Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I went to a late movie last night with JV, Philip Henry and Dan Henderson. We saw "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events". I have heard mixed reviews on it, but I LOVED it. It was just weird enough to be really great! The only downside, and for me it's a huge downside, was that one of the sections of the movie featured snakes. Lots of snakes. Huge snakes. Small snakes. Snakes, snakes, snakes. I HATE SNAKES! When the huge snake jumped at the kids I jumped and I think I might have screamed. I just lost it--popcorn and all on the floor. Did I mention that I hate snakes? No amount of peer pressure can change this. I realize it's dorky. But hey--it is what it is.

Before we put the girls in bed last night they were playing so sweetly. Maddie had her new princess night gown on and her pink play high-heeled shoes. She and Ella were walking around hand in hand pretending to be on some exciting journey. I was thinking yesterday as we were at a play area at the mall how much our lives will change if this new baby is a boy. I just had to laugh as I watched the boys at this play area. They thought very little of jumping from the tallest slide or tackling someone. Boys are just more active. Our girls are pretty active, but in a different way. It will be interesting to see what is to come. We find out in a week and a half!

David and Becky Rubio had their baby today. We are so thrilled for them--especially Becky. Her name is Charity Ann. YEA, RUBIOS!!

Tonight we are having a service centered around testimonies and thankfulness for what God has done this year. It should be a great night.

Please be praying for my mom. She's still feeling really awful and needs to be feeling better very soon. Thanks!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Maddie's prayer tonight:

"Dear God, thank you for everything and for church and for Jesus. Thank you for my toys and Mommy and my jumpy thing. Thank you for my friends and for Indians and pilgrims. Thank you that Jesus loves me. In Jesus name we pray, 'ay-meee-an'"

The minds of children! Precious times. Have a great night!

I think the service yesterday went well. The choir sounded great, the kids did well (Caleb Carney read scripture with gusto, and Julianne Cox and Abby Brown sang "Away In A Manager" with the choir backing them up and sounded PERFECT!) It was a great morning to celebrate the meaning of the gift of Jesus. I'm not sure I still fully understand that gift.

Last night we went out to Cool Springs and had some pasta at Macaroni Grill. It was a nice change of pace from Christmas food. We got home and just enjoyed having the house to ourselves and crashed after a long weekend.

Today we braved the Galleria with a million other people trying to return gifts. The highlight of the day was lunch with the Rubios at the food court. David is our youth minister and Becky (his wife) is one of Sheryl's favorite freinds. Madeline and Benson are favorites of our girls too. Becky is really ready to give birth. REALLY ready. Only a couple more weeks, hopefully.

It's hard to believe that Ella will be two next week. We're having a New Year's Day celebration for her birthday. Maybe we'll have a black eyed pea cake. Gross.

Everyone is beginning to feel better after being sick all of Christmas week and weekend. (Ella barfed all over her stocking Christmas morning) My mom is really the last one to recover. She's staying in bed one more day to try and beat this thing. This particular cold that has gone around has been especially nasty. Coughing spasms and lots of snot. Sara, thanks for the word on "airborne". I already had some and have been taking it like crazy!!

I am only working Wednesday of this week. I am so thankful to have the time off! I hope you all are enjoying some time off too this week. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Luke 2...from the message:

"Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him!"

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "let's go over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." The left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. SEEING WAS BELIEVING! They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told.

Later in chapter 2...

Simeon went on to bless Mary, Joseph, and Jesus saying to Mary,
"This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted-
the pain of a sword thrust through you-
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are."

As I read this today, it struck me--Simeon's words are as true for our generation as they were then. The beauty, majesty, servant-like spirit, and calling of Jesus cause our true hearts to be revealed. Do we "adore Him" only, or do we also follow him? Do we proclaim "Joy to the world, the Lord HAS come" only? Or do we also "receive our King"--and all He means, realizing that the Lord is here? Even at his birth, there was foreshadowing of the hard road ahead.

This gift brings with it ultimate healing, complete forgiveness, restoration, Life, and hope. As we fully adore Him and receive our King, let us also let go of all that isn't of Him. His gift of love has caused a revolution in our hearts against the chains and plans of the enemy. In Jesus name we bind all oppression. We bind all addiction. We call on His power to break all strongholds and cause His servant love to be poured out in our hearts and in our world. Grudges can be softened and loosened. Negativity can be replaced with mercy. Marriages in trouble have hope. Lost family members can be treated with love, respect, and mercy--as Jesus has treated us. This gift of love has changed us, changed our world, and changed our way of living forever. We can not live as though we are our own. Jesus came. He really lived and really died. What a wondrous gift of grace!

Tonight and tomorrow as we open our presents and share our love with each other, let's remember how profound the gift of Jesus is in our lives.

Lord, may that gift re-define our lives in 2005!

Blessings to all of you this weekend! Love you guys! BST

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I just laughed out loud at the thought of playing Christmas Vacation on Sunday morning--awesome. Maybe a scene from Elf?

The Spirit really put this order together for Sunday. Last week Lee camp talked about the song "Silent Night" and how ironic that thought was. There was nothing silent about what Jesus came to do. Although he was like a lamb led to the slaughter who didn't open his mouth (as Isaiah tells us), in truth, his message was extremely earth shattering, especially for the religious folks among us. Lee said that Jesus seemed to be completely intolerant of anyone who might lord over others. "The first shall be last, the last will be first." We must become as servants! Silent night--yes and no.

We're talking about the gift of Jesus to the world this Sunday. We'll have some readings by members of the choir, we're showing the clip of Linus from "A Charlie Brown Christmas", and we'll consider this notion of "silent night". During communion we'll think about the profundity of this gift. World shattering. Chain breaking. Empowering the weak. Restoration. Hope. Healing. No more "impossible". And the communion thoughts will be centered around "Mary Did You Know". Sheryl and Phil Henry and I will sing that together. Julianne Cox (Clarissa's daughter) and Abby Brown (the daughter of Melanie--one of our children's' ministers) will sing different verses of "Away in a Manger" with the choir ooohing under them. We'll book end the service with the "Hallelujah Chorus" at the beginning and "You Are Holy" at the end. Those lyrics proclaim the names of the Lord so well! I am excited about it. In spite of the horrible weather here we had almost 40 people at choir practice tonight. I was thrilled!

My idea for the morning came two weeks ago when the breakfast with Santa folks decorated the stage in the fellowship hall with huge wrapped presents. Here's the catch--we were going to transport them to the sanctuary as our backdrop...BUT, our janitor, Drew UNWRAPPED them. All of them. Bless. I wanted to kill him. All in Christmas, Christian love of course. All in fun, people. All in fun.

As I write tonight, it is raining ice. I just finished wrapping some gifts and I am on a vacation high knowing that I don't have to work the next few days and Christmas time's a comin! (It was fun to see cast members at choir rehearsal tonight. It felt like a family reunion!)

Thanks for the great ideas today--that Charlie Brown Christmas idea was awesome. I wouldn't have thought of it. Have a wonderful night before the night before Christmas!

Here's a cast picture from "A Sanders Family Christmas" taken Sunday night after the show. Pictured left to right are:
Amanda Brooks McKinney--Denise
Johnathan Vest--Uncle Stanley
Laura Troup-- June
Brandon Scott Thomas--Pastor Mervin Oglethorpe
Philip Henry--Dennis
Sonya Colvert--Vera
Steve Speake--Burl

What fun we had!! I think we're all experiencing that post show thing of being glad to have the time back but being sad it's over. I know we're all looking forward to doing "Smoke on the Mountain"!

Well, sickness has come to live at our house again. Sheryl's mom has an inner ear infection. Ella is coughing and has to be sedated with cough medicine, Maddie is snotting all over everything and everybody, and Sheryl has now come down with the cold symptoms (as has my mother). YUCK!!! Run away! I DO NOT want this.

I am working today, Sunday, and next Wednesday and those are the only work days for me over the holidays. I love vacation.

I am finishing up some plans for Sunday. We'll have the choir sing and we're going to be talking about the "gift" of Christmas. Anyone have any suggestions on dramatic readings or a children's book with this theme? (obviously, I am getting a late start here with everything else that's been going on.) I'd welcome the suggestions. I'd bet some of you children's ministers have some ideas.

Our choir this Christmas will have a neat age range--from around 5 years old to 70. It should be a special morning. Send those ideas or post them. Thanks!

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's Monday night and I am still flying high after a weekend of such fun! The show was a huge success. We all had a blast and I think people really enjoyed it. We had it professionally videoed and will have them available if anyone wants one. All three performances went really well and we had great crowds. A friend of a cast member even put up posters at a local Marriott resort and there were a couple of families who showed up as a result. It was a widely diverse crowd. Very, very much fun. Thanks to all of you who came out for the show. It was fun to see some faces of old friends.

My mom is still digging out of her one million boxes. Thanks, Deanna, for going to get some of them tomorrow. I think the hardest thing about moving is wanting to feel settled immediately. It takes a while. We went to my mom's house after church Sunday for lunch. That has never happened in my married life and I haven't even lived in the same town as my mom since 1992. It was a great moment to realize that we'll have many more times like that.

Sheryl's folks are here. We are all having fun. Tonight we played cards and laughed. It was a welcomed break after a very long week.

Mom, Maddie and I went shopping this morning and found her a table and chairs (really pretty) and a TV at Best Buy. She's getting all squared away--slowly but surely.

Tomorrow morning I am heading to the dentist. That'll be a load of fun. Tomorrow night we're going out to Opry Land to see the lights and Christmas decorations. It's really a great place to take guests around Christmas.

Sunday morning I got to go to Lee Camp's class--really awesome. You know, the message of the cross is really so offensive and wonderful. It sets worldly authority on it's ear. It takes our primal nature and turns it upside down. It begs of us that which often seems impossible. But I think it only feels that way because we are so completely immersed in this world and it's values. What I long for is to have that new heart created in me so that my actions really reflect that upside down Kingdom.

Friday, December 17, 2004

A Sanders Family Christmas opens tonight at 7pm at the Otter Creek Church in Nashville, TN!

