Thursday, February 27, 2014

Flashback - My Almamater

I released "My Almamater" in 1996 while I was a student at Liberty University. The song was played extensively on the campus radio station, C-91. It's hard to believe it's almost been eighteen years!

Video produced by Mark Nunnally. Vocals and keyboard/drum programming: Marc Andre. Guitars: Jeff Farner. Trumpet: Bob Bechtel. Mix: Doug McLaughlin.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And Today’s Features Are…

I once worked along side a music producer who had lived in Nashville for some time. He still kept in touch with people in music city and even had the opportunity to be involved in a traveling production that featured a number of well-known Christian musicians. I remember asking him once what all the “big guys” did when they weren’t making money traveling or selling music. He told me that a number of Nashville artists worked “normal” jobs during the off-season to try to make ends meet.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a signed and well-distributed artist. I’m sure there are a number of musicians who make their living off music alone, but I’m curious how many lesser-known artists struggle to feed their families and pay their mortgages. I’m guessing some of these musicians wouldn’t want to admit that they have to do side-work to keep the financial boat afloat.

I wish I was one of those folks who could make his living solely from music, but the reality is, I earn most of our income from non-music work. Over the years, the amount of freelance music jobs has increased, and it certainly supplements our families’ income. However, I also work about thirty-five hours a week as a server at a New Mexican restaurant. Surprisingly, I’m actually doing better than I was doing as a production assistant at a television station (I’m getting a lot more sleep too).

I’ve never worked as a server, but I feel like I’m getting the hang of it. Honestly, I enjoy what I’m doing. My managers and co-workers are great, and many of them are Christians. My boss even recently began a morning Bible study that meets at the restaurant. After four years of college and nearly twenty years of “career” jobs, I’ve found the most peace serving people delicious fajitas and quesadillas. For the first time in a long time, I believe in what I’m selling. It’s good food (I’ve been eating it for three months and I’m still not tired of it). In addition, I enjoy making someone else’s day a little brighter – whether that person is a customer or a co-worker. I usually leave work feeling like I’ve done something positive.

I’m certain God has been trying to teach me some lessons in perspective over the last several years. For one, I’ve learned to appreciate a good job when I see one. I went to college thinking I would only be happy doing production work, but I’m learning that the culture of a workplace is often much more valuable than the duties the actual job entails.

I’m always itching for more music work, and I keep pressing forward. I’m writing new songs and new jingles. I’m knocking on new doors. We’ll see what the future holds. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep an open mind and watchful eye, knowing that God often reveals His blessings in the least likely places.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Story of Crystal and Marc

Six years ago today, I met my wife, Crystal, for the first time. Here is a chapter from my book, detailing our story.

"The story of how Crystal and I found each other is quite an amazing tale, and I can only attribute our meeting to the Lord.

At the ripe age of thirty-two, I had pretty much resolved I was preordained to be single for the rest of my life. In my mind, there was simply no way that I was going to meet a lady to whom I was attracted, a lady with whom I clicked, and a lady as enthusiastic about me as I was for her. It had become too much of a burden to hope any longer.

I dated during college (at Word of Life and Liberty University), but nothing ever worked out. By May of 1998, I was discouraged. I had earned a communications degree, but like many Christian college seniors, my expectations of finding a mate in the university singles’ pool had been drowned.

After college, I entered the strange world of the church singles’ group. What better place to find a mate than at church? Sadly, the first church I attended out of college hardly had a singles’ group, and the few girls I met in this group didn’t fall within the parameters of what I thought God would have me look for.

Then, in 2001, I began dating a girl rather seriously for four months, but our differences led us to break off our relationship. It was an especially sad time in my life, a period which inspired many emotions and several songs, including Hurricane and After Everything.

Worth the Wait
Looking back, I can see how God was orchestrating those years of trials and lonely nights for good. It’s easy to say now, but those valleys were tough, and even now, I feel for my single friends who haven’t yet found that special someone. This world can be a lonely place, and I think everyone needs a companion, a tangible friend of flesh and bone who can connect at the deepest heart level. It is only by providence that I found the love of my life. I often pray for my single friends that God will do the same for them. The story of Crystal and me is a testament that miracles do happen.

Around 2001, my parents told me about an older friend of theirs in his sixties who had met his second wife through a Christian web site, Mom and Dad kindly suggested I give the service a whirl. Honestly, I was suspicious at first, but having given up on the gambles of the church singles’ group scene, I decided that I didn’t have much to lose.

