Why did Drew leave Tenth Avenue North?

I find it interesting that the most popular search on this blog (my personal, family blog) is, “Why did Drew Middleton leave Tenth Avenue North?”

Perhaps because we bragged about our friend when he came to Nashville this past spring to claim his BMI Songwriter’s award for his work on the hit, “Love is Here”. After all, I’ve known Drew since he and the boys led worship for our church’s college group in Florida. As the female mentor for the ministry, I enjoyed worshipping with and watching the guys grow in the Lord.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I really got to know Drew.  I learned that he and some of the other ‘kids’ that I served with were getting married! Not only were they getting married, but many now held positions within the church. That meant that their new brides would be graduating college, moving out on their own for the first time AND becoming a pastor’s wife in a sense. Being a recent newlywed myself (just four years prior), my heart became burdened for these precious women (most of whom I’d not yet met!) and started a group to mentor these newlyweds. I met with the girls, my husband met with the guys, and we’d regularly all come together as couples…and it was awesome.

So while I’ve known Mike D. and the Tenth Ave gang for about ten years, it wasn’t until the past three that I’ve had the pleasure of really getting to know Drew and his precious wife, Shannon. You can imagine my surprise when, on a blog where I normally discuss funny things my kids say and my wonderment at the world around me,  there were daily searches on Tenth Avenue North, Drew Middleton and more specifically, why Drew left the band.

So I finally asked him.

It’s amazing how little I really knew about how the band got its start. I learned that it did in fact get its name from the road in Lake Worth where a few of the guys lived back when there were in college. I learned that Drew was not one of the original members of the band (he joined when they were all in college at PBA, not too long after he came in second place to their first place finish at a Battle of the Bands on campus). And I finally learned that Drew left the band because he felt God tugging on his heart to return to ministry at his local church.

“Through college, it was a good time – nothing that demanded our full time attention – if someone asked for a show we’d go play.” After he graduated, most of the guys worked part time at the church in the fall and winter and then the band went on tour in the off times and during the summer. However, after all the guys had worked at Christ Fellowship part time for a year, they went to the church to let them know they felt called to pursue the band full time. From that point in 2005 through 2006, Drew and the guys concentrated their full energies on the band, even releasing two full length albums and some EP’s.

So why did Drew walk away from it all?

“I felt this tug on my heart to go back to Christ Fellowship. I just knew it was what God was calling me to do, though at the time, I didn’t know why.”

Drew was engaged then and while he knew his future wife would always support him in whatever he felt God called him to do, Drew believed it was time for him to go back to the local church and lead worship. At the same time, his friend and fellow band-mate (Danny Zayas, who had just married his wife Renee a year earlier) approached Drew with a similar sentiment.

Ironically, things were starting to take off for the band. They had just met with some guys in Nashville and were considering what record label to sign with. “We were at a conference somewhere in Florida and were meeting as a band when Danny & I spoke up and said we felt called to bow-out of the band. Needless to say, the other guys were shocked.”

It was never their intent to deliver a double-whammy. They knew it would be a big deal to lose two members at once, but both Drew & Danny stayed on and played for several more months until their “Hello/Good-Bye Show” at City Place where they introduced Jeff (Owen) into the band and said goodbye to Drew & Danny.

Does Drew have any regrets about leaving the band?

“For the first two years after I left the band I had no regrets (even though they had a lot of success). I started feeling regret the last time I was in Nashville. Not because of the Dove Awards or the recognition or the hit song, I had regrets because being up there and hanging out with the guys again reminded me of the family nucleus we had as a band. More than friends, we were like a family church, constantly looking out for one another, encouraging each other and spurring one another on to do great things for God. Did we fight? Yeah. Were there times we wanted to rip each other’s faces off? Absolutely…but what a great group of guys. My regret is 50% because I know God has me here for this time and using me down in FL, but I think I’ll always vicariously live through them after being such a part of that band and that industry for 5-6- years. When that’s all you hang out with for so long, of course there’s going to be a tug.  All that to say my regret isn’t that I left the band and all this success; I miss the guys and that nucleus.”