We had a great dress rehearsal last night in front of our first audience. It went well! We are all excited and ready for this weekend. I hope some of you can make it.

My mom's moving truck didn't get here today--that means tomorrow is the official unpacking day. Mercy.

Thank you, Lord, for the past few months I've spent with these dear, hilarious people. You have gifted so many people at OC. I love seeing your creativity displayed in the lives of your children. Please help us to bring You glory tonight. Thank you for allowing us to be in a place where we can have the freedom to do things like this.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Rehearsal last night went so well. We are really ready and excited. Now--if the weather will just cooperate! The band is blowing my mind. They are so amazing!

I got home and into bed and Maddie began to cough--cough, cough, cough. Every 5 seconds. After gagging herself and lots of other things that you don't want to hear about, she came to be with us. At 1am I ended up downstairs on the couch. It was a sleepless night for most everyone in our house.

Maddie had her Christmas program this morning. I must say, she wasn't her usual animated self. She looked like a zombie. Bless. She is so tired. It was fun having my mom there--the first of many programs and events she'll get to be a part of! Here are some pictures of the events this morning.

Have a great Thursday everyone! The moving truck comes tomorrow. They will unload boxes. If anyone wants to stop by, let me know!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Join us for the hit musical comedy
Sanders Family Christmas!

December 17-19, 7pm
Otter Creek Church
Free Admission. Nursery Care Provided.

For directions or more information call 615-373-1782

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Sunday night rehearsal was just tedious. 3 1/2 hours spent on sound and EQ. ARGH!! However, last night made up for it. We had a good solid run-through. The band guys are really awesome. The cast is doing such a great job. We're getting really excited about our weekend. Having full costume, lights, sound, and instrumentalists really helps make it seem real. Here are some pictures from rehearsal last night.

Steve Speake and Sonya Colvert play Burl and Vera Sanders--the patriarchs!

Amanda plays one of the twins (Denise) and I play Pastor Mervin Oglethorpe.

Bobby Colvert plays mandolin, accordion, etc. Bennett Rye plays rhythm guitar. (Not pictured in the band are the banjo, fiddle, and upright bass players.)

More pics to come this week. My mom is on the road even now--somewhere between Dallas and Texarkana. They hope to make it to the east side of Memphis tonight. My uncle Mike is driving her. I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear their conversations for 12 hours. He has been such a sweet man to my mom. Mike has taken great care of her. I know he'll miss having her in Abilene. (My mom's other brother is living in Kansas--hi guys!)

More rehearsals tonight--all week. Last night as I was leaving Maddie said, "Daddy, please don't leave. I want you to stay here and play with me." After I removed the knife from my heart I gave her a big hug and promised to kiss her when I got home. I miss my family! Sheryl has been so amazing through all of this. She knows what Christmas and Easter are like in my job. She is a great support and encourager. I can't wait to have a night to take her out on a date!

My mom's moving truck gets here Friday. (as if there isn't enough going on this weekend!) Anyone want to come unpack a box?

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I hope you all have had a great weekend! We have enjoyed being together. Yesterday was a day of great productivity. This is my version of a weekend filled with "Fear Factor". I borrowed a ladder from a friend and climbed up into the nook above our front door. (We have a two story house and the entrance goes all the way up with a chandelier up top and a nook above the door with a large kind of bay window.) I bought some of these little pine trees recently that were pre-lit and wanted to decorate up there AND clean it. I managed to wobble up the ladder and begin the process (I am EXTREMELY afraid of heights. EXTREMELY.) While I was up there I noticed that if I reached out a bit I could grab the chandelier. I had been lamenting that there were about 8 bulbs out and had no way to get up there to change them. So, a few hours later after buying new bulbs, I climbed back up and changed all 16 of 'em. While I was standing there on the nook leaning over holding on to the chandelier, it hit me--where I was, what I was doing. I immediately broke into a sweat(think Airplane--the movie) I managed to get them all changed, but by the time I got to land I was completely wet with sweat. Is anyone else scared of heights? Good grief--it's ridiculous. It would definitely be my task on "Fear Factor" (which we DO NOT watch--it's disgusting and stupid.)

We completed our "Fear Factor" Saturday by heading to Cool Springs Mall ("Coo Sprangs Mawwl") where every other family in middle Tennessee, northern Alabama, and 50 different countries had decided to go. The hustle-bustle was kind of fun in a way. But for a guy who likes to run in and get what he's after and run like the wind, it was a tad bit overwhelming. The girls got to see Santa and they were glad for it.

This morning we are talking about community again. I am so grateful for community. I am thankful for all of you. I am thankful for all those who've been family to me for so many years. Last night Maddie was praying and out of the blue prayed for "Abbaba" (Ronnie Lorenz in Abilene). It made me almost cry. She told Sheryl on Friday that she had figured out what Poppie (my dad) looked like...he looked just like Abbaba. How do people make it with out community? I am so thankful for people at Otter Creek like the Shaubs (my Nashville family since 1995), Bernie Arnold, Scott Owings, JDS, the Williamsons, Julie and Tim, Amanda, JV, the Speakes, Lea Brown, the Englands, Jason Mc. and so many more. When I stop to think about how much God has blessed us in that regard it makes my heart leap. Thank you, Lord!

Here's our order of worship for today:

Welcome--Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer--Don Stanford/ Kyle Shepherd
Meet and greet

Praise and Worship--BST
--Praise to the Lord the Almighty
--You Are Holy
--We Fall Down/ Holy Holy Holy
--Lord You Have My Heart
--The Greatest Commands

Teaching--Tim Woodroof
--More Like You
--Christ Above Me

Supper/Offering--Tony Ross
--Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Shepherd's Close-Jim Butler
--We Shall Assemble

Have a great Sunday, everyone. I'm grateful we are bound together by the precious blood of Jesus. This season we are mindful of gifts. The gift of Jesus is especially on our hearts. I'm so thankful not only for his death and resurrection, but for the human life He lived among us. What an amazing gift!

Friday, December 10, 2004

These are a couple of pictures sent to me compliments of Debbie Riggs at the Highland Church in Abilene. Highland had their big 75th anniversary celebration last week in Moody Coliseum and Mom got to address the crowd regarding her dreams for Highland's future. I wish I could have been there. I heard it was a great day.

The walk through of the house went well yesterday. Things are looking good. For some of you old ACU folks, her realtor is Jerry Jennings--father of Christopher ("Topher"). He is such an amazing help! Thanks, Jerry! I think my mom will really be pleased with her new place.

Last night Sheryl was a co-host at the big fund raising dinner here for Rochester College (where she went before transferring to ACU). Rochester, which is in Michigan for any who didn't know, is a good school. I've been impressed with their openness to the Spirit and their new President seems like a really great man. I had a lot of friends at ACU who transferred in from Rochester (then Michigan Christian).

I stayed home and put the girls to bed and wrapped presents. The gift wrapping thing seems funny to me this year. I enjoy making the wrapping look nice and seeing the presents under the tree, but this year we have opted so far to keep the gifts in the closet...little elves love to UNwrap presents. It struck me as funny last night when I walked into the closet and there were all the gifts--nicely wrapped. CRAZY!

We begin the major rehearsals this weekend. Sunday we have a full dress rehearsal with the body mics and the band (except for the stand up bass player who can't make it). Monday the lights load in. It's all downhill from there! What a fun and exhausting week it will be. All the while, my mom will be arriving on Wednesday with my uncle. Whew!

Have a great Friday, everyone! Word of advice, check your coat pockets, always double and triple check when you write the front page bulletin article, and just go on and steer clear of everyone who's name is George Buck. He's just trouble. Ain't that right, George?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

OK--another embarrassing moment to share today. I had lunch with Phil at Baja Burrito--the MOST AMAZING PLACE! That's for you, Troy. Thanks for looking at the blog. (Troy owns Baja and is the son of Doug and Nan Smith. He went to ACU a little ahead of me)

Baja tends to be extremely crowded...lines out the door, etc. I was trying to hurry and get situated (Phil, I think you missed this part while you were getting drinks). I had a coat on I hadn't worn in a while. I reach in the pocket and felt something like a hanky or something. I pulled it out to see what it was--Maddie's Barney panties. Nice. I tried to shove them back into my pocket before anyone could notice. I saw one guy look at me and just shake his head like he was thinking, "sicko". Please...3 years ago I could barely say the word (pant***) and now they're in my pocket with Barney all over them (another creature I had at one point sworn I'd have nothing to do with). My how life changes.

Maddie had another funny this morning. She had an accident yesterday and fell on the driveway and bruised her leg. Of course--she was THRIlLED to be wearing a bandaid. She came in this morning and told me she had a bruise and that it was black and blue and smelled like blueberries. That girl!

We had a great rehearsal last night. The show is really cooking. It's set in the 1940's, right? It's a different time and place. The characters resemble the time and period. It was World War II. There are some pro-war sentiments that are potentially troublesome for a couple of folks. But--hey, this is history, not revisionist history. It was what it was. Otherwise, it's really going well.

I have meetings most of the rest of today. We're bringing in the little pin microphones that are typically used in theatrical productions. I am about to see how that will impact our technology ministry. I hope we have the volunteer ability to handle it. All lighting is loaded in on Monday. We hope to have a dress rehearsal without tech on Sunday though. Getting everyone's schedules together around this time of year is impossible. Especially now that we're adding band members and tech folks.

It continues to rain here. Schools are even closed. Wow--imagine if this were snow! I have a final walk through of my mom's house later today. I'll let you all know the update. She is supposed to move in next Wednesday!! WOW!

Names--great suggestions so far. Keep em comin!! Again--we are only looking for girl names. "Sam" will be our boy name. Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments! We are really excited. Maddie's eyes were so big when we told her. She and Ella both got to hear the heart beat. Maddie's been asking questions like, "Is the baby going to stay overnight? Will the baby live with us?" and this morning..."Mommy, do you still have that heart in your tummy? Did you sleep with it?"

Sheryl is officially due June 10, but we're betting more on around May 25th considering our other two. Thank you for your continued prayers.

