History

Wow…I feel like I’m walking into a house (pardon the pun) I haven’t seen in a while.  As much as I’d like to see the rest, I think I’ll explore the attic.  You know, the place we store our history.  A while back on our Facebook page (salvationshousemusic) I asked for some blog topics, just a little something to stir up the creativity.  One of our wise guy friends wanted a biology paper, which I may still undertake.  I’m a  little busy doing the problems my son’s math teacher gave him.  Another suggestion was how we came to be Salvation’s House.  Fair warning: this is written from my own perspective, and may not be the perspective of any of the other guys in the group.


I had been singing with my church’s band, which was fulfilling in its own way, but I thought we could do so much more ministering.  People were asking me when we were going to record the songs we sang in church, and I thought it was a great idea.  Unfortunately, our leader really didn’t think so at the time.  I was disappointed, but kept plugging.  I will tell you though, I found it exceptionally hard to lead a group of volunteers.  We all seemed to want to go in our own direction.  Practice was once every other week.  I guess I wanted more.  You have to believe me when I tell you I really don’t think it was all about me or my ego.  I felt like people were crying out for more ministry and no one was listening.  Whether I was right or wrong is immaterial; I got frustrated and left the band and the ministry eventually.  It wasn’t really pretty.  It was more like a breakup with the girl you’ve been with for five years: you love her but you’ve come to really dislike the way she never rinses her dishes off after breakfast.Image
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Not Dean's Van. Still creepy though.

It was really a spiritual crisis for me.  I had forgotten that the closer we get to being in the center of God’s will, the harder the devil makes it to stay there.  So not only did I leave the band, I felt like I had to leave the church too, and I dragged my family with me.  I just wanted to sing and minister.  I felt like I had something to say, that I could connect with people in a way that said, “I’m no better or worse than you.  We’re all in this mess together, and God isn’t done with us yet.”  So one February day as I pulled into from work, a white van pulled in next to me. It was Dean.  

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Park&Praise. Dean on bass, Pete singing.

I knew Dean from a show the church band had done the summer before.  We were short a bass player, and Dean filled in.  He did a great job, and after that was interested in doing things together.  Come over, sing some songs…things like that.  I am not sure I have ever told anyone this, but I didn’t because I’m really uncomfortable being around people I don’t know or know very little.  Being up on stage is different.  There’s a barrier there, a space that is usually off limits to crowds.  That is my personal space bubble.  Not quite stage fright, exactly, but close.  I’ve learned to put it aside somewhat but I feel it creeping in from time to time. 

Dean asked me if I would be interested in singing.  In a band.  With him.  I told him without hesitation, “It’s all I want to do.”  He said a guy he knew had just left his band and was looking to put something together.  He was thinking about asking another guy, but wasn’t sure if he’d do it, and that they were having a breakfast in a few weeks to talk it over.  I told him to let me know.  I went inside and told my wife.  I remember being excited at the prospect, but reminded myself not to get too excited.

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Who dat drummer?

Later that month there was a meeting at a local church with a bunch of musicians to talk over a summer showcase.  Dean was there as well, and said the guy he told me about would be coming as well.  I kept checking the door as people arrived, seeing familiar faces but no one who approached Dean and introduced himself.  Tim walked in a bit later.  I knew Tim from my own church, where he filled in on drums from time to time.  I asked what he was doing there, and he said he came to see Dean and see what was going on.  It took me a minute to realize the guy dean had been talking about was Tim.  Tim said the breakfast had been postponed a few times, but was happening at Denny’s the next morning.  The guy who might throw in with us would be there.  It was sort of like a blind date, to see if there would be chemistry.

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Yeah, I'm talking to you. Join my band. Or else.

Dean picked me up and we drank coffee and chatted about what we might talk about.  When we showed up and walked in, we sat in a circular booth in the back with Gerry.  He was hopped up on caffeine, God and too many sugar packets, it seemed like.  He was big, muscular and just…there.  I admit to being a little scared of him.  As it would happen, we got along just fine.  Gerry and I are more alike than any other combination of guys in the band.  Same sense of humor, both Navy veterans, and both incredibly good looking.  I put that in there to see if you were still paying attention.