So what’s next for Drew?
“You’re asking the wrong guy – it’s up to the Lord.
I can tell you what I’d like to be doing, but who knows if that’s what God has for me. I have some dreams and some ambitions, but God has his perfect will and I’m going to make sure I’m following that.”

Not to worry; the guys are still as close as brothers. They’ve sang at each other’s weddings, hang out together even when they’re not singing and are now welcoming children into the Tenth Avenue North Family.

While Drew isn’t welcoming any children of his own just yet, he does have some valuable advice for young ones looking to get into the music industry:
“Never give up playing or learning more about your craft. You constantly need to ask yourself, ‘How can I get better at what I’m doing – spiritually and musically?’”

To bands just getting started, Drew suggests the same as what kept his band so close: “Do whatever you can to encourage one another all the time. Get in the habit of speaking words of encouragement to your band-mates. It’s all too easy to get caught up in character flaws and focusing on the wrong (negative) thing.”

“When every band gets started, there seems to be a #1 goal of getting a record deal – don’t let that be your goal. That was never our goal (to be signed) and I think that’s why they (Tenth Avenue North) have achieved the success they have, because that was never our goal. God brought that to us, but we were never out searching for it. Don’t make getting signed your life ambition because:
1. It’s the wrong goal – your goal should be to uphold Christ above all else and pursue him.
2. What will you do after you get signed? Most have a plan but some don’t, so don’t get caught up in that rabbit trail.”

While he may be done with the road for now, music and songwriting is still an integral part of Drew’s life. He is now a worship pastor at Christ Fellowship church in Florida and is married to Shannon, a beautiful and talented girl in her own right (which I can say proudly because she’s such a good friend too!). Personally, I hope Drew continues to win many more awards for his amazing songs so that we get to see more of the Middletons in Nashville!

Thanks, Drew, for allowing me to dig a little deeper into your passions and for speaking so candidly. Ricky and I are so proud to call you friends and we pray many others will benefit and grow from reading your story and learning of your continuing faithfulness, both to God, your family and your craft!

To see some pictures of Drew’s winning moments (and his wonderful wife), click here to see my earlier post.

Estate Sale

While I’m all about having my own garage sales to both rid clutter and make some extra cash, I’m not as big of a fan of going around to garage sales.

However, on my way home from dropping Kariss off at school on Friday I spotted a “Moving/Estate Sale” sign. Surely, this would be a jackpot waiting for my arrival!

Not so much.

Once I navigated the treacherous, winding, pebble driveway, I discovered a few OLD clothes (both old in how long they’d been in existence and old in who they’d appeal to) and some other broken trinkets that I’m sure had a lot of sentimental value for the purveyor of said estate sale.

And for that matter, I know strongly believe there should be a governing body deciding on what can and cannot be referred to as an “Estate Sale”. I believe there is a certain expectation of quantity or quality when you go to an estate sale, and haphazardly using the tagline to attract unknowing neighbors (like myself!) should warrant a penalty….I suggest these could be handed out like the fashion police; they don’t carry hard jail time, but they stop and make you think before ever repeating the act again!

So, all you Southerners that are aware of this vicious trend, join me in my plight to rescue unknowing citizens from cat-hair covered couches and kitchy kitchen items that have seen better days.

And that being said…anyone in the mood to help us move in a couple weeks (and maybe find some items to keep and use at your next garage sale) just let us know – we’re always happy to share in excitement 🙂

cold cereal

I just discovered a box of cereal in my fridge…
…can anyone else relate?
The week is too early for my mind to be losing it already!

Personal Stylist

I know most of you thought I was thrifty and didn’t have a lot of money to throw around, so it may come as a surprise to you that I have a personal stylist.

Yup. That’s right. She comes to my house and meticulously grooms me. Well, actually, she’s quite a diva. She doesn’t let me tell her how I want my hair – she just does her own thing. And while I’m thinking of it, she doesn’t just come to my house…she lives at my house.

“How does she pull it off?” you’re wondering…
I have a 5 year old that can’t be contained – it’s that simple. If they had a project runway for the under 6 crowd, she’d be walking away with the hundred grand.