Internet dating was slow going at first. I received a good number of matches, but many of the people seemed uninteresting and at times, scary. To add to the equation, many of the profiles didn’t have pictures. To make a long story short, I tried eHarmony on and off for almost six years. In fact, I even traveled all the way to Florida and to Mississippi to meet a couple girls. In both cases, the chemistry was not there. I spent a bunch of money over that time, and often, I felt like I was throwing dollar bills to the wind. After a number of disappointments and seasons of searching, I decided to give online dating a rest. I finally faced the possibility that God might not want me to get married, and I think I was ok with that.

Then, in the winter of 2007, for some reason, I was inspired to give Neil Clark Warren’s baby another go. I was surprised to discover that there were a number of interesting matches, many more than I had seen when I had tried eHarmony in the past. Apparently, the pool of girls on eHarmony had grown. Some mornings, I’d open up my email to discover two or three new female matches who wanted to correspond.

Unfortunately, most of these girls didn’t interest me. However, there was a handful of girls I was curious to know more about. In many cases, however, these were the women who either blocked me or ignored my requests to communicate. It always baffled me how this worked almost as a pattern. If a girl was good looking, she was either in the bar scene, or she ignored me. I was surprised to find what seemed to be a lot of ladies getting out of the bar scene and searching for a nice “religious guy” with no preference of his doctrine. Appearance aside, I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with a lady who loved Jesus Christ — not just a woman who followed a generic “God” or lived a “moral life.” The pool at eHarmony had grown, but now I felt like I just had too many choices of nothing I wanted.

In January, 2008, I was alerted that I had been matched with a girl named Crystal from Ashland, OH (and she was also notified that she had been matched with me). I initiated the online conversation by selecting and sending her five multiple-choice questions (the first stage of communication on eHarmony). She responded by sending me five multiple-choice questions, and, liking her answers, I replied. The next stages of communication included five open-ended questions, an exchange of one’s “must haves and can’t stands,” and, finally, open communication where two people can freely email one another through eHarmony’s secure email system.

Within a week or two, Crystal and I were exchanging personal email addresses, and eventually, we began speaking on the phone a couple times a week. However, the more I talked to Crystal, the more I realized that our backgrounds and convictions were quite different, and after several weeks of correspondence, I began to wonder if I honestly wanted to communicate any further. This is where the story gets a bit strange.

Crystal Clear and Clearly Crystal
One morning as I was sipping a cappuccino at the Mean Bean, I checked my email only to discover a message that read, “Crystal from Ashland would like to begin communicating with you.” Needless to say, I was confused. Wasn’t I already corresponding with Crystal from Ashland? Turns out, there was another Crystal in Ashland, OH, on eHarmony, and even more interesting, like me, she attended a Grace Brethren Church. Like me, she also grew up as a missionary kid! Wacky and ironic stuff! It’s also crazy that I was Crystal’s first match on eHarmony, and she literally had to be match number 2000 or so for me! Wilder still, she had casually signed up on a whim after receiving a junk email from Neil Clark Warren! We still joke that God can even work through spam!

To make a long story short, I tapered off my communication with the first Crystal and spent more and more time talking to the second Crystal through email. The second Crystal was such a contrast to the first Crystal, and I think it is this drastic difference that God used to initially draw me to the second Crystal.

About two weeks into our correspondence, Crystal mentioned that her family was coming to Columbus to celebrate her sister’s birthday, and they were eating at a restaurant directly across from the production house where I worked! “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “It might be a bit quick, but maybe we should meet up in person so I can see if this girl and I have any chemistry.” So, putting thought to action, I emailed Crystal and asked her if she wanted to get together while she was in Columbus. (We hadn’t even talked on the phone yet!) She enthusiastically agreed and actually invited me to dinner with her sister and her parents. Talk about a high pressure first date!

It was a Wednesday evening slightly before seven, and I was watching out our office window for a cute girl and her family to walk into the entrance of the Cheesecake Factory. I was slightly nervous but surprisingly calm given the circumstances. After a few minutes of spying (and not seeing any family of these specifications), I decided to make my way down to the restaurant where Crystal and I, and her family, would have our first rendezvous.

As I walked through the doors of the Cheesecake Factory, I noticed a pretty young lady waiting on a bench seat. Looking at me, she rose, said, “Hi, I’m Crystal!” and she proceeded to shake my hand (She now tells me she had no idea what to do except to shake my hand). “Hi!” I exclaimed, “and, of course, I’m Marc.” She smiled and led me back to a booth seat where her parents, her sister and a friend of her sister were waiting.