So, today was my huge visit to the Vanderbilt Allergy/Sinus clinic. I knew it would be long, but had no idea what I was in for. I think Sheryl had tried to explain to Maddie before I left why I wasn't taking her to school today. When I came downstairs to say goodbye Maddie asked me, "Daddy, are you going to the doctor cause your boogers hurt?" Yeah. Pretty much.

I checked in to the clinic and about 5 minutes later a nurse called me back. She was standing there with reporters and a producer from ABC. The Nashville ABC affiliate is doing an hour long special on the Vandy clinic which will air in March. She asked me if I'd be willing to let them follow me around all day. Now I am allergy reality TV boy. I agreed and we began the experience. I was fine with most of it except when they had a camera in my face as I was being weighed. Hello? I am NOT ON "The Biggest Loser" although, perhaps I should be. It actually made the day pass quite fast. I found out that I am severely allergic to certain trees and mold. I also found out that I have rhinitis, or rhinoitis, or something. I'll have a CT scan in January (thanks to deductible) to find out what the heck that is. I left with meds and a long term prescription and plan for help. I felt good. What a great place and nice people! So, be watching March 7th for my allergy debut. (why me?)

Sheryl has a girlie party tonight. I get to hang with Maddie and Ella. I always love that time. We'll play, watch a movie and probably do baths. They are so extra funny in the bath tub. We just need a splash guard for the rest of the bathroom when they're in there!

I'm trying to recruit members for our Christmas Chorus. Since the show is completely different this year with a very small cast (7 actors, 5 musicians), I am recruiting a larger group to sing on Sunday the 26th. Anyone want to come over and join us? EVERYONE seems to be leaving town. We're not! YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAA!

Have a great day, everyone. Keep those name ideas coming. Sam is definitely our boy name (after my father). We need a good girl's name that goes well with Madeline and Ella. Classic, but cool. Ideas? (we find out in 5 weeks!)

Monday, December 06, 2004

OK--yesterday morning I needed a self-censor button. For the love! It was way worse than "feeling full as a tick". I had worn this funky denim shirt and during second service when one of our comedic elders did his closing he borrowed a shirt from the room in the inn closet and pretended to present it to me since I "clearly didn't have anything to wear." It was humorous.

Then I had to respond. I began by apologizing for the blooper in the bulletin. Bobby Colvert's name is NOT spelled "booby". Then I had to make reference to Tim's recent sphincter comment in his "we are the body" sermon. That should have been enough right there. However, in getting George back (the elder) I went on and jumped right over the edge WITHOUT realizing it. I think my comment went something like this, " Next week, I'll be writing the front article about George Buck. We'll just see how I mess up YOUR name." Yeah--It was somewhere about mid way through the last part of that sentence that I realized how that might sound and wanted to physically reach into the air to grab the words. Wow. I need a muzzle. As the laughter roared and the praise team looked at me like I had lost my mind I concluded by saying, "Maybe we should just sing our final song now." The final song? "We Are the Body of Christ". It was just a wrong 10 miunte segment no matter how you slice it.

Highland Church in Abilene, my home church, celebrated their 75th anniversary last weekend. Lynn Anderson and Mike did a great job, so I heard. What a special place that is! we went down to have fresh Krispy Kreme donuts before hitting the doctor's office. It was Sheryl's appt. and the entire family went with us. Why would you think an entire family might go to the doctor's office? Hmmm? Sheryl is 13.5 weeks pregnant!! We heard a good strong heartbeat today. We've been waiting a long time to tell until we heard the heartbeat. It's been really hard not to spill the beans to you all. God is good!

Marilyn Switzer came up to Sheryl yesterday at church and said, "I just heard about your good news! You and Brandon are the kinds of parents who SHOULD be having more babies! Congratulations!" That might be one of the coolest comments anyone has made. AND--it's way better than the typical, "Are you CRAZY?" "WOW." "Oh my--bless you." or, my favorite, "Was it on purpose?" Thanks for being so encouraging, Marilyn!

Well, that's my big news for today. Thanks for rejoicing with us. Stay tuned for "Guess that name." Have a great day, everyone!!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Breakfast with Santa was awesome yesterday. Sheryl's idea for the front of the room on stage was really cool. There were huge boxes wrapped like gifts all over the stage as tall as the ceiling. The Santa chair was right in the middle. Maddie was marginally impressed by Santa and the event in general. She was just happy to see friends. Ella, however, truly embraced the moment. Upon walking in she put her hands into fists and leaned back and said, "Whoaaaa!" She was pumped! Maddie only shook Santa's hand as she was glued to Sheryl. Ella virtually had to be peeled off Santa's lap (or Ho-ho as she calls him). It was fun to see and visit with so many.

Immediately afterwards we went to work building the stage. Russ Carney has made this happen every year for almost 9 years. He is such a pro and a giving man. Thankfully, there were enough men to make it happen quickly. Since people were there I decided that it was a great time to get my piano from my office and haul it on stage. It's a spinnet-upright. HEAVY. We got it there, mostly undamaged. As people are coming in this morning, they'll see my piano sitting on stage in all its glory. Wonder how many will do a double take. It's not the first time, but the shock value is always there. I am debating getting a table cloth and covering it. Isn't that funny? It's as if the piano doesn't really exist if there's something covering it. Church people can be so silly. I remember a couple of years ago when we were doing a big concert for Christmas we had the drum set sectioned off with the plexi glass thing. That time I opted to cover the entire monstrous thing. In the middle of worship--it was if the hand of God came down and "ripped the veil". In one swoop, the entire thing pooled off and onto the ground. Someone even remarked afterwards that it had to be a sign. I laughed. We are so kooky about those things. CofC is my family and heritage, but that deep fear and sensitivity is still something I don't get. Never have.

We spent last night cleaning the house. Life Group at our place tonight. Decorating for Christmas can be so messy!

This afternoon we have rehearsal--a full run through off script. I am excited to see how it goes. Christmas time's a comin'! Oh...and one little thing on the show. I wrote the front page article for the bulletin this week. At the end, as I was thanking people, I thanked "Booby Colvert" for leading the band. Booby. Not Bobby, Booby. I'll never hear the end of this one, and I'm afraid "Booby" won't either. Spell check failed me.

Here's our order of worship for today. We're talking about what it means to be in community with each other.

Welcome-Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer-Chris Sanders/Scott Schwieger
Meet and greet

Praise and Worship-BST
--Because We Believe
--At the Name of Jesus
--Holy Spirit, Rain Down
--Holy Ground Medley


--What the Lord Has Done In Me

Supper/ Offering-Jerry Collins
--We Are the Body of Christ

Message--Tim Woodroof
--How Sweet, How Heavenly

Shepherd's Charge
Birthday Sunday-Bob Enkema
--We Are the Body of Christ (from last time of "and to this" to the end)

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Friday, December 03, 2004

OK, so "potential new family member" is now NON-potential family member. An 8 month old Cocker is so not what we need right now. Not to mention that in her short visit to our house she immediately gobbled up Ella's PB&J sandwich right out of her hand. Major drama, as you can imagine. Nope, Libby will find a happy home with someone else who doesn't have small children.

What a day! I had lunch with an old family friend. Her parents where some of my main Spiritual influences at ACU. She and her husband were huge influences on me when I was here back in 1990 doing my internship at Reunion Records. Although she is 15 years my senior, she's always been like a big sister to me. She went through a difficult divorce 2 years ago. The "church" really treated her horribly. Friends pulled away, conversations became awkward, close friends believed the gossip that was spreading. She is good buds with Amy Grant who told her at the beginning what to expect from Christians. She was right. Amy has had to endure all kinds of ridicule and judgment from people who have no clue what her situation was. It's so much easier to judge than to walk through difficult times with My friend shared with me today that her faith is still in tact, she loves the Lord, she just can't stand Christians. How many of us have felt that way before? (I'm raising my hand.) I wish I had had a video camera with me and taped our two hour conversation. I wish people who warm the pew on Sundays could get a glimpse of how others view social Christianity. Dan Kimball (author of Emerging Church and Emerging Worship--two MUST reads) did a video interview of random people in his city asking their views on Jesus--almost 99% positive. When he asked the same people their opinion of Christians, it was the exact opposite response. We live in a culture that is shifting--we're not just in a generation gap. People are craving real, authentic faith. Hearing my friend speak of her pain today only reminded me and convicted me all over again that if we are to be about Kingdom business, it will look very different than what we're doing these days.

One last interesting moment happened tonight. After I got the girls in bed and asleep (Sheryl is decorating for Bfast w/Santa) I went outside to continue draping white lights over bushes...something that once you begin you're sort of committed to seeing through to the bitter end. Camille, our neighbor across the street lost her 33 year old husband last year to Lou Garrick's disease. Her mother who had moved in to help with Jeff found out she had cancer and died within a few months. Needless to say, it's been a rough year for her. As I was slaving away covering bushes, Camille appeared in our driveway with a warm, fresh out of the oven, coconut pie. She apologized for not being a "good neighbor" and not being around so much lately. I wanted to crawl under the pavement. I've had a lot of great intentions there and have had very little follow through. Here she was being Jesus to me. We had a great conversation and I hope she's coming to our life group soon on Sunday night. I was convicted of Kingdom again tonight. We need to make time to be with her.

It's been one of those days where the Lord speaks in strange ways. I needed to hear His voice like this. He is good to show himself in unlikely places. He is good to strip me of self absorption and wake me up to the real hurts of those right under my nose. He is good to remind me AGAIN of what we're here to do and be much of which happens OUTSIDE the church building. Thank you, Lord for your mercy!

Let's see...what to talk about TODAY. Politics? Sex? Gay Marriage? Nah...I think I'll hold off on those topics. (sorry to all the anonymous commenters out there) Overall, some really great discussion yesterday. Thanks for contributing to it. I really appreciated the spirit of people like JDS and Notgonnatellya. Why can't we talk about all difficult things with that kind of approach? Thanks, guys.