Ok, so I can’t wear most of her looks in public but hey, aren’t most artists misunderstood?

New Favorite Commercial

Ok, I admit it, my tv doesn’t go off much during the two weeks of the U.S.Open – as a former pro, it’s hard not to get excited and energized by the roar of the New York crowd! (Not that I ever got to experience it from the court first hand!)

Though sometimes I wish I could just sit and stare at the set for 7 hours on end, usually I just keep it so I can check in or scores while I’m going about my other duties around the house.

However, I just put the kids down for a nap and came back to something that made my laugh out loud! I don’t even know what the commercial is for (I missed the beginning), but as a Chicago Bears die-hard fan, I stopped in my tracks when I heard, “Why is Dick Butkus in our office?”

It was two guys sitting at computers with one telling the other that since they’re getting ready to go global, he hired Dick Butkus for an inspirational speech.
“But I’m your only employee,” the other protests while Dick begins his speech…which causes Dick to throw an unkind glare his way.

After a long pause, you hear the offending employee utter, “Sorry Dick Butkus”. I’m still chuckling as I write this!

Don’t be surprised if you hear me throw that into my conversations from now on 🙂

17 Again

So the recent success of 17 year old tennis phenom, Melanie Oudin, made me get reflective today.

“Melanie who?” You’re asking….

Well, let me tell you. In the past week, this 17 year old from Marietta, Georgia has upset the #4 seed (Dementiava) & #29 seed (Maria Sharapova) at the U.S. Open! As a former tennis pro, I started to think back to when I was 17 – a lowly freshman at Emory University struggling to make my mark on their tennis team. And then it really hit me – I’m twice her age!

So aside from the fact that I wonder how I ever managed to fit into those cute little dresses, never mind the fact of how I played grueling matches for 8 hours a day in 100 degree heat….I’m twice her age! Now I’m not one to focus on age, but I still feel like I can hang with the college kids, but seriously, 17? Who am I kidding?

All I have to say is Bravo, Melanie…you go girl! You only live once, so you might as well give it all you’ve got. I’ve been getting nervous watching her, so I can’t imagine what it feels like to be the one under all that pressure in scrutiny.

But it comes down to what she had designed into her shoe: Believe. We all have to believe in something. Obviously she believes she can win it all -and she is! I’m thankful that while I wasn’t smart enough to believe in myself at 17, I now know a Savior who has given me all the confidence in the world, regardless of what I do or who I know. Ah, if only I had that youthful exuberance and spiritual wisdom at the same time, but then I wouldn’t have gained the insights that I now possess and have the privilege of sharing with all of you 😉

The Death of an Era

No, I’m not talking about Ted Kennedy’s passing.

In fact, this is much more relevant to my life – my favorite hoodie tracksuit has officially bit the dust 😦

Yes, I’m well aware Stacy & Clinton (of “What Not to Wear”) immediately toss any said item they encounter, but to me, it still epitomizes one of the quintessential wardrobe pieces.

It works equally well in the grocery store as on an airplane and pretty much anywhere in between. It’s coordinated and comfortable. Versatile in a variety of climates. And hey, it’s pretty much a socially acceptable way of wearing your pajamas in public…what’s not to like?!

Well, my dusty pink uniform that’s seen me through dating diasaters, jaunts across country, pre-wedding craziness, two pregnancies, multiple moves and so much more officially bit the dust today. As I reached for it because of this unseasonably cool Nashville summer (yes, I will continue to gloat because it’s so darn wonderful!), I noticed the zipper irreparably pulling apart. Yes, I know…tragic beyond words…

“So what did you do?” – I know you’re all dying to know…I’m wearing it one last time as I type this now…a sort of swan song if you will. However, I’ll be setting up a memorial fund at TJ Maxx’s across the country to raise money for a replacement…

Ok, not really, but seriously, I’m devastated that I’m approaching my first true fall season in years without this wardrobe stable and reliable standby.

Condolences will be accepted in form of comments below; I know with the help of my friends, I’ll somehow pull through 🙂