I have a story. But before I start with my drama-filled narrative, I gotta say that this week has been most excellent. I had a great day at work Monday…good work out-prayer-worship planning time with my pastor…fun day with the worship staff (minus my interns, who are in Italy on choir tour…I wonder what they’ll bring their boss back from Italy???!!!!)…and a relaxing Monday night at home. Pretty much the perfect Monday.

Then on Tuesday I headed to Franklin to record piano on a track for the new project, then jump into recording some vocals. However, after recording the piano and grabbing some lunch with Producer Paul, we went back to the studio only to find out that someone working in a yard next door had inadvertently cut the electricity line underground. Fun times. So he sent me away to run some errands and waste some time while we waited on the electric company to come fix the problem. I ended up with something in my day that I haven’t had in ages: MARGIN. I had 4 1/2 hours of nothing completely pressing on my agenda. It was nice. I spent most of it sitting in the Cool Springs Starbucks, beating down my inbox.

Starbucks is an interesting place to people watch. I had to laugh as I thought about how me and all of the cool young people in there were all probably listening to same thing in our tricky little white earphones: Chicago 17. Or maybe not.

Anyway, it was a restful and much needed time to BREATHE. The power came back on in the studio around 5:30, and I finished one song.

I finished another song Wednesday morning, before heading back to Jackson for band and choir rehearsal Wednesday night.

So…here’s my story. You may have seen me talking about it on twitter.

Last weekend, we had a women’s conference at our church. I was leading worship, and Angela was the teacher for Friday night (she was amazing). As I was heading to the church around 5pm on Friday, I loaded a bunch of stuff in my car. Angela had a lot of big props and stuff to take, and I had my usual handful of stuff. Of course, being a man, I was going to do whatever it took to only make one trip to the car. It’s just what we do. Leave us alone.

So I loaded 47 or so things in my arms and made my way to my car in front of the house. In order to be able to open the back car door, I put my laptop on top of the car.

Pause. Take it in. You know where this is going already.

I then proceeded to put everything else in the car. Some things in the back seat. Some things in the trunk. When I finished and had *everything* put away, I jumped in the driver’s seat, puled out of the driveway and headed to church.

Five minutes later, I pulled into the church parking lot. When I’m moving with purpose and excitement, I’m always thinking about and planning my next steps. So as I parked the car I started thinking to my self, ‘Take this in first and then that and then that and oh, do I even need to take my compu…’

And it was in that very second of time that I knew what I had done.


I hopped out of my car. Sure enough, It wasn’t on the roof. It wasn’t in the trunk. It wasn’t in the back seat.

I ran the stuff that Angela needed into the church, then got back in the car and headed home. I called the baby sitter and the kids, who were at the house, and asked them to go out into the driveway and look for the laptop, which they did. But to no avail.

So I got home, and began to slowly retrace my path from the house to the church. Slowly, and with my hazards on. It wasn’t on the driveway. It wasn’t on our winding country road. It was nowhere to be found. So far.

My mind began racing. What am I going to do? Everything…EVERYTHING I need for work is on that computer. All of my pictures of my wife and kids and life are on that computer. All my music charts. Everything.

I guess now would be as good a time as any to say that I’m the moron who didn’t often back up his computer. And by ‘not often’ I mean I HAD NEVER BACKED UP THIS COMPUTER in the year I’d owned it.

I called Angela and asked her to pray. But I tried to keep my voice UP and not sound too worried…she was getting ready to speak to hundreds of women, and I didn’t want her to be distracted. It was kind of like saying, “Hi, honey! We’re on the Titanic and it’s about to sink! But YAY! I love to swim and everything’s going to be ALRIGHT so just pray and ALL IS WELL nevremind me pay no attention to the man behind the curtain all’s well that ends well and I’m freaking out but you just keep getting ready nervous hub bub hub bub hub bub.”

So my journey looking for the computer continued. I called Pastor Ben to ask him to pray for us. No sooner had I uttered the sentence ‘I need you to pray for me’ did I begin to see something on the road up ahead. I didn’t even take time to tell him what was going on…what I needed prayer for…or why there was such panic in my voice. I just shouted “I’ll call you back!” and hung up the phone and fixed my eyes on the black square in the left lane of the interstate, just a few yards ahead of me. I passed it.

It was my computer.

I pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway and got out of the car. I waited for the traffic to clear, all the while cars were zooming over my computer. When the coast was clear, I ran and grabbed it and jumped back in the car. The Incase sleeve it was in was torn and mangled, and pretty much destroyed. I took it out of that and opened it up to see that the screen was shattered, the frame was bent, and the whole thing was marked up badly. The bottom of it was now curved like the bottom of a canoe.

But. It was on. Everything seemed to be on the desktop that was supposed to be. The tracking pad worked, and I was able to open up some applications and documents. I couldn’t believe it. I made my way back to the church (with the computer inside the car this time) and took it straight to James, the technical guru at my church. He immediately began to back it up.

The conference got underway and we had a great night. When it was time to go home, I went to check on it to see if it had finished backing up. It hadn’t. In fact, it wasn’t backing up at all anymore. It had locked down where it was, and wouldn’t do anything anymore. Nothing.  Rats.

So Saturday after the conference was over at noon, I took it to the Apple Store Genius Bar in Memphis. The conversation went something like this:

“So, tells us what’s going on with your computer today.”

“Well, it got run over by cars on the interstate.”

“Really? Hmm.” Pause. “Can I ask how it got on the interstate?”

“Yes you can.” Pause.

“So, how did the computer get on the interstate?”

“I’m not telling you.”

But then I came clean and revealed what an idiot I was. She took the computer and disappeared into the back for a while. I waited nervously at the desk, quite honestly not feeling very hopeful. Frankly, I had been careless and irresponsible, and didn’t expect any grace from the Apple people.

Then she reappeared.

“Well, obviously accidents like this are not covered under the AppleCare program. But we are going to make a one-time exception. We are going to try to fix your computer at no cost to you.”

I was shocked. Speechless. Elated. Seriously couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I might have teared up just a little. Not really. I had already looked like enough of an idiot. But I was dumbfounded.

“Really? REALLY?”

“Yes. Now, we can’t do anything with your hard drive, but I suggest you take it and try to get it backed up as soon as possible. We’ll call you when we’ve fixed your computer.”

I couldn’t believe it. I still had a big dose of sadness in my heart, because I still didn’t know if I was going to be able to get to the things on my hard drive that meant so much to me. But at least there were rays of hope. Honestly, though, I wondered if they were just pretending to try to fix it, just for the good press, when in reality they knew it was beyond hope.

I’m wearing myself out with this story. If you’re still with me, I’ll go ahead and skip to the end. I took my hard drive to church the next day and gave it to another tech guru friend at church, Jay, and he went to work on it. Result – he was able to back up the hard drive and save everything. I was so happy, I could’ve out-shined the supermoon (thank you, Jay!).

That was Sunday. Then on Tuesday, I got a voice message from the Apple Store. “Mr. Cottrell, this is so-and-so at the Apple Store in Memphis. Your computer is fully repaired and ready to be picked up. Please let us know if you have any questions.”


I still can’t believe it all happened.

Let me stop right here and say: the customer service I’ve received from Apple at any point in my Mac-owning experience has never been anything other than amazing. Truly. This company knows how to do customer service. Thank you, Apple people.

This was my fault. I was careless. I was irresponsible.  Still, I was shown mercy. I did not get what I deserved.

You know what that makes me think? That’s the story of my life. Yours, too (See Romans 5:8).

Now. I’m going to go back this computer up. Have a great day. Go show somebody some mercy today. You’ll be glad you did!