Christmas Time's A Comin!! That song opens the show--Sanders Family Christmas. I was singing it in my head at 4:30 this morning after Ella woke up crying and eventually, unlike her father, went back to sleep. "Can't ya hear them bells ringin', ringin', joy, joy to hear them singin'! When it's snowin' I'll be goin' back to my country home." OVER and OVER and OVER. ugh. Then when that one finally subsided (I tried to use the tune of Jesus Loves Me to wipe my mental pallet), my mind made a medley of "Christmas Time's a Comin" and "I'll Be Home With Bells On"--also in the show. If I could have found Dolly to strangle her, I would have at 5:30am.

I hope those of you in the Nashville area are planning to come. (Dec 17, 18, 19 @7pm) I don't think I've been as excited about something in a long time. It's really been fun.

My mom is having a very emotionally draining week. The Highland Elders asked her to come to their meeting on Wednesday night where they blessed her with words and with prayer. It was overwhelming, I'm sure. (What a great practice! Do any of your elderships bless those moving?) Yesterday, she was at the Abilene City Council meeting (she's helping with the building of the new and improved Abilene Public Library). Norman Archibald who is now Mayor had her stand and they gave her a real send off there too. Today she has a going away party at the NCCIL National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature). Mom has been very instrumental in getting it up and going. The other board members will miss her greatly. After that party, she is going to Sam Thomas Elementary (the school named after my father). They are taking a panoramic picture of the entire student body with my mom standing in front of the school. Pretty cool! (Christopher Paul and Lauren--2 of the Lorenz's grandkids) will be standing right beside her. These are precious, precious people and memories.

I told her last night that she's really receiving such a gift. Most people never get to hear such accolades while they're living. She is so loved. It makes my heart just spill over to think of the friends and family we have in Abilene. Thank you, THANK YOU to all of you in Abilene who have loved us and will continue to love us. It will always be home. I can't imagine what it will be live for Mom to get in the car with her brother, Mike, and drive out of town knowing that she is leaving.

Last night was so much fun. I rented Elf and we spent our night in the den decorating and watching Will Ferrell. What could be better? There are so many great moments in that movie. The girls were just giddy with excitement. Ella ran around saying "I want Ho-Ho" and Maddie helped hang decorations. At one point both girls were wrapped in the colored lights I was trying to strategically place on the tree. It is an art, you know. We had a great time.

Tomorrow is breakfast with Santa at OC. Sheryl will be up here late tonight decorating with some other moms. We're also meeting a potential new family member... Libby. She's a beautiful black cocker spaniel. We'll see how everyone gets along.

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the best of this season. In spite of the commercialism, selfishness, and greed--there are so many great things about the Christmas season. New Life, hope, the spirit of giving, realizing God's gift to us in Jesus Christ, laughter, an excuse for families to be together, hot chocolate, peppermint ice cream...yes, I still eat ice cream in the winter! May God bless you all this weekend.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Isn't it interesting that when a sensitive topic is raised and people have strong feelings about it, there tend to be mostly anonymous posts? What is the deal with that? Come on, blog family--if it's worth saying, it's worth signing. None of the comments were offensive--I enjoyed hearing all the perspectives. It seasons the conversation. But--anyone in ministry who has received the lovely anonymous letter will agree with me. If it's worth saying, it's worth signing. I even got a note once on one of our yellow "encouragement" cards that was anything but encouraging. I guess the writer felt justified in using that card by starting the admonition with, "Let me encourage you to...." It was mean spirited and of course, anonymous. Anyway, say it with me bloggers out there, "If it's worth saying, it's worth signing."

Now, on to better things. We had a great rehearsal last night. I didn't think we'd need all three hours for music, but we used every last second. It really helped to get that music into our physical blocking and action. I am getting so excited about this show. It's something completely different than we have ever done. I hope people enjoy it.

My sinus infection continues to rage. I think I have had this for 7 months now. Seriously. It goes away and comes back...every other week or so. I am going to Vanderbilt on Tuesday to spend 4 hours with doctors who will poke me, stab me, etc. in an effort to find out what is going on. I am also convinced that these problems have exacerbated my vocal issues. I am hopeful that there might be a solution that will help both things. I'd really appreciate your prayers.

Speaking of problems being exacerbated (just had to use that one more time), my office looks like something off of "Clean Sweep"! Seriously, I need some major help. It's disgusting. I haven't seen the top of my desk in months. I have costumes all over the place, sombreros, coats people have left after rehearsals, coffee cups, water bottles, music--maybe close to a million sheets here and there, my to-go salad container sitting on the floor next to me, books not in bookshelves, CDs not in cases and not on shelves, pictures, bills...IT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!! The thing is, with everything going on with the show right now it's virtually impossible to keep order, but as much as I'd like to blame it on that, this has become the norm in here. NO MORE! Come December 30th it's CLEAN SWEEP in BST's office! Stay tuned.

Anyone watching "The Real Gilligan's Island"? I've admitted before, we love some dumb shows like that. Last night while I was at rehearsal late, Sheryl watched "Nanny 911". Maybe someone could come do a reality show on the building campaign. It would have strong characters, a lot at stake, strong opinions, deep emotions, and the future of OC weighing in the balance. I appreciate the time and energy people like Becky Cowart and others have put into this. No one is paying them. They have gone the extra mile and paid the price. Becky is one of our ministry coordinators (what we call our deacons). No matter how we feel about the project itself, she deserves our thanks for all her efforts and for her deep love for this place. Sometimes I think, just like in politics, it's difficult to step outside your strong opinions and treat each other like human beings. What did CS Lewis call it...our almost but not yet glorified selves? Seeing each other as children of God and not as an issue or an opinion. Really hard to do, isn't it? I'm working on it. I have a long way to go, but I am working.

Have a great day, blog family. We will be at home tonight putting up the "Santa tree". I'm so looking forward to just being home! The Santa tree is a smaller, skinnier Christmas tree that goes in the den by the fireplace. The girls will enjoy putting more ornaments on the tree. You can tell where they have decorated--there are usually like 30 ornaments on two limbs.

Peace of Christ to you today!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Great staff party last night! The white elephant thing is always fun with that group. Counting spouses, there were thirty one of us there last night. The gifts ranged from a wall hanging of an old boro to a Santa Christmas ornament that everyone fought for. I ended up with a lego racing car and Sheryl ended up with cook books--another fought for item!

I am definitely in the holiday spirit! We will have Sheryl's parents and my mom at our house this year. So fun! We're counting down the days now until Mom moves. I know so many of you in Abilene will be sad to see her go. I am sad to see her leave Abilene. But--my excitement for her being here certainly outweighs it. What it means is that all you friends who've been promising to come see us in Nashville will finally have to make good on your promise!

We've just been in a discussion about how to create head room here over the next couple of years. Ultimately, it will mean going back to the dreaded 3 services. YUCK. One idea is to have a Sat night service. We could do all sorts of neat things there. We've had it before, but this would be more of a permanent thing--at least until we get to our new place. Can someone just wake me up when the "Reach" campaign is over? While I am mostly on board now with the move, the campaign is still bothersome to me. My brother-in-law told me that their church in Arkansas is doing the same thing...except theirs is called "Realize the Dream" or something like that. Did I totally screw it up, Chris? It all has that same "slick" feel to me. It's no secret I have felt that way here. God works in spite of us--thankfully. No one needs that more than I do.

It seems like it's always either Wednesday or Sunday. Sheryl and I joke about that around the house--it seriously does seem like that. It's Wednesday again--that means loooong days and long nights. Rehearsal tonight is aimed at music. We need it. It will be nice to have a 3 hour music rehearsal.

I'm headed over to John Catchings in a minute. John is one of our very accomplished artists here at the Creek. We're all proud of him. Just about any Christian music CD you pick up will have his name on it as the cellist. He's played for the Symphony, on Letterman and Leno, with Michael Card for MANY years, and is just a great man of God. He's selling his keyboard and I am hoping to buy it for the Creek. So--off to test it out! Have a great day, everyone!

Feliz Navidad. Noche de paz and all that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I am sure we all have stories to share from our Thanksgiving holiday. We had a long trip to Arkansas after sitting on I65 for an hour and 45 minutes waiting on a wreck to be moved. I kept thinking about all the people in that long interstate line. Where were they going? How had that wreck messed up their plans? How would the holidays be affected for the people involved in the wreck?

It was nice to be in Cherokee Village. There's absolutely nothing to do. It forces you to relax and slow down. The girls were so excited to see their grandparents. Our dog, Bear, was extremely happy to be on a family trip and enjoyed the turkey bone she had on T-Giving. We enjoyed time with Sheryl's parents. Chris and Gail, Cindy and Billy and all the kids were so much fun to be around too.

Sunday morning we went to the Ash Flat Church of Christ...not quite as backwoods as one might expect. I'd venture to say that Ash Flat is one of the more progressive churches anywhere out there. However, I couldn't help but be struck with the cultural influences. Everything was laid back--the song leader actually said from the pulpit after being asked from the pews to repeat what song number it was... "I've told you twice, now everybody listen up and let's sing!"

There was a flag by the stage and while the singing wasn't devoid of emotion, an emotional current came forth as we all rose and sang "My Country Tis Of Thee". Can you recall those lyrics? I promise, I'm not anti government, but that seems a weird song to be sandwiched into a worship period. "Of Thee I sing?????" I've always marveled at how church members can trod through praise songs and then come to life in honor of veterans or of our country. It always makes me feel like I am in a Kiwanis Club meeting instead of a worship service.

Having said that, I am glad there's a church as genuine and loving as Ash Flat for the Rathbuns to attend. They really love it and I am so glad that it's a place where at least there aren't sermons on how clapping is a sin or other ridiculous notions like that.

One last thing on Arkansas in general. Who knew that camouflage could be worn in so many different variations. It is THE fashion statement there to wear camo. There was one sort of upscaled baby shop that had nice toile stuff and things we would never buy...including a velvet camouflage blanket. I am not lying.

We headed back Sunday night and I rehearsed all the way back--running lines, listening to the music and trying to be ready for our rehearsals this week. Sheryl was a tremendous help!

