’m not scared of rednecks, overalls, trucks or camo shorts. I can’t wear white to before Easter, even if they do in New York. I don’t flinch if I see a Memaw put a pinch of chewing tobacco in her mouth after supper. And, for Heaven’s sake, I capitalize “South”.

And, I love Southern authors! As an editor, no writer has influenced me more than Kathryn Tucker Windham because she was one of the first “girl reporters” in Alabama. And, she has a mess of talent even at 91 and she really, really loves the South.

At the Alabama Book Festival, she told the crowd that something was wrong with people who put sugar in cornbread. She was serious too. She cried when I gave her a "Scarey Ann" doll that I found online. If you don't know why "Scarey Ann" means so much to her, well, read her latest book "Spit, Scarey Ann & Sweat Bees."

I really love to recommend Southern authors to my friend’s cause there is nothing like telling someone, “”One Mississippi” by Mark Childress will leave you feeling a little beside yourself but just remember that not everyone down here is crazy. He just wrote it that way for fun.”

Most recently, I recommended Cassandra King’s “Sunday Wife” to a northern writer friend, who is also a pastor’s wife. I also told one friend, who suffered minor headaches, to read “Ray in Reverse” by Daniel Wallace and she said she had to think so much that it cured her. (I’ve also learned to embrace my sense of humor, which, I think, comes from walking barefoot in red clay in Alabama.) The only books by northerners I recommend are “Life with Father” by Clarence Day, Jr., who died in 1935, and anything by Erma Bombeck.

My list of authors who influence, entertain and, sometimes, warp me is very long. I bet it will continue to grow. I like reading Southern authors because they make me feel at home. I may have lived for a few years in another country but I wouldn’t live anywhere else than in Alabama. I think it’s because the South has a way of wrapping her arms around you and squeezing the city right out of you. Bless all our hearts.

Theresa Shadrix is the managing editor of Longleaf Style magazine. Her first book “Naked before God” is in the Lord’s hands, on her agent’s mind and hopefully soon will be in a publisher’s heart.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mandisa: True freedom found in God

Mandisa's new album "Freedom" comes out March 24, 2009 and it is filled with both up-beat songs as well as emotional and reflective ones. I had a chance to talk to her this week about this album and what is going on in her life. I posted the article on The Christian Post but here it is:

Mandisa: True freedom found in God
By Theresa Shadrix

Gospel performer Mandisa defines herself not by the world’s standards, but God’s, and said she has finally discovered what freedom means. Her sophomore album “Freedom”, available on March 24, is a testimony to her struggles with food and deliverance from her addiction. After five weeks, the first single, “My Deliverer” is number 16 on Billboard’s Christian Adult Contemporary chart. “Lose my Soul”, her collaboration with Toby Mac and Kirk Franklin is at number eight.
“I used to think freedom was the fact that I’m free to do anything I want to do,” she said via telephone from her home in Tenn. “True freedom is doing what I want to do within the boundaries of God.”
The Grammy and Dove Award nominee had a goal to lose 100 pounds before the March release of “Freedom”. “I’ve lost 80 pounds,” she proudly admits.
In order to lose the weight, she had to change not only the way she eats, but she had to dig deeper into the word of God. “The more time we spend with God the more we are chiseled into the image of His son,” she said. “We need to reflect the glory of God.”
Mandisa hit the national scene as a contestant in the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. Her powerhouse voice garnered her loyal fans, but judge Simon Cowell brought up her weight with such comments as needing a bigger stage. Mandisa said his comments hurt, but she credits Simon with helping her learn how to forgive.
“I’ve just learned based on the word of God, that we should forgive because all that God has forgiven us for.” This is exactly what she told Cowell during the show and he apologized for his comments. She said she forgave for herself though. “I’ve learned that forgiveness is as much for the person. Simon would have gone the rest of his life not thinking about anything he said. I would have gone on and let a bitter root set in me,” she said. “I forgave him for me. As soon as you realize that you are holding on to anger, then forgive.”
Although she finished ninth on American Idol, she has found success as a solo performer in Contemporary Christian music. In 2007 she debuted “True Beauty”, the highest chart entry for a debut artist in Sparrow Records history and the only female soloist to hit number one in the 27-year history of Billboard Christian Retail charts. In 2008, “True Beauty” was nominated for Grammy’s “Best pop/Contemporary Gospel Album” and she was nominated for the Gospel Music Association Dove Award for “Female Vocalist of the Year” and “New Artist of the Year”.
She said last year’s nominations were a total surprise but she really didn’t expect her Dove Award nomination this year for “Female Vocalist of the Year”, which will air April 23 on the Gospel Music Channel at 8 p.m. EST. Among the nominees are Francesca Battistelli, Brooke Fraser, Karen Peck Gooch, Natalie Grant, Sandi Patty and Laura Story. “I don’t allow awards to define my success because I really want to let the fruit and the message speak,” she said. “But, these are saying you are on the right track.”
Mandisa is humble about all of her success and credits her relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost. The Calif. native said one of the songs on the “Freedom” album, “Not Guilty” speaks to the message of grace from Christ. “We are given the verdict of not guilty. It is not by our works but it is the grace of Jesus Christ.”
For now, the 32-year-old said she is trying to stay focused on singing about this message of grace and freedom found in a relationship with Christ. “God has given us freedom over anything that will hold us captive.”
Copyright Theresa Shadrix.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Warm Springs, where a president 'let it all hang out'

I wrote this story in 2007, but you can see some braces made by Marion Dunn for yourself. On Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 from 10 AM - 2 PM, Dunn's tools and several types of orthotics he made while employed at the Polio Foundation will be on display at Roosevelt's Little White House, 401 Little White House Road, Warm Springs, GA.

