Biggest Surprise Gift Ever

This post hails from's a note he wrote to our church last night reflecting on what happened at church this past Sunday: Dear Brookside,

As I sit here and research what type of electronics to install in my new guitar, I can't help but smile as I think back on this past Sunday. Since I couldn't speak without tears, I wanted to share what it all looked like from my perspective. If you don't care to read my novella, I'll spoil the ending for you…I'm super thankful for your wonderfully humbling gesture.

What an amazing (and also very surreal) day. As I sat down after the first set, Steve looked at me and said, "I'm really excited for this." I'm pretty sure I had tears for the next 10 minutes. And then the song. That song! What a scene. Dave, wanting to crawl into a hole as Kevin asked him to lead the ruckus… Christy, belting out the vocals so that Kevin could figure out where he was in the song… Dylan and Rob B, keeping it steady on the low end, laughing all the while… Jacintha, attempting to give Kevin some sense of what the melody was… And Jon, seasoning the whole scene with coolness as only Jon Torrence can.

I read thru the lyrics later that day and laughed. "People arrive late" made it's way in there somehow? Ha. It's true tho…you guys do come late sometimes. It's ok.

And then the guitar. Here's the scoop with that. About six years ago, I was at a really nice music shop in Michigan and one beauty stood out to me among all the instruments in the store. I didn't recognize the headstock, but the script read "R. Taylor." I found out that it was handmade by a boutique, offshoot company of the very reputable, Taylor guitars. It was stunning in every way, but I had no intention of buying a new guitar that day. It was expensive and I was simply there to have my faithful six string repaired. But as I drove away that night, I remember feeling like the bar for what a REALLY nice guitar should sound like just got raised.

Speaking of raising, Kevin mentioned on Sunday that he had been raising money and planning this gift since the summer. I'm pretty sure he had asked some spies to find out the make, model and price of my dream guitar. He probably gasped when he found out what the price tag was going to be to make this dream a reality.

About once a year, I'll cruise around the internet to see if a used version of that bad boy is out there somewhere. Google search: "Used, R. Taylor, Style 1, Koa back and sides, Englemann Spruce top." Two weeks ago, one turned up for sale at a shop in Memphis, TN. I emailed to find out what they wanted for it. The price seemed fair, but still way expensive in the grand scheme of things. I emailed to see about it's condition? "Mint." I emailed to see if he'd come down on the price if I'd come down to get it?


Oh well, it was at least worth sending a link to my wife since she's heard me talk about this wonderfully elusive enigma for such a long time. And why not email a link to Kevin with a silly note about how this work related expense would really bless his worship pastor? Truth be told, I regretted sending that email almost immediately. I wondered if it sounded needy, ungrateful and super presumptuous.

As it turns out, Kevin thinks it might have been "Spirit led." That sounds good. I'll take it. Our church had gathered up just about the right amount of money. I gave him the link. He ran it by a few leaders and bought it the next day. That was a week and a half ago on Saturday. He was so excited about it that he couldn't help but tell my wife about it the next morning before church. She burst into tears. She's been trying to figure out a way to get me this guitar every Christmas for years now.

So Kevin, thanks for making us laugh with you (but mostly at you) once again. Your ability to not take yourself too seriously might be one of your most charming attributes. Thank you to the people and families who decided that investing in a gift like this was a good use of your money. I can't tell you how humbling that is. I hope to use your gift well, and eventually have it passed along as a family heirloom. And Brookside Church, thanks for letting me practice one of the most ancient of all honors and rituals; leading God's people into His presence. I say it often up front, but I realize it can be crazy and a little abnormal to wake up in the morning on Sunday and scream songs to Jesus at the top of your lungs. Thanks for straining to hit those notes with me.

And Ame, thanks for the ways you encourage and support me. I have the most wonderful wife and I love you babe. Men tend to only need a few things in marriage and one of them is usually respect; Ame thinks I'm in the top ten men of all time. She's wrong, but let's not try to persuade her of that too strongly. As we stood as a family (minus Olive) on Sunday, I thought of how rich a man I am. Tears just streamed down my face as I typed that. Thank you Jesus.

I love getting to be a citizen of His kingdom with you all,


Here's what actually happened:

Here's what actually happened: