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Essays on Todd from family and friends

Karen Cronin, Todd's aunt

Hi family,

I just wanted to share my different responses to Todd’s CD. It took me a week or two before I could listen to it. One Saturday while riding around doing my errands, I put it on. Although I knew it was wonderful for sure, I listened with sad ears, teary eyes and an aching heart. I’ve been thinking of Todd more than usual of late. Perhaps it’s the making of his last CD, or the nearing of the one year anniversary of his new life. It’s neither here nor there, I suppose, but I can’t help thinking wherever we all are in our individual journeys of living without Todd’s presence, God’s timing is ever so perfect.

I listened to Todd’s CD a second time and found myself smiling, but again through teary eyes. This time I was in such awe of his growth as a writer, singer and disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. I heard his faith and trust coming through each verse and how much he so depended on this wonderful God of ours to meet each day. My heart felt more lifted by his words this time, I think because I knew he was in a place of acceptance born through the trust he had been given. I listened a third time, and my heart was moved to joy by this wonderful young man taken from us far too early in his life, shared his heart of hearts in song of struggle, pain, trust, fear, total dependence, joy and most of all his deeply profound love of his Savior. The courage and honesty shining through his deepest thoughts, feelings and prayers was beyond anything I’ve ever heard put to pen and music. I expect to hear more of Todd’s messages from his heart each time I listen to this CD. These are truly songs that require one’s contemplation.

Todd and I exchanged many emails over his last 3 years of life, such an inspiration and catalyst in my own faith he was to his auntie. Little did I know this baby I held, marveling at the longest fingers I have ever seen in my life on a new born (I remember wondering what they would be used for) would be such a gift to me in my own pilgrim’s journey. How blessed we all are to have shared in his life and mostly his journey of faith. Todd has left us with a precious gift to carry us through till we see him again.

I’ll close with a verse Todd sent to me in 2009 shortly after his surgery:

Thank you for your prayers for safe, effective treatment. And, more importantly, your prayers for my faith - that I will love the Lord for the gift of cancer. That he will allow me the joy of seeing some of his purpose in all of this. And that these words of Paul will be the cry of my heart...

"It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21).

I love you,

God bless,

Carrie Marshall, close friend and backup singer for Todd

Being able to help Todd bring his last project to fruition was a privilege and bittersweet joy. Going over his music, transcribing his lyrics and choosing some of the Scriptures to preface his songs were part of my responsibilities. And doing so was like having Todd by my side! We used to discuss songs, lyrics, Scriptures and our respective CD projects together in Nashville quite a bit, so I wanted to make sure everything was right for his sake. (He was always particular about every single note and word...and photos…and graphics…!) But to hear his heart poured out through the melodies and words of his latest project reminded me that relationships are eternal. Knowing Todd made me a better person, but his legacy of music continues and still points us to the Savior. He's just reached the top of the mountain before us in this climb we all take. We'll have a lot to catch up with in heaven, but the adventure will continue. Love you, Todd. See you at the top!

Bruce Marshall, close friend and backup singer for Todd

It has meant so much to have had a small part in helping to pull together Todd's CD. The role that Todd has played in so many lives goes well beyond words and melodies, but this CD gives us a window of how Todd thought through the trappings and blessings of this life and most importantly, the life everlasting with our Savior. I miss my brother dearly and take comfort in the fact that I will see him again someday.

Paul Buono, producer for Todd’s albums

I had the great pleasure of being able to collaborate with Todd over the past several years, helping him to produce his songs and watch him develop as a recording artist. Apart from Todd being tremendously talented as a musician and song writer, he was a wonderful person. We quickly became very close friends, and knowing that Todd trusted me with his music was such a great honor and privilege, because we all know how "picky" Todd could be about things… especially when it came to his music. (Well, at least I was well aware of that.)

I think Todd's latest project "World Full Of Wonder" is his best work to date, and basically his entire life story is summed up in that group of songs. Who he was, what he stood for, his faith, his deepest beliefs and feelings all come out in this collection of 12 songs. What a gem to have this as our reminder of him. This was Todd's gift to us so we could always feel close to him just by listening, Please enjoy listening to it as much as Todd and I enjoyed recording it.

"Todd...I love you and miss you my brother,,. my friend".

Meme Stephens, fellow musician and close friend

Todd lived his life here on earth with great JOY! He sought to be IN God's Will and live a life pleasing to his maker. His music was a beautiful extension of that love, devotion and joy. He was infectious with it. We all experienced his joy when he sang, when he played the songs he wrote meticulously on his guitar. We all experienced it when he spoke, when he giggled and smiled. I will miss everything about Him but rejoice in this, that Todd was not cheated by death but rather was swallowed up in life, the Life of the resurrection of Christ which He so longed to know here and now knows fully in Heaven. Todd's life was a beautiful song, it is fitting his songs go on! I Love you Todd.

John Ramirez, minister and mentor

I first met Todd when he was still a student at BU. I realized his wonderful talent even then and began using Todd in worship settings and then as a campus minister. As Todd grew in his faith, I saw a gentle young man grow strong in resolve and drive. I count it a tremendous privilege to have been a part of the early years of his writing and maturing musical talent. One of the greatest gifts that God ever gave me was when he debuted his song "Fly Eagle Fly" and told me he wrote that after he heard me preach one night and use an illustration of an eagle who thought he was a chicken.
As Todd grew rock-solid in his doctrinal beliefs, our talks often turned to "grace," always reminding him that as often as we fail, God's grace grows stronger. I am comforted by the theme of grace that is sewn into the fabric of all his writing. When I visited Todd in Nashville after the illness began to take its toll, the tears might flow for just a little while, but the guitar would soon be fetched and another new song introduced.

Although it is apparent that Todd's life touched thousands of people, he had the rare ability to make everyone feel like the only one in the room with Todd. I truly believe that The Father created only a handful of people with Todd's gentleness and strength. He was not spared a rough journey, but taught all those around him the peace that came in walking walk hand in hand with his Heavenly Father. Now after the beautiful strains of Todd's edifying music fade, I honor him by playing "our song." Every visit ended with "her name was Lola. She was a showgirl." What a fitting way to end time together. Laughter; big, loud, long irreverent laughter! That was Todd. And that is what I miss.