Our rehearsal last night was light years from last week. We had a great night. The show is coming together and I think we were all really encouraged. If you are around Nashville, plan to join us for one of the shows. It will run 3 nights on the weekend of December 17, 18, 19. I hope you'll try and come.

It's cold, rainy, and dark today! Where is my beloved summer sunshine? Sorry--no poems about winter flowing from me today. Tonight is our staff Christmas party. Is it December yet? We always have a blast.

Yesterday we put up one of our Christmas trees. The girls had so much fun "helping". It only gets better with each passing year. The older they get, the more excited they are about the tree, the season, the stories, etc. It's so fun! It really has made the holidays a thing of joy after enduring a decade without my dad and not loving this season as much.

Speaking of, Maddie has gotten to where she wants to hear "Poppy" stories every night. "Poppy" is what we're calling my dad. Her favorite one right now is how my dad would sometimes wait until I went to sleep and tie my big toe to the end of the bed. She can't get that out of her mind. She also likes the one about how Dad used to dress up like an old man and go to the school where he was Principal and trick people. I love that she's so into that.

Finally, my mom's house is really coming together. We have the final walk through on Dec 8--just a week away! Mom closes on the 15th. It's happening very quickly. She is having lots of parties and send offs in the meantime. I am so grateful for the friends she has in Abilene. I pray that the Lord will surround her with meaningful relationships here in Nashville. He is good to supply all we need! On that note, have a great day realizing his supply for you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Drive safely, enjoy your families, and remember God's blessings this holiday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sunday night since it had been a long day and I was still under the weather, we opted out of life group and went down the street to Ryan and Sarah's for some chicken and dumplins. They were really great! I love that our girls play with Sydney and Jack so well.

Monday I woke up feeling even worse. We did make it out just for sanity's sake. We went to the Hickory Hollow Mall where they have a great play area for kids. I just sat slumped watching Maddie and Ella while Sheryl did some Christmas shopping. We went downstairs as before we left and got to see Paul Shoun playing Santa. Maddie was thrilled when Santa actually called her by name. Of course, at this age, they don't expect anything less.

Last night we had the rehearsal from the bad place. Everyone was off their game and feeling punky--especially me. Time is ticking. It will be a great show--in a few weeks!

The kindergarten upstairs invited the staff to their Thanksgiving meal. It's a yearly tradition that we look forward to. I am so glad Maddie goes to school up there with such wonderful people.

We will get in the van tomorrow and drive 6 hours to N.E. Arkansas where Sheryl's family lives. It will be tight quarters, but we'll all have fun. Have I mentioned that Sheryl has 7 (yes, SEVEN) brothers and sisters?? Yeah. This holiday only 3 of the kids will be there, but even at that, we're talking 15 people. Holidays with the Rathbuns are always fun and full of amazing food and competitive card games. I think we're even taking Bear with us this time. It's hard to get a house sitter when you have the FLOORS BEING REDONE FOR THE FIFTIETH TIME. Sorry--just a little floor rage built up in me.

As I mentioned, we'll be leaving tomorrow night so that the kids can sleep most of the way. I'm somewhat hesitant to do that because the last time we drove at night like that was 4 years ago or so. I went to sleep somewhere near Dyersburg and ran us off the road, totaling our car and sending Kiki's friend to the hospital. It was horrible. So, please pray for our safety and for me to stay awake. 6 hours in the car with 2 kids...priceless.

I am thankful for many things this holiday. I am thankful mostly for the Lord and His continued work in my heart and life. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my wife--for everything about her. I am thankful for my kids and their love for each other and for me. I love getting those hugs and hearing their laughter. I am thankful that my mom will soon be living here. I am thankful for the friends and family God has so richly blessed me with. I am thankful to have a roof over our heads and food on our table. I am thankful that I've discovered this outlet this year. It has been a very therapeutic tool for me on many days. And...I am thankful for you, blog family. May God bless you this week and keep you safe. May His love and warmth fill your homes and satisfy you like the richest of foods.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

First Fruits Sunday...the kids were great! They sang "A Penny In My Pocket" and were really cute. Here's our worship order for today:

Call to Worship-BST
Family Prayer--_______/_____________
--My God Reigns
--Give Thanks to the Lord


--Give Thanks to the Lord (chorus)
OC Children’s Ministry—“A Penny in My Pocket”

First Fruits Offering

--Thank You (Jernigan)
--All Things Praise Thee (all verses, please—GREAT verses!)
--Lord, Take My Life
Prayer—David England
--Before the Throne of God Above (Eve Clevenger-solo)
--We Praise Thee O God (vs 1, 3)

Supper/ Offering--_________________
Ministry Moment—Rusty Bragg
Shepherd’s Charge---_______________
--We Praise Thee O God (vs 5)

I am suffering from a major head cold--sinus stuff. David England agreed to lead second service for me so I could take some time to recover before rehearsal this afternoon. I pray all of you had meaningful worship experiences. Enjoy this day that the Lord has made!

Friday, November 19, 2004

What an awesome night! TJ rocked! The band sounded amazing! It was such a success. I really feel like a proud parent. I cannot imagine that this record won't take off and be a huge hit for him. He is really a great entertainer and singer. AWESOME JOB, TJ!!

It was fun to be in that venue with friends from Otter. It was fun to see so many people come out in support of TJ. It was cool to look on stage and see TJ and Blake Howard both playing and doing what they love and to think of them interning at OC a few summers ago. For those of you who remember Blake, he's doing really well too. He's still involved at Harpeth Community and playing bass any chance he can.

Thanks to those of you who offered some feedback on the onion thing. Chris--you're right about the flavor. But--has anyone noticed that onions can also smell a lot like really bad B.O.? Sorry.

Does anyone else still have sacks filled with Halloween candy? Sheryl and I are convinced that candy is poison--all of it. If I hear Maddie ask for candy one more time I might have to scream. AND--I hear it a FRACTION of the amount Sheryl hears it.
"I want some candy please"
"No candy, Maddie. Don't ask again."
(a few minutes later..mumbled just in case that might work better...)
"I unt su can-ee"
"No candy!!"


It's rainy here. Thanks to all you Texans who sent it this way. I hope you're all feeling nice and dry today! It's FRIDAY! Yee-haaw! We don't really have any big plans this weekend--for which I am grateful! We have our "first fruits Sunday" this weekend where we're asking people to give the first amount in their pledge for the building. I'll let you know how that goes. Have a blessed and safe weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Another shameless plug for TJ. Tonight is the big release party for "Kind of Life". It will be really fun. The band is playing and we'll all be there to celebrate with him. Apparently, his record is selling like crazy. Everyone in the office is walking around singing songs from it. This morning on the way to school Maddie wanted "TJ!". I looked back and she was singing all the words to the first song--my favorite one on the CD and the title cut. (click the link to the right and have your computer speakers on!)

Today is Holly's birthday. (Holly is TJ's wife and my admin assistant) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HOLLY!!! I remember where I was when I turned 24. Crazy times. I was working in the Christmas show at Six Flags and about to leave for my contract on Norwegian Cruise Lines. That seems like another lifetime. 24. sigh. Holly is really missing TJ these days while he's traveling. If you would, please pray for them--for her as he's away and for his safety on the road.

Last night we finished blocking ACT 2. We're really making progress. We got to the part where Sonya does her monologue as Vera. I about wet my pants laughing. It is so hilarious! We are going to have a lot of fun over the coming weeks as we put it all together.

Life in the Spirit. Sometimes it really makes me feel like TJ's song.

This kind of life I kind of live,
This kind of love I kind of give,
And I'm tired of the real thing slippin away
I need Your real

Sometimes I feel like life is like an onion (not a box of chocolates). There are so many layers and sometimes our layers almost drown out the voice of God. I had an experience this week where I woke up in the night with what I am convinced to be the Spirit singing over me. It was an old hymn that in the daylight hours I can't even recall, but the lyrics were exactly what I needed in my spirit. A call back to the heart of the Father. It just almost seems like that voice in me is sometimes so buried beneath the layers of everything else in my world and life. I'm feeling much like that onion today. Does anyone else resonate with that concept?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I woke myself up last night singing Silent Night in Spanish. Scratch that---poor Spanish. Jason McArthur and I like to call it Spanglish. It's ridiculous. Anyway, this show is fun, but enough of the Noche de Paz.

Last night we went to the hospital to see Daren and Christy Stanley's new baby--Eliza. She is so pretty! Maddie and Ella were more interested in seeing Mary Carsen (Eliza's big sister) and climbing all over poor Mary (Carsen's Granny). Ella was pretty intrigued with Eliza--the girl loves babies, remember. It was great to see them. I remember when Ella was born saying in the hospital, "We are now a family of 4!" I could not get my mind around that--I had never ever been a family of four.

Some other things I want to record for posterity about Ella--
Ella doesn't say "hot" she says, "hop". I love that so much!
Santa Clause is "Ho-Ho"
Maddie and Ella both refer to each other as "Sissy". If you ask Ella her name she won't say "Ella". She'll say, "Sissy!!"

I'm discovering that there are so many things that you forget as your kids grow older. I want to write them down somewhere so we can remember. I remember Maddie used to call birthday cakes "happy cake". I loved that too!

This morning I am headed to the DMV. It's time for the license renewal and new picture. Thank goodness. My picture from 9 years ago looks like some weird computerized version of George Jefferson off the Jefferson's TV show. Seriously.

Tonight, more rehearsal. More Noche de Paz. Wednesdays are long days. Does anyone else feel that way?

Has anyone seen Polar Express yet?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Here are a few of the pictures taken yesterday. Hope you can see these--

Wow--what a great couple of days we've had! Couple of stories to begin with...

Sunday night we had a great life group meeting, although we had been uncertain we could have ANYONE over since we had been suffering through a clogged toilet downstairs. I'll spare you the details. I brought home an industrial sized plunger and saved the day.

After life group, Maddie was just over the edge and off the hook. She had not taken a nap and that's always trouble. She was screaming and crying and just losing her mind (as were her mommy and daddy). I finally, in frustration, said, "MADDIE!!! Get a grip! You have GOT to think of something joyful and happy and pull it together!!!"