As I sat down, I already felt quite comfortable around her family. They were quite easy to talk to, and the continued gorgeous gaze and smile of Crystal across the table further put me at ease. The server brought us some bread and butter and ice water, and, only moments into our conversation, I reached for a piece of bread and inadvertently spilled a glass of water all over Crystal’s lap! “Now that’s the way to make a first impression,” I exclaimed with a nonchalant chuckle. Crystal and her family graciously excused the blunder, and we continued our small talk about siblings, hobbies and employment. Even after the water incident, I felt unusually relaxed.

I remember people telling me over the years, “When you meet the right one, you will know.” I swore I had “known” on numerous occasions, but this time, something was different. Even my initial interactions with Crystal lacked the awkwardness and doubts I felt with so many prior dates. This first meeting was just the beginning of what would prove to be an unusual and divinely designed encounter.

We concluded the evening with a tour of the production house where I worked, and after this, Crystal and her family returned home to Ashland with each of us feeling a sense of “Wow, what just happened?”

Crystal and I continued dating throughout the spring and summer of 2008, mostly alternating travel destinations on weekends (Columbus or Ashland). I would also often make the hour and fifteen-minute drive to Ashland on either a Tuesday or Wednesday night, returning to work by 10am the next morning. It worked out great as she could stay at my parents’ home in Columbus (only fifteen minutes away from my apartment), and I could stay at her parents’ home in Ashland (only ten minutes from her house). Ah, yes, her house. This brings me to yet another sign of God’s foresight and planning.

A Future and a Hope
Like me, Crystal had concluded that she would probably be single for the rest of her life. She decided to settle down in Ashland and purchased a nice two-story, three-bedroom home about a month before she received my profile via. eHarmony. This is interesting as her dad had told her that she would probably be married within a year of buying the home. He may have the gift of prophecy!

The purchase of the home was rather unusual. First, Crystal actually sold her own home to herself and was paid commission (She was a real estate agent at the time). Next, she was able to sell the home after living in it for four months. She never even had to put it on the market, and she again made more money on it! Speaking of junk mail, the previous owners (who had foreclosed on the home) contacted Crystal via email and asked if she would be interested in selling the house back to them. How often does that happen? If Crystal had not checked her junk folder, she would have again missed a golden opportunity (As I mentioned previously, she had signed up for eHarmony because of a junk email).

As it turned out, the original owners of the home were unable to get a loan, and two other people contacted Crystal directly about the house (Again, it was never on the market). The third person made an offer and bought the home one day after Crystal and I were engaged. Amazing how God works!

I don’t necessarily consider the following a “fleece,” but I think it does illustrate God’s attention to detail and may contain some sprinklings of His humor. As a birthday gift, my artist dad decided to design a beautiful calligraphy of Crystal’s favorite verse Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper, not to harm, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

At the time, Crystal was still living in her new house, and her bedroom was decorated with bluish purple paint and a queen-sized bed with a beautiful dark wood bed frame and intricately carved bed posts. I remember my dad asking me, “What colors does Crystal like?” I told him that her favorite shade was purple, as was the color of her bedroom walls. He then asked me to pray that God would give him wisdom in choosing colors, and I did.

At the end of March, my parents came up to Ashland to surprise Crystal on her birthday. They were already at one of her favorite restaurants and appeared just as we stepped up to put our name in for a table. Crystal was wide-eyed with surprise. After dinner, we went back to Crystal’s house for ice cream cake, and soon thereafter, my dad revealed his carefully wrapped birthday present. Crystal opened the gift and was thrilled with his calligraphy, especially since it included both her favorite verse and her favorite colors. Crystal immediately took the framed artwork to her room to see how it looked. My parents, Crystal’s parents, Crystal’s sister, and I all followed.

As she held the calligraphy up to the wall, we were all amazed. The purple of the artwork matched the purple on the wall precisely! And even more astounding, the frame of the calligraphy had the same wood and carved design as Crystal’s bed headboard and bedposts! None of us really knew what to say, except for Crystal’s mom who quickly whispered to me as we left the room, “Marc, we believe you are Crystal’s future and hope.” If that wasn’t a hint of in-law blessing, I don’t know what is!

I’ll Go There Too
The Lord’s hand was so evident in the ways He brought Crystal and me together, and He continues to show His faithfulness and direction in our marriage today. Wherever Love Would Go was written as a promise to Crystal and to the Lord. Regardless of what comes our way, I have committed to fight for our relationship while keeping Christ central in our marriage. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 paints a beautiful word picture of Biblical love — “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Read more in my book, Snapshots of the Shattered Soul: The Stories Behind the Songs. The book is available as a paperback through my web site,, and is available as an eBook on the iBookstore and