We all agreed on what we wanted to do.  We wanted to establish a band as a music ministry that wasn’t just using the stage as a pulpit, it wasn’t just singing and playing songs.  We wanted to be actively making a difference in people’s lives.  We wanted to be about something.  We wanted to rock.  The four of us laughed, ate and talked until we noticed the waitress giving us looks.  It wasn’t busy, it was lunchtime!  We had spent 4 hours in there making a ruckus, and she clearly thought it was time for us to go.  

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One of our first practices in "Salvation's Basement."

We picked five songs to learn and reconvened in Dean’s basement the following Thursday to practice.  It was loud, hard to hear, and perfect.  The other guys had practiced the songs.  I never knew it could be like this.  I don’t mean disrespect to the church bands at all.  I mean to say that I took it so seriously, cared so much, that no one could have possibly lived up to my standard.  But here were three guys who felt the same way.

I guess you know the rest of the story.  Dean wrote “Walk the Walk,” we played our first live show that summer, more songs were written, we played out more, recorded our CD (still out there for sake on iTunes), opened for our friends The Wrecking, played Soulfest, will play SoulJam this spring, and most importantly, helped fill buses full of food for the local food pantry, raised money for a Christian school and touched people who needed to hear the message in a way that mattered to them.

We’re still here, even though we took much of the winter off to rest and spend time with our families. We are back at it, practicing, retooling the setlist, trying to be more deliberate about what we play, to better allow God to move people.  We hope He opens doors for us this year as He did last.  We are renewed, refreshed and committed to showing Him as the reason for what we do, and the answer for what’s wrong in this world.

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Take a Chance

Well, what can I say?  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I doubt I’m going to hell for not posting a new blog every Wednesday, for those who are seeking faith.  That’s not how it works.

Life has been crazy busy lately, but not for the reasons you’d expect.  On September 26, my family rescued a five-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Chance from the Heaven Sent Animal Rescue of Clifton Park, NY.  I found her through petfinder.com, an adorable face looking away from a camera.  It was a long but beautiful drive out there, chasing the sunset through the Green Mountainsof Vermont.  We spent the night, and picked her up the next morning.  We were all up and ready to roll by 8:00, which is almost unheard of.  Nerves ramped up the closer we got to 10:30, the agreed-upon meeting time.  It reminded me of the days my kids were born.

You're kidding about this coat, right?

She was adorable, a bit small for her age and breed, but perfect for us.  She had come from an irretrievably broken situation, but was just as personable and friendly as you could imagine.  Corgis are incredibly intelligent, and Chance is no exception.  We loaded her into the van, stopped for lunch with some good friends who drive up from Long Island, then headed home.  She sat in Mrs. G’s lap most of the way home, but did grace the boys with her presence occasionally.  Needless to say we all fell in love, even Mrs. G., who swore up and down she wasn’t a dog person and expressed concern about the shedding sure to happen.

"Come On! Play with me!"

As the days have passed, Chance has not only won over Mrs. G, but the folks where I work.  She has become the de facto Human Resources mascot.  She marches around like she owns the joint, and I love it.  She has a few dislikes, don’t be mistaken.  She doesn’t like tapping noises, she doesn’t like it when Z and I wrestle around, she intensely dislikes windshield wipers and hair dryers, and apparently all attempts at hygiene except for baths.  She plays fetch like a pro, and when she returns the rope or the squeaky toy, she will put it down, wait for you to take it, and if you don’t but instead ask for it, she’ll growl, pick it up and carry it a bit closer.  She seems to be able to throw as well.

Just try to take this rope away from me.

Through Chance the Miracle Corgi, I am learning more than I thought I would about life and love, and how God looks at us.  God fell in love with us the moment He created us.  We found ourselves in a world not of our making, and it became immediately clear we needed rescue.  So He sacrificed His son to die for us, that the penalty for sin is paid for before we even commit the sin.  We were rescued, washed clean (which we fought against as well) and given a new life.  God delights in watching us grow and mature as we follow Him.  The leash is long, and occasionally we pull – hard – against it as we struggle to go our own way.  But once rescued, He’s not letting go of the proverbial leash.  He’ll be there, holding on, because of the intense love He has for us.

All that from a dog.  Thank you, Chance.

You're welcome, human.