Maddie stopped crying and in a whimper whined out, "I'm just so cited (excited) that the downstairs toilet is fixed."

I fell on the floor laughing. She began to laugh too and it was the perfect end to the fit. We both got into Maddie's bed and began to "talk"--she'll say, "I wanna talk." She asked me about Poppie--what we call my dad. It was so touching for me. I got to tell her stories of the tricks my dad used to play on me. The one she couldn't get over was how he would sometimes tie my big toe to the end of the bed while I was asleep. I think this really concerned her. She's asked about it every day. I love that she is beginning to ask and know about her Poppie.

Well, the day hit. I am now 35. We went as a family to have our family pictures made at this new place called Portrait Innovations--AWESOME deal going right now. The girls did exceptionally well and we had a great time and got some amazing pictures out of it. I'll post some later.

After the picture place, we went as a family to see the Polar Express. I cannot say enough good things about this movie. I know some critics and families are saying that parts of it are too dark for kids, but it was one of my favorite movies in recent years. Maddie and Ella loved it. I leaned over to Sheryl at one point and said, "this will become the new Christmas classic." It certainly will for us--right along side Christmas Vacation!

Sheryl had bought and scheduled a massage for me yesterday afternoon. It was so awesome. I still feel like a noodle. What a great gift!

Last night we had rehearsal and it was so fun. We got to block at least half of Act 2. The Christmas In Other Lands Medley is one of the most hilarious things I have ever gotten to do in any show. They do these songs in foreign languages and butcher them--all very very funny.

Again this morning I was reminded of how much God has given me. As I left the house with Maddie in tow (on the way to school), I looked at Sheryl and Ella and thought, why me? I do not deserve the grace of our Father. I am just so thankful for 35 wonderful years, for friends that stick closer than a brother, for family who have sacrificed to help me know Jesus, for a ministry that has allowed me to encounter some of the most wonderful people I've ever met, and for ZOE life--life in the Spirit. Thank you, Jesus, for your goodness and for showering it on us.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I've added a link to TJ's website you can keep up with him and listen to some of his record there. They were selling like hotcakes this morning at OC. I'm so proud of him!

Last night the girls were in the bath tub cutting up--they have so much fun together and it's so enjoyable to watch. They got a little overboard and started having a screaming contest. I was hanging clothes (from my early birthday shopping spree--thanks, mom!) while Sheryl was downstairs fixing dinner. Finally, it got to me and I had to yell over them to STOP SCREAMING!!! (makes a lot of sense) They giggled and went on with their playing. After a minute or two they were really quiet--any parent knows this is a sign of trouble. I stepped out to see what they were doing and they were both sitting holding hands while covering their eyes with the other hand and Maddie was praying. I about died! They heard me come in and I said, "Don't stop! I want to hear you!" At that point each uncovered their eyes and offered me their free hand. Maddie's prayer went like this:
"Dear God, thank you for Mommy,
thank you for Daddy,
thank you for Kiki,
thank you for Mommy,
thank you for Mommy,
thank you for my baby sister named Ella,
thank you for all my friends named Abby,
thank you for Bear,
I love Jesus so much.
It's in Jesus' name we pray, A-me-yan." (I'm pretty sure that last sentence--at least--is in thanks to her teacher, Miss Delle.)

Those are moments that are better than just about anything I can imagine in my limited parenting experience. It about made me cry. And, just in case anyone wonders, they are almost always squeezed between someone hitting the other or screaming or saying "mine!!" It's a glimmer of hope that gives us great joy!

This morning was one of those praise team mornings. I was a little too ambitious without considering my team. Usually, I look at the list to make sure there will be at least one on each part who know the more challenging songs. I overestimated a bit this morning. I write this for several reasons--because I want you to know that EVERYONE has those mornings and because it was really my responsibility to help the team feel really prepared. I think everyone just felt harried today. The front TV monitor was out--no lyrics. There were at least two songs that were still a gamble when we went in. And--other stuff that added to an already stressful morning for everyone. Honestly, I felt ok about it and tried not to let it crawl all over me which I have done SOOOO many times. The thing I feel badly about is that I didn't help our team have the tools they needed to lead as effectively as possible. Before we went in I told them, "Let's just take a step back and look at the grand scheme. God is God. He will be praised. While we don't want to do anything that will distract in worship, I'd much rather you just WORSHIP instead of stress about notes and other stuff." It was just one of those mornings and I would say that the Holy Spirit really worked through us IN SPITE of us. It's always that way, but mornings like this one are a good reminder that it's not by power or talent--but by THE SPIRIT!

Daren and Christy Stanley had their daughter this morning! Daren called about 6:30 am to say they were on the way to the hospital. I told Maddie and Ella that Mary Carsen's sister was being born and they were really excited. Eliza was born around 10:30 and weighed 7 lbs 9oz. I'm sure she's gorgeous. We will hope to see her tomorrow.

We went to see how Mom's house is progressing on our way home from OC. It's looking good. The 3 men working on it were taking a break inside sitting in the living room SMOKING. Is this typical? I am sure there are things no one would ever want to know about the building process. I just have such an aversion to the cigarette smoke smell in a house that it irritated me...not to mention that the master bath completely smelled of urine--they'd been going in the shower. Hello! There's a nice little porta-potty right outside. Anyway--it appears to be on schedule. Smoke and all.

Rehearsal begins in 10 minutes. I'm going from here straight home to life group. Sundays are long days. It's like packing a weeks worth of stuff into one day. It'll be nice to have life group again after a couple of week break. Tomorrow's D day--or should we say "B" day. I decided that 35 is as far as I'm going. Next year I plan to turn 34.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Order TJ's new record here


I found that picture I was writing about yesterday. Sorry--just had to post it. It still cracks me up.

Last night was very enjoyable. We went with the Woodroofs to Basantes. I could eat there every day if I was a millionaire. Man! Great food and even better fellowship. It had been a very long time since we had been with them in that kind of setting.

This morning was my morning to get up with the girls (we switch off every other day). As much as I love to sleep--I've gotten to where I look forward to those days. This morning Ella was so snuggly. Those are moments daddies live for. Maddie and Ella both were in such playful, funny moods. I really love who God has made them to be.

No word from Jeff Johnson who is presently in Hollywood doing American Idol. They narrowed down to 90 yesterday. By the end of the weekend, it will be on to the finals. Jeff called Monday to say he was there and about to begin. Nothing since.

Lea Brown came over last night to watch the girls. She is really such a member of our family. Our friendship spans a decade and we've had a lot of fun together. Sheryl and Lea enjoy each other and are great friends. Lea was a Sing Song Host at ACU back in 1995 when I was working for ACU directing Sing Song and the traveling singing groups. Since then we all ended up in Nashville and Lea has sung with ZOE and been a leader in our praise team ministry. History with friends is such a neat thing.

I listened to NPR this morning on the way in. I like NPR sometimes. Sometimes it just bugs me. This morning it was bugging me. I love that sketch on Saturday Night Live where they have the NPR type hosts talking really low and serious. That's what it was like this morning...except they were whining about something to do with computers all in that tone. Give me a little TJ McCloud instead.

I know I mentioned TJ's new record being released--I am telling you, it's my very favorite. Maddie won't even listen to kids praise anymore. She wants TJ! I think it will be my Christmas gift to people this year. It's the only thing I'm listening to right now (besides the music from Sanders Family Christmas that I am desperately trying to memorize). If you're interested in getting a copy, let me know. It's Bebo Norman and even better.

Lord, thank you for the joy of being a father. It is one of the most amazing blessings you've given me. Thank you for the warmth of home and family. Thank you for showing me how to be a dad through my dad and other great men like Ronnie, Harold, Kirk and others. Thank you for blessings TJ's ministry. Keep him safe on the road and be with Holly as he's away. Help us to surround her with love and support. Lord, be with my eyes today--guard them from things not of you. Be with my heart today, protect it and make it more sensitive to your Spirit. Be with my pride today. Open me up to more of your servant heart. Help me to get over myself and have more of a heart for the lost.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Several thing to mention today...

funny conversation between Maddie and Mary Carsen on the way to school today. They were talking about getting their big girl beds and then it somehow transitioned to talking about Mary Carsen's dog, Rudy.

Maddie: Does your dog talk?
MC:, he doesn't talk.
Maddie: Oh, I was thinking that your dog talked.
MC: no, he's just a dog.
Maddie: is she getting bigger in a few minutes so she can have a big dog bed?
MC: No, she sleeps with my mommy and daddy.
Maddie: Oh, but she COULD get a big dog bed if she wanted to.
MC: yeah.

Not sure why that hit me as funny, but it did.

I feel like I am on an escalator trying to run backwards--away from November 15th. My birthday is Monday. I have never really cared about age. For some reason, though, this year is really bugging me. I actually had to count back the other day to make sure that I am turning the age I'm turning. I just wouldn't believe it. I know, it's dumb.

Sunday I had a conversation with Sallie Miller--new to our praise team ministry. She said, "Hey--were in a group at ACU called Take One with a guy named Jon Paul Findley?" I replied, "Yes, that was 100 years ago." She said, "I know, you guys came to Camp Deer Run and sang. I was 9 years old." Is it wrong to hit a woman?

I pulled out a picture post card I had of that Take One Summer--this cheesy picture of all of us hugging and laughing--very staged. We had a good laugh about it. Actually, a couple of times recently people have mentioned having some of those old Take One tapes (yes, TAPES--not CDs). It always makes me want to ask them to please throw them away. Perhaps it was seeing that picture again, I'm not sure--but I had a hilarious dream last night. I literally woke myself up this morning laughing.