By Theresa Shadrix
The Anniston Star(AL)
Originally published: February 17, 2007

Marion Dunn was only 17 when he met President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

A certified prosthetic and orthopedic technician, Dunn made the braces that FDR wore on his polio-stricken legs. Dunn was - and still is - a frequent visitor to the Little White House, Roosevelt's favorite retreat for relaxation and polio treatment in Warm Springs, Ga., located about 60 miles southwest of Atlanta.

"He joked and played around with employees," Dunn recalls. "There was one time FDR dunked a boy in the water and then roared back with a big belly laugh. He had a great laugh."

Dunn, who often brings homemade pies to the staff at the Little White House museum, says Warm Springs gave Roosevelt a chance to be himself outside the scrutiny of politics, the public and the press.

Roosevelt was infected with the polio virus in 1921 (although a study in 2003 said he may have had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a different neurological disease). He was paralyzed from the waist down and doctors said he would never walk again. (The polio vaccine would not come around until 1955.)

His relationship with Warm Springs began when he visited the area in 1924. At the suggestion of close friend and Georgia native George Foster Peabody, Roosevelt - at the time he had left politics to practice law in New York - traveled to Warm Springs because Peabody believed its warm swimming pools might help him. When in the pools, filled with natural mineral water from Pine Mountain springs that stayed at a constant 88 degrees, patients felt recharged and some, like Roosevelt, were able to freely walk about in the swimming pools.

But Warm Springs was not designed as a treatment center. From the 1890s until the 1920s, it was a place for the wealthy to relax. The Meriwether Inn, located on the property, was capable of housing 300 guests and keeping them entertained with a bowling alley, tennis court, trap shooting and swimming pools, among other amenities.

Roosevelt invested $195,000 of his personal fortune to buy 12,000 acres in Warm Springs and to rebuild the resort and make it a place that offered polio treatment. The land deal included the Meriwether Inn, cottages, swimming pools and the land on which he built the Little White House.

With Peabody and others, Roosevelt formed the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation (now the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation), a center for treatment of polio. He consulted physicians and scientists on rehabilitation and worked with architects on the design of a new pool complex, which featured indoor and exercise pools.

Since there was no cure for polio at the time and patients were quarantined, Warm Springs and Roosevelt's foundation offered polio patients what they could not get in modern medicine - relief, acceptance and seclusion.

But Roosevelt's hope of restoring Warm Springs to a resort failed as the president learned firsthand the fear felt by people in regard to polio. The misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about polio kept visitors away because they believed swimming in the public pools would infect them with polio.

But it didn't prevent Roosevelt from visiting it often, and it was there that he died.

The last image
One of the most treasured pieces at the museum is the unfinished portrait of Roosevelt. It was on April 12, 1945, during a sitting for the painting that Roosevelt collapsed in the tiny living room at the Little White House. He was carried to his bedroom and pronounced dead at 3:35 p.m. His body was then taken to Washington, D.C. for a state funeral and Roosevelt was buried at Hyde Park, N.Y.

Greg Morrow says the room that holds the original portrait was designed by him and Burke. The room is equipped with lighting to preserve the painting for future generations.

It was at Warm Springs that Roosevelt found a purpose in life far beyond politics. His reputation before 1921 was that of a stoic, somewhat aloof aristocrat, but some would say that the small Georgia town warmed his personality as well. In his car, specially equipped with hand controls, Roosevelt traveled the country roads around Warm Springs and stopped to picnic or talk to people along the way, Dunn says.

"Roosevelt's experience in Georgia influenced him philosophically and politically," Burke says. "I hope everyone walks away with something positive."

"His programs and the things he did for rural people had me in awe of working at a presidential site," Morrow says. "They say when he came down here, he didn't realize how people in rural areas lived and it opened his eyes and it was what inspired him to begin all the social programs. Those programs started in Warm Springs."

Warm Springs actors bring history to life

This was the sidebar to a story I wrote about Roosevelt's Little White House in Warm Springs, GA in 2007.

By Theresa Shadrix
Anniston Star, The (AL)
Published: February 17, 2007

As the wind blows through the trees, Tom Wentland and Nancy Simko relax on the porch. Wentland adjusts his wheelchair while Simko focuses on the knitting project in her lap. Then Wentland spots an approaching visitor.

