Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gigi's here!

Mom arrived yesterday. After an 11 hour trip through the UP and Wisconsin, she arrived yesterday in time for dinner. It will be fun to have her here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The "Relevance" of the Gospel

One thing that frustrates Amanda and me about some of Evangelicalism today is the death of anything that is not "relevant". Hymns, senior citizens, tradition, scripture and even at times, the Gospel have all been killed on the alter of "RELEVANCE". I have often thought in the conversations about making one's faith relevant to the world, "Isn't Jesus Christ sent to die on a cross for the forgiveness of my sins so that I might have right relationship with God RELEVANT?" Check out the video below of our pastor, John Piper speaking about the relevance of the Gospel.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Great Minnesota Get-together

Minnesota is an interesting place. People who live here, especially people who have been born and raised here, are VERY proud of their state. This comes out in things like celebration of their Scandinavian heritage, celebration of their "educatedness", love of the University of Minnesota (Aren't they the team that everyone looks forward to playing during the Big Ten season?), and many other points of pride. This pride comes out no more than during the twelve days before Labor Day every year--The Minnesota State Fair. I have never been to any other state fairs, but I cannot imagine that anything is like this. Every television and radio station has a booth there and they all broadcast live there every day of the fair. It is held at the state fair grounds which is approximately 10 city blocks between Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was a ton of fun and quite a spectacle. They see over 1 million people in the twelve days.

The boys loved doing the sky ride (gondola), the Giant Slide, and eating the fair food. Matty especially enjoyed his pronto pup (corn dog) and licked the bowl of french fries clean. We looked at all of the animals in the barns. Matthew really liked this. MOOOO, NEIGH! The boys rode the motorcycle ride and a little roller coaster. They loved them and it was so much fun to watch. All in all, it was a great day and a tiring day. Matty even cashed out on our way home, mid-cookie.

We are hoping to make a return trip on Saturday without the boys. Shube (Amanda's mom) plays the piano for a gospel quartet and they are singing at one of the stages. My mom is coming from Michigan this week too, so she will join us. I am hoping to load up on some more fair food. I saw on the news yesterday that Famous Dave's sells Kool-aid Pickles. They are large dill pickles soaked for two weeks in black cherry Kool-aid. They said that they were quite good. I think I'll pass.

You can check out the rest of our fair pictures here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More of litte James

Brad and Sarah are home from the hospital now and working to settle in to their new life. Amanda said that she talked on the phone with Brad for a while yesterday and it was fun to hear him be so excited about James. He said that he like when James looks at him all cross-eyed. We are going to get to see them again this weekend. It will be great to get to know this little character.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Over the Rhine album out tomorrow

It sounds like Karin and Linford have come through for us again. Over the Rhine is to release their new album The Trumpet Child tomorrow. This is their 18th album and 10th studio album (as I count them.) I have listened to a few of the tracks and they definitely sound like OTR. It is not the Over the Rhine of Ohio or Good Dog, Bad Dog. It actually reminds me of their latest Christmas album Snow Angels. Like the current images on their web site for the album, the music also reminds me of the 1920's or 30's.

The tracks that stuck out to me in my brief few listens were "I Don't Want to Waste Your Time", "Trouble", and "Entertaining Thoughts". I am excited to get my paws on the album tomorrow and dig in.

For those of you West Michigan readers, they will be doing a show at Calvin College on December 12. (Ticket info) It's been too long since we've seen them live. Unfortunately it looks like a Twin Cities stop is not on this tour either.

Click the image at left to listen to The Trumpet Child.

Feist--The Reminder

Here is another unsolicited music recommendation. I have been listening to a little Feist this morning. She is a Canadian singer/song-writer. I really like her a lot. She is not your typical "James Taylor, Fire and Rain" singer/song-writer. She does some very interesting things with this record. Go to Napster and give her a free listen.

Welcome James Crawford Nagel

Yesterday, James Crawford Nagel entered the world. We went up to the hospital yesterday to visit him and Brad and Sarah, the proud parents. He is our first Nagel cousin and we are all excited to have him.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Music for your soul

When was the last time that you heard that good old-fashioned four part Southern Gospel harmony? For me, it had been too long. Last week, providentially I came across The Cathedrals. I had heard of them before. I had seen George Younce (the guy on the left with the sweet pink jacket) with the Gaither Homecoming people on tv and also once live in Grand Rapids. I have been listening to The Cathedrals Southern Gospel Treasury on Napster. (It's not the old Napster that was illegal. It's the new Napster. You can listen to any album for free for a limited number of times. Check it out.)