In my dream ZOE was somewhere singing. It must have been a small town somewhere. Anyway--we were in this bookstore and I saw a CD cover and picked it up. I did a double take--the picture was that Take One picture with JP except, there were other people who had been added with computer enhancement. The weirdest thing is they were people like Jay Jones (high school friend--quarter back who went on to play for ACU and almost went pro). It was like they had lifted a high school year book picture of him in full pads but smiling really cheesy like the rest of us. He was in the bunch. Then there was Suzahn Roach. (A girl from high school with an extremely unfortunate last name.) She was randomly in the bunch. In the dream I was freaking out showing everyone this CD cover wondering why in the world someone would do that. Then, one of the Zoe guys was opening the paper of this small town and there in the entertainment section was an ad for Shrek 2. However, the ad had the same theme--that Take One picture--all of us cheesily gathered around and POINTING to Shrek. I couldn't believe my eyes--except in this picture it was that Take One group plus the group with Stephen, Kellie and John Scott. It was like someone had cut out our pictures and placed them all around Shrek. Then I began to notice more ads that were just like that. It was truly a twilight zone moment. I am not lying when I say that I woke myself up laughing. I tried to find one of the tape covers to scan so you'd see what I was talking about, but I couldn't.

In case anyone has any doubts, age is not a cure for weirdness or dorkiness... especially in my case.

We have a date night tonight and we're going out with the Woodroofs to one of our favorite restaurants, Basantes. I hope you all have a great day. I, for one, will continue to laugh all day about the thought of Jay Jones being in that Take One picture dressed in full pads. My mind is a scary place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It's been one of those days...just long and tiring. Seeing Sheryl, Maddie and Ella at dinner was the shot in the arm I needed. So, instead of writing... I'll just say amen to what Mike said.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Maddie and Ella both enjoy their cheerleader outfits their Nonnie bought them in Abilene. Maddie was completely fascinated with the cheerleaders we saw in Abilene. It's no wonder that she has developed an interest in doing "cheers". Her aunt Kiki is the cheerleader sponsor where she teaches here in Nashville. She also helps Maddie with the "jumps".

This is Maddie's cheer she likes to say right now. It completely cracks me up.

The Wildcats are HOT!
(insert out of control screaming and jumping here and then a pause long enough to yell...)
We're number TWO!!!!!

She'll be the new breed of cheerleaders...realists.

It was a great weekend. We had our big pledge Sunday--totals are still being counted...hanging chads and all. I had rehearsal all afternoon Sunday and again last night. It's going well. There are quite a few lines to memorize and I am wondering when I'll be able to do that!

I can't wait to hear the bluegrass band playing with us. I know they will be fantastic. JV is really the only "Sanders Family player". Actually, all the actors are supposed to sing and act and play the instruments--but that was just a little too much--even for Music City. However, JV is saving us from too much disgrace. I believe in the course of the evening he is playing the piano-with one awesome ragtime type solo, the trumpet, and an accordian. What a multi-talented guy! The other instrumentalists will be playing guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and others.

Is anyone else in the holiday spirit? Some years it's easier than others. This year it seems Sheryl and I both are getting there early. Christmas has always been my favorite. I enjoy having the tree up, the stockings, the lights. I love that warm family feeling. After my dad died, I dreaded holidays like Christmas. My mom and I tried to do things out of our norm to break up the grief. We spent the first couple of Christmases in NYC--something everyone should do at some point. However, it wasn't until we had kids that the holiday really came back to life. I LOVE BEING A DAD! I find myself on pins and needles waiting to see their joy and surprise. Maddie can hardly stand the suspense of knowing we've bought things but having to wait until Christmas--truly my child! She saw a "purple thing" that Sheryl bought recently. It's a pair of Disney Belle shoes in a purple package. Not a day has gone by that she hasn't bugged one of us about the "purple thing". "Where is it? When can I have it? Where did you put it?" A couple of nights ago she thanked God for the "purple thing". Sheesh.

As the season approaches, schedules get tighter and tighter. If it's any indication, we had to back up our office Christmas party to November 30th. I just pray that we'll be able to take the time to enjoy and celebrate birth, hope, family, and all that we have to be thankful for. My mom will be packing up "the dreams God planted" over the coming weeks--not just a chapter of her life, but almost an entire novel. Moving is never fun or easy. However, one of the things I have always loved about my parents, and Mom especially, is their eagerness to try new things. I have the adventurous spirit deep in my DNA. I am excited about this new chapter in her life and ours. Thanks for you continued prayers about her transition.

God is good! Today we have the opportunity to live and reflect that truth. It happens in grandiose ways, yes. But, in truth, it happens more poignantly in small ways...the way we treat our spouse, the way we talk to our server at a restaurant, the way we handle people who treat us rudely, the way we respond to those who disagree with us, etc. Those scenarios sometimes take us by surprise. Maybe we could agree together to be on the lookout today for opportunities to show the glory of God in the small decide ahead of time how we will react.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

This weekend we had a 24 hour period of prayer on our new property that culminated with a prayer walk headed by our teens. What a great day!

There were 5 or so stations that each group went to. At each station were several teens who read scripture and then led the group in prayer. I wish every single Otter Creeker could have been there if only to hear the prayers of our youth. To hear Lindsay Netterville lead such a sweet prayer, hearing Eric Innis comment on why we were there in such a mature way, being admonished by James Woodroof...this was a very special day!

At each station we had a different prayer praying for our youth, children's ministry, and kindergarten or our church neighbors or those who have yet to know Jesus..etc. We are in the Bible belt, yes. However, if we have to be surrounded by other churches (that's a whole different blog) I am so glad to be neighbors to Fellowship Bible and Brentwood Baptist. Both churches are filled with Spirit filled, passionate, faithful followers of Jesus. It's exciting to think how we might partner with them in community events.

I loved hearing the prayers of our elders and their wives too. I have always been blessed by hearing our shepherds pray, but it's not often enough we get to hear the powerful prayers of women like Paula Franklin and Jeanine Adams. What a blessing!

Tomorrow is our big pledge Sunday. It's a major day for us. I pray that it will be a day that honors the Lord and paves the way for a new season at OC.

Here's our order of worship for Sunday (one note--every first Sunday of the month, we have "Birthday Sunday" which we've been doing for over 30 years. Bob reads the names of the kids who have birthdays that month, they come down and we embarrass them to death by singing to them. Then they go eat cake.)

Welcome--Tim Woodroof
Family prayer
Meet and greet

Praise and Worship--Brandon Scott Thomas
--God of Grace and God of Glory
--Great is the Lord Almighty
--Send Your Rain (start with "soften our hearts".. into verse two to the end)

Prayer--Justin Mundie
--Lord, For Your Glory (sheet music in the bulletin)
--Great is Thy Faithfulness (chorus)
--I Will Praise You

"Threshold Moments"--Tim Woodroof
Testimonies--Otter Creek Elders
Shepherding Prayer


Commitment by the Otter Creek Family
--Had It Not Been the Lord

Supper/Offering--Tim Woodroof
Birthday Sunday--Bob Enkema
Shepherd's Charge--_____________

--Forever (chorus)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Speaking of cancer and prayers...

Can we add John Edwards to our list? One can only imagine the depression he must feel this week after the loss. So much time, energy, money, dreams...gone--or at least put on hold. Then--the day you lose to find out the woman you love has breast cancer? Almost too cruel. Let's not forget, this is also the family that has suffered the loss of a child--something I cannot fathom.

Father, we lift up the Edwards family. We ask for healing for Elizabeth. Please grant them peace and rest right now. Keep them from despair. Draw them close to Your heart. Protect them from mean things being said and help them to see with Your eyes.


Great news everyone--

The mass taken from Jeff WAS NOT CANCEROUS! Praise God! The mass was indeed pre-cancerous and would ahve turned malignant, but they got it in time! HUGE answered prayers. Everyone is doing well.


Last night we went to P.F. Chang's with Steve and Karen Speake. The Speakes don't have kids and love our kids. They have been like older siblings to us over the last 6 years. One of the best memories we have together is our trip to NYC back in 2000. They are really a hoot.

Last night at Chang's, we wisely requested a booth. We've learned that in a booth we can at least attempt to corral the kids. It cracks me up now when younger people encounter us in places like restaurants or airplanes. It's the familiar deer-in-the-headlights-look that is far, far more effective than even teaching abstinence. Both of our servers last night had that look. It's the wide-eyed, I'm never having children, someone please save me look. And--I think our kids are pretty well behaved in public. (You see, I know that look quite well because for 30+ years, I had that same look!) Of course there was the whole incidence with Maddie throwing the plate on the floor and it breaking into a million pieces. But that's another story.

We got home and had the talk every couple loves to hate about money and finances. What a year we're staring into! I can't go into all of it here, but there are some major expenses coming our way--not to mention trying to pledge money to the building campaign.

Speaking of--my trip out to the World Outreach Church this week really got me pumped about some possibilities for our new building. Check out that page if you get a chance. The architect and interior designer both go to Otter Creek and our building will be similar. They have three different places of worship--3 different services going on at the same time. All live worship stuff and the sermon is basically broadcast in from the main sanctuary. One of the rooms has a 45 ft--yes, FOOT, long screen. It was amazing.

I am having lunch with my brother, Randy Gill, today. I love that guy. I am so glad we're both in Nashville. We don't take advantage of our proximity as much as we ought to.

Please keep praying for Jeff. He's in a regular room and is in a lot of pain. He had a slight fever yesterday, but that's not that abnormal. There's a chance that pathology might come back today.

Father, please be with Jeff today--HEAL HIM! Surround Carol and Jeff with your loving care and give them peace. We ask you in the name of Jesus to eradicate any cancer from his body. May Your name be praised through this. We all agree together in this prayer as siblings bound by tyhe blood of your Son.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Thanks to Kyle for sending me this picture. This was taken a couple of weeks ago in Texas. I'm still enjoying the warmth of the time spent there with people and old friends.

Last night at our emergent service there were three stations--giving, receiving, and encouragement. At the giving station people used clay to sculpt what they wanted to give to the Lord--something representing it (a gift, a sin, something you hold to tightly to...etc). There were the COOLEST clay sculptures there. In fact, Scott said they ran out of clay!

At the receiving table those who wanted to received the Lord's Supper. The encouragement table was a place to write encouragement cards to others. I heard it was a great night.

