Monthly Archives: November 2016

Christmas piano

Favorite Christmas Recordings

A friend recently asked me about some of my favorite Christmas recordings, to help them find new music, so I’ll list them here. I’ve decided to at least sort these into “vocal” and “instrumental” categories, in case you’re unfamiliar with the artists.

Instrumental

Beegie Adair (jazz piano)

The Canadian Brass

Chris Botti (trumpet)

Eric Nordhoff (piano)

Jack Jezzro (jazz guitar)

Jim Brickman (piano)

Kenny G (saxophone)

London Festival Orchestra

Mannheim Steamroller

New York Philharmonic

The Piano Guys

SMS Orchestra

  • Christmas Meditations for Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Vince Guaraldi Trio

Vocal

Alvin & The Chipmunks

Andrea Bocelli

Andy Williams

Barlow Girl

Bing Crosby

The Carpenters

Casting Crowns

Céline Dion

Chanticleer

Chris Tomlin

David Phelps

Frank Sinatra

Gaither Vocal Band

Harry Connick, Jr.

Home Free

Il Divo

Jane Monheit

Johnny Mathis

Jordan Smith

Josh Groban

Julie Andrews

The King’s Singers

Larnelle Harris

Libera

Luciano Pavarotti

Mary J. Blige

Matthew West

Mercy Me

Michael Bolton

Michael Bublé

Michael W. Smith

Nat King Cole

Neil Diamond

Pentatonix

Perry Como

Rosemary Clooney

SMS Men’s Chorus

Sons of Serendip

Steve Green

Steven Curtis Chapman

Straight No Chaser

Tony Bennett

Voctave

What do you think? If I’ve missed anything really good, please let me know in the comments! Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

Eagle Soaring

Those who trust in the LORD will find new strength

O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of His understanding.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:27-31 (NLT)

Career Transition

Why I left a new job after one week

Those who know me will know that I’ve been sharing recently about a new job that I accepted as the CRM Business Manager for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. In many ways, the job seemed like a great fit for me. I would once again be working for the University of Michigan, a university that I greatly admire, whose teams I cheer for, and who is a tremendous employer. I would be working on a team, supporting the Salesforce.com platform, and spreading the use of it beyond the Alumni Association to other departments, schools, and campuses within the university.

Starting the job seemed positively surreal. After receiving the job offer, I was able to negotiate with the HR representative on a few key items, and she was patient in answering all of my benefit questions. The Friday before I started, they sent me a 2-page “onboarding plan” that included a list of key contacts, as well as a schedule of important meetings I would need to attend in my first six months. On the morning of my first day, I attended a well-prepared and well-executed orientation program that provided me with good information regarding the university as a whole, and also answered my specific questions. After lunch on my first day, I went to my office, where I was given the type of computer I had requested (Mac vs. PC), other relevant hardware (keyboard, mouse, large monitor), and even a powered desk that would allow me to stand or sit while working! I was impressed.

However, days 2 and 3 started to reveal some factors I hadn’t considered.

I had commuted to Ann Arbor from my home in Flint before this, but it had been under different circumstances. First, I was much younger, my wife was younger, and we didn’t yet have any children. Second, the other companies I worked for were all on the outer edges of Ann Arbor, near US‑23 and I‑94, and had their own free parking lots near the building. Now, for this new job, I was working in downtown Ann Arbor — referred to as “Central Campus” — where I would need to find parking in a parking garage, and either pay for it through a monthly payroll deduction by parking in a university parking garage, or pay cash for a public parking garage. There were a couple of days when I had to go to more than one parking garage to try and find a parking space. I never realized before this what a perk it is to have free and ample parking.

Traffic was also an issue. We’ve been fortunate here in early November to have some mild weather, but even something as simple as fog can drastically slow down the flow of traffic into the Ann Arbor area. On a good day, including driving, finding a place to park, and walking to my office, my total commute was at least an hour and a half. And this is before the weather turns and the snow begins to fall. I began to ask myself, “Do I really want to spend three hours a day commuting? More importantly, is this a good fit for my family right now?”