"Hi there, young man, and what is your name?" he asks. Shy and doubtful, the young boy is not sure if what he is seeing is real. He looks up to his mother for assurance and walks toward Wentland.

"So, do you have any questions for the president?" Wentland asks in a deep voice.

"Uh, no, sir." the boy replies, as he quickly makes his way to the door that leads back into the house.

Wentland is used to such perplexed responses from young visitors. After all, it is not every day one meets the 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), especially since he died in 1944.

History comes to life on special occasions in Warm Springs, Ga., at the Little White House, getaway home of the former president. The porch is the stage for Wentland as he portrays FDR and for Simko as first lady Eleanor.

For Wentland, it has been a 16-year engagement and along the way he has gathered a lot of information about the only president to be elected four times. It's a commitment that he takes very seriously and one he says leaves him humble at the end of the day.

"It is an incredible honor to be able to step into his skin and make him seem alive, like to make people understand what that time was like, what our country was going through with the Depression," says Wentland.

"Some days you feel like cardboard cutouts," says Wentland. "Then there are some days here when ... well, they are humbling."

Wentland finds it difficult to finish his sentence but Simko looks up from her knitting.

"People thank him. We have had World War II veterans thank us," she says. "These moments are precious."

History to life

Wentland and Simko appear as FDR and Eleanor on special dates at the Little White House:

· Jan. 30 - FDR's birthday.

· March 17 - FDR and Eleanor's wedding anniversary.

· Oct. 11 - Eleanor's birthday.


Copyright, 2007, The Anniston Star, Consolidated Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sacred Encounters: from Rome to Jerusalem


If you are looking for a great book to read, I recommend Sacred Encounters: from Rome to Jerusalem by Tamara Park.

"Tamara Park signifies all that is good about the Christian pilgrimage. Her honesty and openness in Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem allow for a true spiritual journey in finding God. She is a contemporary pilgrim with a fresh journey to the living, breathing Yahweh."
Theresa Shadrix

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chris Tomlin: 'All about love'

Chris Tomlin shares about worship, church plant
The Alabama Baptist
Thursday, November 13, 2008
By Theresa Shadrix






From the moment Chris Tomlin received a guitar from his dad when he was around 11 or 12, he has used music to worship and praise God.

He wrote his first song, "Praise the Lord," when he was 14 but said he can't recall it and confessed his first songs were "not any good."

Now 36, the Texas native has written some of the most sung contemporary worship songs in church today, such as "Indescribable," "How Great Is Our God" and "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)."

Looking back on his career, he can see the way God orchestrated his music. "I really didn't go knocking on people's doors. God really opened the doors. He did it the whole way through."

Awarded male vocalist of the year at the Gospel Music Awards in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and artist of the year in 2007 and 2008, Tomlin is sometimes overwhelmed to see people in authentic worship with songs he has written.

In a recent telephone interview from his apartment in Atlanta, he expressed humility for all the attention and laughs off comparisons to Psalmist David.

"I spend most of my time ripping [David] off," Tomlin joked. "I don't consider myself [a modern-day David], but it is my heart to write. I do feel a sort of mandate from God to help people express."

Tomlin believes people are created to worship God, and he has always felt a calling to lead Christians in worship. He credits his parents with helping him fulfill that calling.

When he wanted to cut a demo just out of high school, his father, who taught him how to play the guitar, gave him the money.

"He really believed in me," he said.

But although his father and mother believed in his gift of music, they also wanted him to go to college. Tomlin respected their wishes and finished with a degree in psychology from Texas A& University in College Station.

"I remember getting the 'dad talk' about getting a real job. That wasn't me," he said. "I did finish my degree but by the time I was in college, [God] was already opening the door."

It was during his college years that Tomlin met Louie Giglio, Passion founder, and started a union with the first Passion concert in 1997 that is still thriving today.

Now just off the first Passion world tour, Tomlin, Giglio and Matt Redman, author of other widely sung worship songs and Passion regular, are planning to plant a new church in Atlanta.

"This is something we have been looking toward for five years," Tomlin explained.

Although he sold his house in Texas and is "settling in" as a new Atlantan, Tomlin is excited about what will happen with the new church and being surrounded by people he loves.

To Tomlin, love is not just about friendships and partnerships in ministry it is also the focus of his seventh album, "Hello Love," which was the highest Christian album to debut on iTunes and peaked at No. 9 at Billboards Top 200 after its release in September.

"The heart of worship is a love relationship with God. Part of our relationship with God is how we love each other," he said.

One way to do that is through Passion's initiative, www.onemillioncan.com.

So far $266,169.25 has been given for work such as providing clean water in Africa, ministering to sex slaves in India and offering life-altering surgeries for children.

Love to Tomlin is a reflection of the heart and he said he encourages Christians to seek out ways to love others.

"When you get down to the nitty gritty and the heart of relationships in life, it is all about love."

For more information about Tomlin, visit www.christomlin.com. To gather more information about Passion, visit www.268generation.com.