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The Hole That Won’t Go Away

Yesterday the band played a music festival called Under the Son.  Our friends Exit 244 put it on up in Waterville, and we were overjoyed to help out.  A few weeks ago, George Gallagher, the guitarist for Exit 244 and the organizer, put out that this show was focusing on teen suicide.  We were supporting an organization called Haley’s Hope Foundation.  Check them out here.

I got up there early to help set up and found I was doing more standing around than anything else, so I wondered what I could do while I was waiting the 9 hours I had to go before we played.  It finally occurred to me that my son is buried a short distance from the church.  I was disturbed and a bit ashamed that I didn’t have that on mental speed dial.  I still am, frankly.  But in the car I went, and with luck and resourcefulness I found the cemetery.  Before you cast stones, let me tell you it has been 15 years since he died.  I don’t get to Waterville…at all anymore, and the cemetery is on a back road in another town.  Not only that, but those days back in 1996 were a blur.  My mind had stopped but the world kept on spinning.  On top of that, I know where my son is, and it isn’t in a tiny coffin under a bunch of dirt in Oakland.

I pulled in after a remarkably short ride and saw his stone.  I was disheartened to see the grass was a bit overgrown, unlike all the other neatly manicured graves, owing to the rocks placed in a semi-circle around the stone.  I grimly grabbed my gloves and started manually mowing.  (ADD moment:  the alliteration in that sentence is catching my eye.  Squirrel.)  It was somewhat therapeutic, but as with all things, it had to end.  I took my gloves off, wiped my brow, and immediately it all came back.  The mad rush to the hospital, the hours of not knowing, making the decision to pull the plug, and holding him until he breathed his last breath.  The preparations for the funeral, the funeral itself, the days and months afterward, and what my life has been like since.

It left an amazingly big hole in my life, one that has never been filled in and probably never will be.  He’d be 15.  Would he be driving?  Playing football?  Would he be a good student?  Popular with the girls?  Would he be living with me, giving me a better chance to shape his life?  I will never know.  The sense of loss, for many reasons, was enormous yesterday, and it continues into today.

Such is the case with suicide.  We can turn a hard heart on it, as I have in some instances before I came to have the amount of compassion I do, and say they were cowards, selfishly doing that and now they are in hell.  I have come to realize that I don’t know what God does when someone comes to Him before they are supposed to. I am so hopeful He opens His arms and says, “It’s OK.  I understand, and I forgive you.”  In most instances, we never know why someone takes their own life, but what we do know is that we usually miss the signs that have stared us in the face for weeks and months.  Rarely is it an immediate decision that results in suicide.  The damage and destruction a suicide leaves in its path is enormous.  And the hole is never filled in.

Today as you head out the door, remember that while you may love your kids, your spouse, your friends, are you sure THEY know it?  Have you taken the time to check in, to tell them you just wanted to call or come see them because you care about them?  I could be better about it too.  Sometimes just a hug can make all the difference.

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Almost there

The forseeable end is near. Before you start quoting chapter and verse, I’m not talking about the end of the world. How deep do you think I am? I’m talking about the end of Salvation’s House’s concert schedule for 2011. After September 17th we have nothing on the horizon until spring. I’d fire the guy who books the band, but so far that’s been me. We are always up for a live show for sure, but the breather will be nice.

It feels like God is saying, “It’s time for you guys to check your direction, re-energize, write songs and learn new ones.” honestly, I don’t know how bands do it night in and night out. Maybe it’s that music is their job. In this band, we all have wives, kids, jobs, and many other schedules and commitments to consider before we play. Gotta pay the bills first, you know?

So I for one am looking forward to a little time off to refocus and chart out a plan for 2012. I think I want to do small tours with national acts, get signed by a good label and get our music on the radio, as well as have enough material to record a full length CD in 2012. We’re getting great feedback about “Commandment,” “Drive Thru Jesus” and “Doctor,” for which live vids are on our Facebook page, salvationshousemusic. Oh, and we should play Soulfest again. That was cool. On the Revival stage though. Or at least Inside Out.

What do you all think we should or could do in 2012? Here’s a picture of a deer while you think about it.

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Aftermath

Well!  Home now, show is over.  Soulfest 2011, for me, is history, and I’ve been unable to do anything but reflect on yesterday.  You may have read that it was the first time for me & the fam, which begs for a lengthy post today.  My apologies in advance to those of you looking for a quick in & out.