I am not a huge Souther Gospel fan. But from time to time, I go there. I grew up hearing different configurations of Ripley Blvd. Baptist and Word of Life Baptist quartets. They were fun to listen to and hold some great memories. I believe that my dad even made a few appearances in the ever changing line up. I knew that I had really arrived when I even got an invitation to "sing melody" in the quartet one year. So if you're looking for some great music (Carrie, tell Joe to listen to this.) check out The Cathedrals.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Free HD television?

Amanda and I have entered the world of 21st century television. The TV that we had, had not been working well for a while. We couldn't get the network stations in very well. We haven't had cable since we left the residence hall (where it was free). So on Saturday we went to Costco and purchased a 26" lcd TV.

I had done some research and found out that you can get digital and HD program just from an antenna. The picture really is amazing. The cool part is that many stations not only carry their normal programming on their digital channels, but they also have other programming as well. For instance, our PBS station (channel 2) has an all HD station (channel 2.2) and another PBS station (channel 17) also has an all kids channel (channel 17.3) and PBS create, kind of like HGTV (channel 17.4). So with the investment of $70.00 for a decent antenna (We settled on the Terk HDTVa), we have approximately 20 channels. It rules!

So if you are thinking you need a new TV or if you are sick of paying through the nose for cable or satellite, check this out. To see what the programming in your area would be like, you can go to AntennaWeb. It will ask you your address and then tell you the stations that you could pick up. It will even give you a map and tell you which way to point your antenna to get the best reception. This was a great help. It actually made a difference which way we pointed the antenna. Now we just need to pull ourselves away from another episode of This Old House and take care of our four screamin' kids.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Molly is one month old

Our sweet, sweet Molly is 1 month old. It has been an exciting and tiring month. Molly has been a very neat addition to the Gammons family. It has been fun to see this little person emerging more and more with every day. It is also fun to see her becoming more a part of the family. One of the ways that I see this is every night both Benjamin and Caleb pray, "Dear God, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Benny, Caleb, and Matty." In the past few days both of them have begun to include, "Oh yeah, and Molly too."

This is where Molly sleeps every night. I went in this morning and just had to take a picture of my two favorite girls.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Excitement addiction

Gregg just sent me a great article about parenting. The main crux of the article is that happiness is more important than excitement in the lives our our children. Most of American families are focused on providing excitement for their kids, not happiness. It described many American kids as addicted to excitement: presents, video games, Internet images and video, exciting music, action films, fun TV. The article talks about how kids who are addicted to excitement eventually become adults who have to meet their need for excitement in more and more destructive ways. It's the classic law of diminishing returns. These are great things to think about as we seek to raise kids that become adults that love people and love Jesus.

This is also something that I can feel some significant conviction about. I have often described myself as a "new" addict. I love new things. For instance, I found myself this morning watching a video of a dude opening a new iMac. I just wanted to see what it was like. I feed my need for "new" or excitement by little things like looking for new music that I think I might like. When my Paste magazine arrives in the mail every month with the sampler CD inside, my synapses fire faster. Sometimes I justify all of this by the reality that these are fairly "healthy" ways of scratching this itch. I think that building in "unexciting" times is very important. Our house is a pretty "unexciting" place, but it is also a fairly happy place most of the time.

Thanks Gregg, for a great article.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Company, coffee and a good fire

Saturday night, Shube's sisters and Grandma Pearl came over. (Molly Pearl is named after her Grandma Pearl so it was special to have them meet.) I always enjoy having company, especially company that I am comfortable with and that I know fairly well. Shube made Caesar salads for dinner with steak and shrimp. Afterwards, we settled down with cups of coffee in the living room. They all held Molly and doted after her. I love moments like these. I think it because of the many evenings that I spent with my parents' friends in our living room. It was always a highlight of our week to have company, sometimes on a Friday or Saturday and often after church on Sunday.

It was a cooler evening so I decided to light a fire in the fire pit. The boys love this, especially Caleb and Matthew. I love it even more than they do. Fires outside also remind me of growing up. Benjamin said to me, "Did you make fires with your dad when you were a little boy?" I told him that I didn't make a lot of fires with my dad, but I made a lot of fires with other people that I loved and that loved me. Most of those fires were out at Ripley Blvd. Baptist/Word or Life summer camp. The people that loved me and that I loved were men and woman like Bill Donovan, Tim Powell, Tim Pollard, Jack Klein, Russ Lewis, Sandy Donovan, Bill Fitch, Donna Pollard. The smell of smoke in my clothes makes me feel like a ten or eleven year old boy listening to "Uncle Jack" pick old gospel songs on his guitar while sitting on a picnic table.

These are some of the things that I value: good friends, good coffee and a good fire.

Can I hold Molly?

That is the question that we have been getting from Ben and Caleb, especially Caleb. It is fun to see them come up to her and talk to her in their breathy high pitched voice that they seem to think is appropriate for a baby. Even Matthew likes to give her "kisses". He leans down very gently and presses his cheek up against hers. We are getting more and more used to our family of six. Amanda is feeling better and the boys are getting more used to sharing their mommy.