The answer to me was immediately clear — this was not a good fit for me and my family. It would definitely have been a good job under other circumstances, and the fault was not with the university, the alumni team, or anything else. It came down to a decision of what is best for my family.

Now that I had made the decision that this job wasn’t a good fit, the next question was what to do about it. I could “grin and bear it,” and continue in this job for some period of time while I looked for other employment. Although resigning meant foregoing a steady paycheck, staying in the job didn’t seem to be a good option for my family, and would only reduce the time and energy I could spend on looking for a job that would be a better fit.

But it also occurred to me that remaining in that job wouldn’t be fair to the university and to the leadership team at the Alumni Association. They had hired me with the expectation that they would be able to transfer certain responsibilities to me, and that I would take on certain roles within the team. It didn’t seem right to me to allow that to happen while I was looking for other work, only to suddenly resign within a month or two, and put them back at square one. It seemed more honorable to me to resign immediately, before any transition took place, so they could continue in their current setup, and begin to look for a new candidate to fill that position.

So that’s what I did — I met with my director on Friday and explained the situation to him. He agreed that the type of remote work and flexibility that I would need would not fit the university’s needs for that job. And so I submitted to him my letter of resignation, and left that job the same week I had started.

Was that easy to do? Definitely not.

Are there aspects of that decision that scare me still? Most definitely. I don’t have a “next job” lined up, nor do I have any idea what it will look like, when it will come, what it will pay, etc.

Do I have confidence that I made the right decision and pursued the right course of action? Yes, I do. I believe I acted in the best of interests of my family and with integrity toward my employer.

Above all, do I have confidence that God is in control and has good things planned for me and my family? Yes, definitely. God has demonstrated in the past His ability to provide for my family, both through my employment and through other means, and I am confident He will continue to do so in the future.

So I am back in the job market, with a better idea of what I’m looking for — not necessarily a prestigious employer with an ego-building job title, but a solid job that is local to Flint so I can be near my family and support them in all ways, not just financially.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks to those who have already voiced their support. I appreciate each one of you.

The Glorious Unfolding

Take Another Step

A little over a year ago, two good friends introduced me to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Take Another Step.” I was even privileged to be part of a group that performed this song as a special for my church. This song has meant a lot to me in the past few weeks and months as I’ve tried to follow God’s leading for me and my family.

Listen as Steven explains the meaning and significance behind the song:

Here are the lyrics and the song:

Well the band was playing, the flags were waving,
And there you were
In the middle of a sunny day parade.
The crowds were cheering, the sky was clear,
Not a worry in the world,
Marching on, sure and steady, strong and straight.
Take another step and another step and another step.

Then the lightning flashed, the thunder crashed,
And suddenly it began to rain
And everybody ran.
Then the sky went black as midnight
And you couldn’t see,
Paralyzed by what you just can’t understand.
And now here you are, you’re afraid to move,
You don’t know where to go, you don’t know what to do.

Take another step, take another step.
When the road ahead is dark,
And you don’t know where to go,
Take another step, take another step,
Trust God and take another step,
And another step, and another step,
Take another step, and another step, and another step.

“We walk by faith and not by sight,”
We know it’s true.
We say it and sing it and love the way it sounds.
But none of us can even begin to truly understand
What it really means ’til all the lights go out.
And there we are, nothing to hold on to
But the promises God’s made to me and you.

Take another step, take another step.
When the road ahead is dark,
And you don’t know where to go,
Take another step, take another step,
Trust God and take another step.

If there’s an ocean in front of you,
You know what you’ve gotta do:
Take another step, and another step.
Maybe He’ll turn the water into land,
And maybe He’ll take your hand and say,
“Let’s take a walk on the waves.
Will you trust Me either way?”
And take another step.
Take another step.

Take another step, take another step.
Trust God and take another step.
Take another step,
When the road ahead is dark,
And you don’t know where to go,
Take another step, take another step,
Trust God and take another step,
And another step, and another step, and another step.
Take another step, and another step, and another step.
Take another step, and another step, and another step.
Take another step, and another step, and another step.