The trip up was great.  We went mainly back roads, through my old stomping grounds, and when we got to Alton Bay, a flood of memories came back.  My father used to have a camp up there on the Christian Conference Center grounds, and my sister and I would spend a few weeks every year up there.  We came to the traffic circle outside of Alton, where once my sister realized she had forgotten her toothbrush.  Instead of pulling into the store RIGHT ON THE CIRCLE  my father chose to turn around and drive all the way back to North Berwick to get her toothbrush.  If there was a hard way of doing it, my father would find it.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

As we head into Alton Bay, on the left is the place where the arcade once stood.  We would spend hours in there playing Pac-Man, Galaga & Defender.  On the right is the Pavilion, where inside once was a wooden floored roller coaster rink.  We went there often as well.  Couple of bucks and you could skate all day.  On the left just up ahead is the little cove.  The camp has either fallen into the forest floor or has been overtaken by trees and is no longer visible, but I saw the beach where we used to catch crawdads.  We passed over the bridge where, as you were going from the cove  the lake itself you’d have to duck , it was so low. It was a stone archway, and reflected the yells of excited kids quite nicely.  The boats used to honk their horns as they came through it was so blind and narrow.  That stretch of road really made me miss my dad.

As we pulled into the parking lot at Gunstock, there was confusion.  Do we take the Artist lane, or the regular parking lane.  My ego put us in the artists lane.  Reality made me dodge a few cones getting into the regular parking lane.  Apparently no one has heard of Salvation’s House.  The mountain was gorgeous and the sun was hot and bright as we waited with Dean and his family for the gates to open.  I was anxious to get in there and see the great stage we would be playing on.  The line grew, but not too long, and as noon hit there arose a great cheer from the crowd.  We funneled in and headed to an area in front of the Revival stage to lay a tarp out and grab a great seat for the evening’s entertainment.  That, apparently, is the best strategy.  we watched as the crew set up Skillet’s stage.  It was impressive, and we were able to say hello to a few friends.  Mrs. G, as usual, ran into someone from Rockland she knew.  It happens everywhere we go, quite literally.

We went exploring.  There was a carnival-like atmosphere, with the vendors lining the walkway up and down.  Colleges, ministries, shirts, books, CDs (no Salvation’s House CDs in the racks either), fake tattoos, games, a skate park, camping, a little pond to kayak and paddle boat and swim in, even a ropes course, which I was going nowhere near, owing to my fear of heights.  My palms are sweating now even writing about it.  We looked at the Inside Out Stage, which was great.  All the stages were under cover this year.  Inside out was pretty big, with lights, all kinds of fancy stuff musicians love.  I was jealous, I confess.  Jealous because the Deeper Well stage, the stage we were to make our Soulfest début on, jump starting our careers on…was in the food tent.  At first, I was a little underwhelmed and disappointed, to be perfectly honest.  But there is an upside.  People were always in the food tent.  They had to roam through to really get anywhere.  We were near the meet and greet tent.  And the stage was pretty much exactly like the stages we’ve played this year.  Adequate size, just enough for what we needed, and I immediately saw this as an example of what God does.  He gives us what we need, not what we want.  Just enough, because we are not meant to live life either in excess or to excess.  The best part was that as soon as I saw the stage, I felt my nerves settle right down.  We were home.  I had a good laugh again at my pride, that’s for sure.  Hey, we were at Soulfest!!

We hung out, checked out other bands for short periods, tried to stay cool and waited for Tim and Gerry to show up.  They did, and we grabbed our gear, loaded it in Dean’s van and headed over to the VIP area to load in.  VIP is a fancy way of saying roped off every which way from Sunday.  We grabbed our stuff and set t a staging area just off stage.  So, I thought, this is the green room.  And I looked around.  Two tables, no lights, an Igloo jug of water and a few styrofoam cups.  Fortunately, I had learned my lesson and set the pride aside.  Hey, we were at Soulfest!!  We set up as much as we could, listened to the crowd respond to Jim Trick, who has appeared at every Soulfest since its start, and got ready.  I sang into a towel to warm up my voice, and tried to stay cool.  I watched our sound guy, Neal, flutter around making sure things were taken care of.  The stage managers were in & out making sure we would have what we needed.  Other artists showed up. It was a busy place. Jim left the stage, cracking jokes to us, and a few women from Juice+, one of the sponsors, got up to speak.  Fortunately, we found out Jim finished early, and the sponsors only took half of their allotted time, so we were getting 10 extra minutes!  We set up quickly, got the mix dialed in to our monitors, ran through a little of “Here I Am,” and we were ready to go.  My vastly lowered expectations caused me to miss the fact that we were actually going to be introduced, so as I started into a joke, Dean had to stop me to remind me someone else was going to speak.