The blogosphere rumor mill

In classic blogosphere fashion, it appears that my photoshop joke about Joe buying the Dairy Queen in Alpena has caught fire. A high school acquaintance of Joe's and mine just posted the following comment on a post from last week.

Hi Andy,
Someone had told me a few days ago that they had heard that Joe bought the DQ in Alpena, so tonight I googled to see what that was all about...pretty interesting. My dad actually built the DQ on state street with one of his friends when he was in high school, so I think that is really cool. Your blog is great and it looks like you are very happy! Tell Joe I said hi!

Dani (Mischley) Melford

To correct the rumor, Joe did not buy the Dairy Queen in Alpena (although I am sure that after I made that post he probably gave it some serious thought.) I thought it would be a funny post and it certainly has been. You can check out the comments on the original post for even more laughs.

My sincerest apologies to Dani Mischley Melford and all those from Alpena who have been led astray by this blog post. In the future, I'll try and label joke posts as that. Happy Monday to everyone.

Friday, August 3, 2007

I know you're out there.

I posted an invitation a few days ago to leave a comment if you never have before on our blog. Why do I care and how do I even know that people are reading our blog? I guess I care because I love to have people reading the blog, but blogs are supposed to be a dialog. I write; you read and respond. I know that's not how everyone reads blogs. For instance, Amanda, my own wife, has never commented on our blog.

How do I know that people are reading our blog? There is a very cool web service called Sitemeter that I utilize here at 2ABC2M. This service tells me every time someone hits my site. It tells me the Internet Service Provider that each hit comes from, their location and how long they were there. It's not perfect. Lots of times it won't tell me the location and sometimes the location is wrong. For instance, for the longest time I couldn't figure out who was hitting our blog multiple times a day from Rosebush, Michigan. Then on vacation Gregg told me that his companies ISP came up as that. Sitemeter is a pretty cool service though and it's free too!

What does this mean for you? Well not much, other than the fact that I know you're out there. I know that my good friends from the University of Virginia are reading. I know that Amanda's family from California checks in from time to time. I know that most people either come from Gregg and Allison's blog or go there when they're done reading ours.

A couple of things that I don't know are, Who is reading from the Michigan State Government in Lansing? Also, who is reading from Brooklyn, New York? I'd love to know who you are. I'd also love to have you keep reading anonymously. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More from John Piper on the Bridge Collapse

35W Bridge Collapse

Joe called me last night around 7:00 pm local time. He said, "Are you on the bridge?" I said, "What bridge?" Tricia and Alex had left about an hour earlier and I had just gotten the boys off to bed. After Joe told me what had happened we quickly turned on the TV and followed along with each of the Twin Cities television stations.

If you look at the map above, you'll see where we are located in relation to the bridge collapse (the red arrow.) We have driven over that bridge a number of times, every time we go to Dave and Joni's house. I was just near there last Wednesday at the University of Minnesota.

When I got to work this morning I checked a lot of my usual sites. One that I read every morning is the Desiring God blog. This is our pastor John Piper's ministry. Read some of his hopeful, yet sobering words about the bridge collapse here.

Below is a live traffic camera from near the scene of the collapse.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Don't be afraid. Go ahead and leave a comment!

Many of you come to our blog often: maybe monthly, maybe weekly, maybe even more often than that. We'd love to hear from you. Who are you? How did you find us here? Who told you about our blog? What do you think about what we've been writing?

Of course you don't have to leave a comment and let us know you're out there. You can remain somewhat anonymous. Commenting on our blog is easy. You don't have to sign up for an account or anything. Just click on the link that says "0 comments" below. Then click on "other". You can then put your name in so we know who you are. Its that easy. We'll look forward to hearing from you soon.

Classic CCM

I was feeling a bit nostalgic here at work today so I put together a lala play list of some of my favorite classic CCM artists. Most of these are CDs that I got while I was in college through the Chrisitan CD club (maybe an oxymoron.) Others go all the way back to when I was in junior high and became a Christian. I swore off "secular" music, threw out my AC/DC, Bobby Brown, NWA, and Chicago. I pretty much listened to CCM and the oldies radio station. Here's a sample of some of the artists I included in my play list.

1. Michael W. Smith
The Project
Michael W. Smith 2
I 2 eye
The Big Picture
(Tricia had a poster of him from this album up in her room.)
Go West Young Man

2. Steven Curtis Chapman
3. Charlie Peacock
4. Rich Mullins
5. PFR (I helped out with one of their last shows at TU)
6. Petra
7. Geoff Moore and the Distance (Taylor alum)
8. Jars of Clay (just their first album)
9. Out of the Grey
10. White Heart

Who would be on your classic CCM play list?