I thought I’d share our well-written, well-thought out, well . . . I’m not sure.
Dear artist-friends, industry moguls and other persons of strategic influence (who happen to be our close, personal friends):
‘Tis the season for Christmas letters, and Carmen put me in charge of ours for The Morning Cruise. The reason for the delegation is, I suspect, that she keeps a very tight schedule – what, with repaving the parking lot, washing, waxing and changing the oil in the station vehicles, consulting with her agent, personal trainer, and vice president in charge of wardrobe . . . for Dave and me, of course. Meanwhile, Dave is busily carrying out the other half of Carmen’s to-do list. Although I don’t recall seeing “web research on LSU football” on the list, he says it’s a very important assignment and shuts the door. So, here I am with all this pretty stationery and lots of room to fill it with highlights of the year that many of you have shared with us. How shall I begin?
It was a dark and stormy night…
Okay, I ran that past the attorneys and they muttered something about “copyright infringement.” Let’s just start by saying that from the beginning of the year, Carmen, Dave and I knew 2007 was going to be special, and it was a lot of you that made it that way. Coach Tony Dungy and the Colts were OUR (adopted) team. Thousands of our listeners were rooting for our former Tampa Bay luminary. They put their encouragement in the form of hand-made notes, and Carmen and I delivered the collected album personally to the Dungys (as they were headed down the escalator surrounded by security) in Miami, Super Bowl weekend. Actually, Carmen delivered it. I got lost between the banquet room and the escalator.
Then there was Ron and Denver. Some of you have read their book, Same Kind of Different as Me. If you haven’t, then don’t tell Carmen unless you want a copy and a deadline. Meeting the authors and becoming their friends was one of the most profound experiences of the year. The picture I still have in my head is Denver, fedora in place, being chauffeured around in Carmen’s convertible. Keep in mind that this is the same homeless guy that lived on the streets for more than 30 years, and swore he’d never again speak to a “white woman” after almost being beaten to death for helping one change a tire. Priceless are the nuggets of wisdom he left us and our audience, like: “Just tell ‘em I’m a nobody that’s tryin’ to tell everybody ‘bout Somebody that can save anybody.”
Not all of you know this, but Dave Cruse is an avid cyclist, which means two things: He watches the Tour de France (while we’re on the air!) and he participates in long-distance road biking events. When Mark Schultz put together his cross-country tour for the James Fund, Dave just had to be part of it – the flat part – Kansas to be specific. The irony here is that, as Dave found out, much of Kansas isn’t flat. Clearly, Dave slowed Mark down. But Mark is a gracious host, and he agreed to help us with our “Bike Ride for the Homeless” in February, 2008. Dave, make him ride the hills!
Another artist-show partnership happened last summer, and it hasn’t ended yet. Brandon Heath joined us for “The Summer Cruise II” in July, obviously not having any idea what he was getting himself into. He was the perfect fit – young, single and clueless to our sneaky radio ways. Little did any of us know just how much impact that week of live morning shows and afternoon live-remotes would have. We’ve not heard the end of all the accolades from our listeners. But on a deeper level, there was a touch of heaven none of us expected in the form of two new friends: Tyler and Melissa.
Music-loving Tyler showed up in Pinellas Park one morning, looking tired in his wheelchair. Brandon noticed him as he was about to leave. Brandon pulled away from the crowd, knelt down and did a command performance of a song he just happened to have in his back pocket called “Tyler’s Lullabye.” For this young boy afflicted with crippling disease, it was a five-star event. For us, it was like seeing Jesus stop and minister to someone society would pass by, unnoticed.
Melissa loves music as much as Tyler does. We met her in Inverness, and again, Brandon, exhausted from the week, took the time to make a personal connection and encourage her. Her battle against a neuro-degenerative disease similar to ALS has not kept her smile from encouraging us right back. Melissa and Tyler, and both their moms have become friends of The Morning Cruise and of Brandon. God is using those friendships as a source of continual encouragement in a much wider circle.
I said I had lots of space, and now I’m running out! So, briefly, Mark Hall’s flying down to Florida to debut “The Altar and the Door” and Matthew West’s flying here to share his story of personal victory through vocal surgery were both major highlights for us. Bring Melanie / Emily next time! So many of you artist-types feel the call of God to come to the Florida gulf coast whenever you can, and we appreciate your willingness to so suffer for Jesus! We also suggest PABA-free sunscreen with SPF level of 15 or higher.
We wrapped the year by collecting and distributing over 7,000 frozen turkeys to food banks and ministries throughout our listening area, just in time for the holidays. “T-Shirts for Turkeys” was an appropriate way to connect faith and works, listeners and ministries, God and needy people. The overwhelming response was, no doubt, partly due to the involvement that folks like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (whoops… wrong list) Brandon, Denver, Ron, Tony and others allowed us to share with our listening family.
Actually, Scripture is appropriate to bring in at this point. Jesus said: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. We feel like, in all the fun we’ve had and the connections we’ve made, God’s will was done. Incarnating Christ to lost and broken people – people like us who are daily reminded of their need – is usually not flashy work. It’s not difficult either. It just requires a personal touch.
And that’s what we received from so many. And that’s what, by God’s grace, we gave.
I’m sure I speak for Carmen and Dave when I say, Let’s do it again next year! That, of course, means Dave’s to-do list just got bigger, Carmen will need more time to balance work, home, pedicures, root touch-ups, TJ Maxx delivery schedules, and keeping the two of us in line! And I’ll keep trying to find new ways to say thanks.
Dave, Bill and Carmen
The Morning Cruise