After the introduction, we were off and running.  There was no way I wasn’t going to bring it, and I had every confidence the rest of the guys were too.  I had my in-ear monitors so I could hear everything perfectly, Salvation’s House was sounding excellent, and there were several familiar faces in the crowd.  I couldn’t have felt more comfortable.  I was singing outside of myself, keeping my eyes open to take everything in, moving my arms, doing something that resembled dancing (for me)…it was a dream.  AND THEN…. ha.  We hit “Hanging With My Friends.” I introduce the song, and it seemed like things got quiet in my ears.  It sounded like Tim started slow. Then Dean kicked in with the guitar and it sounded like he was playing a different song!  I thought, “He must be uncharacteristically nervous but he’ll pull out of it.”  But it just kept sounding different.   So rather than stop the song or panic, I tried to adjust my singing to the music I was hearing.  But you know what?  It wasn’t Tim, Gerry or Dean.  It was my monitors, but I didn’t know it.  I had sound in both ears, it was just the wrong sound!  It was the end of the song before I realized it was a monitor issue.  So I took them out, tossed them, and finished the rest of the set with sound from Gerry and Dean’s wedges.  And it went really great.  We finished exceptionally well, I think, got to cap it off with our version of “Shine” by Collective Soul…it was a rock star dream.  I was sweaty, tired, sore (this really is a young man’s game, but in my head I’m still 25), and on top of the world.  The sound of that crowd when we finished was unbelievable.  It’s like audible crack, if you know what I mean.  The crowd had grown some since “Hanging” ended, and they liked what they heard, by the looks of their faces.  I was confident, my voice was strong, and even my son to Mrs. G. said something like, “Wow Mom, what got into Pete?  Usually I spend the whole time watching Tim!”  It was just that kind of night.  Other than a little hiccup, it was technically probably the best show we’ve ever played.

The evening ended with us changing our minds and staying to see Skillet because Dean, Tim and Gerry all said even if we didn’t like the music the show was something to behold. As I walked up to the Revival stage to join the rest of the crew, i was hoping I hadn’t missed he beginning.  I rounded the corner and was taken aback at the crowd, which had swelled to several thousand from the last time I’d seen it.  I was hungry, exhausted and raring to see this show!  I’ll sum it up by saying this:  WOW.  The guys were right, and we even liked the music.  My 62-year old mother even liked the music and the show!  Pyro and strobes are definitely the way to go.  Smoke, moving lifts, and a violin and cello.  Even a monster head with lighted eyes.  Doesn’t fit with our motif, but we may find a way to work it in!

Bottom line is this:  it was a dream come true.  We set a goal of playing Soulfest when we first got together in March of 2009.  We thought we’d be ready that summer.  We knew we were ready this summer.  And now we set new goals.  Mine to come back and play the Revival Stage, hopefully next year.  One goal is definitely to return to play next year. We can be the next Paul Colman or Jim Trick and just be a Soulfest fixture.  It was a distinct pleasure to represent Portland, Maine, our families, churches, fans, PraiseJam and Frank Marston’s First Fruit Ministries this year.  It brings a new fire to our ministry, which we will show you next Saturday, August 13th, when we play with Exit 244 at LifeChurch Gorham at 6:30p for “Back(pack) to School.”  If you can come, bring a new (doesn’t have to be expensive) backpack with you, a chair, and your good ears.  In the words of Skillet, we’re gonna rock some faces off!

Blessings – Pete

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Is it me?

Manic Drive is INSANELY LOUD. I can feel this music more than I can hear it or understand it. It’s too bad, too, because I bet the kids would really like these guys. I think it was Gene Simmons from Kiss who said once “if it’s too loud, you’re too old.” I am beginning to wonder about myself. Let’s say Salvation’s House rocks at an acceptable decibel level and leave it at that.

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In the holding pattern

Wow. I said I’d blog but this place is crazy! I have already been sunburned, i’ve eaten, played a lousy round of minigolf and we’re waiting for Paul Colman to take the main stage. It’s cooling off, dark clouds are making their way over the mountain but we’re seated, fed and happy. Some friends from Maine are here which was a big surprise! We have a little bit before we have to start working, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy Paul Colman!

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Soulfest-bound

As my family and I get ready to leave for Soulfest this morning, I find myself quite nervous. Wen we got together two years ago, we set Soulfest as a goal. We thought we were ready back in ’09. Now here we are, and I’m wondering if we are actually ready. It will get bigger, because God has bigger plans for us, but this is a really important step in the history of this band.

I’ll try to blog throughout the day, if you’re paying attention. Too cool. This is like what Jesus wants us to look at Heaven: as a child, with wonder and amazement.

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Counting Blessings

Last week Salvation’s House played a benefit called “Fighting C.H.A.O.S. With Faith,” to help a little girl and her family as she heads to Philly for her third major surgery to correct what this disease has done and to hopefully give her her voice back.  It was a good show, with many talented artists, good food and excellent company.

We were treated, after we finished singing, to Faith singing “Shut The Door.” I will try to post the video on our facebook page this week.  After finishing an hour and a half set, what a blessing it was for us to get that girl up on stage and have her sing in her own way.  You see, when Faith talks, or sings, it comes out sounding like a faint Daisy Duck.  I am not poking fun at all, it’s just something you have to train your ear to understand.  As a father, I know that regardless of the sound, it fills your heart to hear your children speak, and Faith’s mom and dad are no different.  How proud her mom was of Faith as she was singing!  I know lots of people whose eyes moistened.

This was an event to raise money, and as we were packing up the stage and sound equipment, someone came over and let us know that after all the event bills were paid (all the bands donated their time) they had raised almost $2400 and there was still some left to be counted from the sale of the rubber bracelets.  Blessed again!

I thought that was the end of it, and was pretty proud of all who attended and gave.  But as we were waiting to play a show Saturday night, someone came up to me and asked if I’d “heard.”  Usually, that doesn’t mean anything good.  I prepared for the worst, and as I answered “No” he said someone had called our drummer Tim and anonymously donated another $2000!!  Blessed yet again!

Here’s the point: there is alot to complain about in this world.  Heck, I find most of it myself, and I know I have to work on it.  But if we remember that gas prices, or finding cucumbers that are too soft at the grocery store are just minor inconveniences compared to what others are faced with, and if we look a little harder to se the good and start expecting the good in our lives, God will answer.  The biggest blessing in this story was the third.  What number are you on?

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For Faith

This Friday Salvation’s House plays a benefit for a little girl named Faith, who has a disease called C.H.A.O.S.  It is very rare, and she has had it since birth.  It has taken her voice, and sadly, all this seven-year-old wants to do is sing in her church.  This fall, she will travel to Philadelphia for her third major and close to 40th overall surgery, and doctors hope this will be the one.  The money we raise will go to defray the expenses of tolls, meals, rent at the Ronald McDonald House of South Jersey where her mother will stay during the ordeal, and to help cover bills while Faith is in the hospital and her mother can’t work.

We receive updates on Faith’s spirits as the day of the show draws closer, and every time without fail, she is getting more and more excited.  She seems to LOVE music, and luckily for us, it’s what we do!

We raised a little money at a show last week, and we would like to raise more to add to what the show will bring in.  If it’s on your heart to give, would you consider sending a check of any amount to “Fighting C.H.A.O.S. With Faith” to Salvation’s House, c/o Ossipee Trail Motor Sales, 439 Ossipee Trail, Gorham, ME  04038?  All, and we do mean all proceeds will go straight to the family.  We will gladly accept any donations even after the show, because this will be a long road for Faith and her family.

If you could see this girl light up when the music starts, you would know why we care.  Thank you in advance for giving, and God bless you.  See you Friday in Oxford.

Pete, http://www.salvationshouse.com

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