Meanwhile, we were in rehearsals that began at 6:15 and ended close to 9:30. The show is really going well. I am amazed--and always have been--at the talent in this place. I have been in professional paid productions with people who weren't half as talented as those here at the Creek. It really blows me away. I have to think that God would not gather people like that all in one place for us to just waste the gifts. It certainly calls us to something higher and deeper.

This show is so hilarious. My character--Pastor Oglethorpe--is such a fun guy to play. He has it bad for June--the Sanders Family sister who "doesn't sing, she signs". Anyway--fun stuff.

I heard from Carol Nelson this morning--things went well with Jeff. His surgery was only about 2 hours long. The doctor thought the liver and other organs looked ok. As for what was removed, we're waiting on pathology which could take as long as Monday. The doc said it was about 50/50 as to whether it was malignant or not. However, he did feel like he got it ALL. Jeff was in ICU last night but is expected to be moved to a regular room today sometime. This is good news so far! Thanks for the many prayers for them. Let's keep it up. They said they could really feel the prayer coverage.

My mom SOLD HER HOUSE!!!!!! Yeeee-hawww! This has been a stressful thing lately. Not only did she sell it, but it seems that God has worked everything out just as it needs to be with timing and stuff. She'll close there on the 10th of December and close here on the 15th.

Thank you, Father, for caring about our every day concerns. Thank you for being involved in our lives and not just a stand-offish being. Thank you for your touch and for speaking through unlikely things like clay sculptures. Thank you for laughter. Thank you for reminding me this morning of your sovereignty. And YOU will reign forever and ever.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I refreshed my links and added a few new ones. Hope you enjoy.

What a nail biting night! Sheryl and I were at a movie and it was killing me not to check every 10 minutes on my phone. Isn't our system fascinating? What if it had come down to a tie in the electoral vote and the decision went to the Senate and House?? Isn't it weird to think Thomas Jefferson was elected that way? Amazing stuff.

On that note, why can't we figure out a way to have a systemized way to vote? Voting is different not only state to state but county to county too! Maybe there are benefits. What are they? Some places have stupid chads that don't punch. Some places lose votes by turning the power off. In Oregon, no one goes to vote--everyone mails in their ballots. In Arkansas, my in-laws filled out their ballot with a pencil and slipped it in a box like it was 1892. Other states neglect sending out absentee ballots until 4 days before the election. I am just glad to know that being an idiot isn't reserved for church work. It certainly seems to apply to government work as well.

My mom came through her cataract surgery this morning with flying colors. Still waiting to hear something from Jeff. Let's continue to pray...for each other, for our country, and more importantly--that we will be Kingdom people (more than US citizens--citizens of the Kingdom of our Lord and God that has no borders). Let's also pray that I don't get any more calls from cast members today.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Here's how my yesterday went with regard to the play and casting. (by the way--rehearsals have already begun and man 2, who is usually cast in a leading role wasn't cast this time because the vocal part fit man 1 better.) Enjoy.

Scene 1 (phone rings at the Thomas house)
Brandon: This is Brandon
Man 1: Brandon--I can't get my schedule to work out for the rehearsals. I cannot do the show. We've had some doctors drop out of our practice and the scheduling just won't work.
Brandon: I hate hearing that! I don't know what we'll do about voice parts, but we'll figure something out.
Man 1: sorry man.

Scene 2 (Brandon calling man 2)
Brandon: Hey bro! Ok--I have something to ask you...if we re-arranged the voice parts is there any way you'd consider doing the show?
Man 2: why should you have to?
Brandon: well, Man 1 had to drop out and I really need you.
Man 2 (loving the fact that I am squirming here): well, I guess I can swallow my pride and take the role.
Brandon: man, you are so awesome. Thank you so much. You know how weird this is for me. See you tonight at rehearsal.

Scene 3 (phone rings an hour later at the Thomas house)
Brandon: this is Brandon
Man 1: Brandon--this is (insert name). I got everything worked out!! My schedule is free now! I just wanted to call and let you know.
Brandon: wow--I just hung up with someone else who is taking your place. But--we really need you for that vocal part. Let me call Eve and see what to do. Thanks for working that out!

Scene 4 (this is after calling Eve and agreeing that we need man 1 since he had already begun the show--calling man 2)
Brandon: Hey man. Ok...soooooooo, I just got a call from (man 1).
Man 2: laughter
Brandon: Dude...I don't know what to say. He's worked things out and I think we need him for that voice part.
Man 2: go on..grovel!
Brandon: I am dyin here! Please, please forgive me!
Man 2: Just be glad we're good friends.

Scene 5 (this is just 45 minutes before rehearsal--phone rings at the Thomas house)
Brandon: this is Brandon
Man 1: Brandon--I am so sorry to have to do this.
Brandon: NO!!!!
Man 1: I came home and talked with my wife who said the schedule of rehearsals is just too much for her. She has asked me not to do it
Brandon: NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
Man 1: I am so sorry
Brandon: OK--you're really doing the right thing. I understand. I'll take care of it. (inside...I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!!!)

Scene 6 (minutes later--calling man 2 back for the hundredth time)

Brandon: Hi
Man 2: laughter
Brandon: so....what is your definition of friendship??
Man 2: more laughter
Brandon: yeah, soooo I just got a call from (man 1) and he is definitely OUT.
Man 2: you must be kidding.
Brandon: nope. I am begging. I am groveling. Please, please, please take this role.
Man 2: You'd better be glad it's me.
Brandon: see you at 6:30?
Man 2: I'll be there.

The rest of the story-- man 2 is perfect in the role and the re-arranging of vocal parts will be minimal. God provides! Who says worship and arts people lead stress free lives? Have them call me!!!

In case you're reading this for the first time today--please read the entry from this morning and keep praying.

So many thing to pray about today. Let's pray for our country and that we will watch how we behave with each other over the coming days. It's one of our gifts here to be able to vote. Be sure and take advantage of that right.

Please be in prayer for Jeff Nelson. I just got word this morning that the doctors found a large mass in his colon and he will be having surgery tomorrow to remove it. The biopsy seems hopeful that it's not malignant. However, the surgeons are treating it like cancer and removing lymph nodes and everything. Please, please be in prayer for him. Jeff is a long time friend and mentor. I am not sure I'd would have even known what worship ministry was had it not been for his leadership.

More later.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

There is a church I know of who is trying to articulate a vision for the future in this post-modern era. I read this last week and found it quite intriguing. I know it's a little lengthy, but it's worth the read. Let me know what you think. For his sake and his church's sake, I've left them anonymous.

A Note About Church and Culture

As is evidenced by any number of sources, the dominant culture of the western world is undergoing a major cultural shift. This is not simply a generational shift (such as from “Baby Boomers to Generation X) but rather a shift in overall epistemology (how we come to know things). Not since the Enlightenment has the world experienced anything like this. Most churches are not aware of this change or view it as simply a passing fad to be ignored and/or opposed (much like most churches initially ignored and/or opposed the Enlightenment and subsequent modernity before realizing it’s scope and impact). After being totally caught off-guard by the modern shift, the church did a pendulum swing and married itself to Modernistic/Enlightenment thought, which also wasn’t the best move for anyone involved. Instead, we propose that be ahead of the cultural curve and engage the postmodern mindset. What we are advocating is quite different from the way that the church embraced the modern mindset (in many ways to her detriment). What we are proposing is much more along the lines of what the apostle Paul advocates in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “take(ing) captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. Looking at this passage in context reveals that it is not referring to one’s personal “thought life”, but is rather talking about taking captive the dominant philosophy for the cause of Christ; redeeming what we can out of it for the sake of the gospel and refuting what we have to (in the most appropriate and effective way). This is also a principle that Paul modeled on Mars Hill when he actually used a pagan idol and heathen poets to reveal the Living God. He redeemed their epistemology and dominant philosophy and made it obedient to Christ. This is the course that we believe should take in regards to the postmodern shift. This will involve letting go of some presuppositions which are thoroughly rooted in modernity and not Scripture (though it may at first seem like the opposite ). This is not simply a change in worship styles or moving from “traditional” to “progressive”. It is instead a radical rethinking of how we engage the dominant culture with the message of Jesus (more on the message of Jesus later).

This will involve the following:

1. Changing Our Attitude Toward Change

In the past, we have worked hard to change attitudes towards specific beliefs and practices only to have to fight different battles a few years later. What if we changed our overall attitude toward change so that we can engage a culture that changes at the speed of light? What if change was something that was understood to be woven into the fabric of our being?

2. Renewed Emphasis on Story (narrative)

Propositional truths ring kind of hollow (and shallow) in the ears of postmoderns. Emphasis on the (true) story of Jesus and the stories of his followers (including those at ) fascinate them and communicate truth in a less threatening and more engaging way. People begin to see their lives as an extension of the story and begin to believe “truths” that they couldn’t be argued into.

3. Become Less “Event Oriented” & Instead Become More Process and Community Oriented

We must begin to view evangelism and discipleship less in terms of “Big Events” and more in terms of a process by which disciples (apprentices of Jesus) involve themselves in the lives of both other disciples and the community around them and are thereby spiritually formed.

Focus On Experience(s)
Talk about truth without ways to experience truth seems sort of inauthentic to postmoderns. We must find ways to facilitate opportunities to experience truth (whether through metaphorical physical activity involving activities other than hearing or reading, or by offering opportunities to be a part of the mission of God, even if one hasn’t yet become a believer). On a weekly basis (but not a rigid programs or ministries) we would like to give opportunities to incorporate Biblical truth into their lives.
Less focus on “Ministries and Programs” and more emphasis on community, opportunity, and mission.
To postmoderns, all of our ministries and programs may make our church appear to be a marketed product that we are selling. Most immediately lose interest (the cardinal rule is “don’t let your marketing show”). For those who are attracted to such a sales pitch we have to ask: are we creating people who are MORE self-centered rather than less? Are we simply creating “Christian” consumers?

The Kingdom Of God

We propose that adopt the theme “On Earth as it is in Heaven,” for 2005. This is obviously taken from Jesus’ sample prayer found in the Gospels. In this prayer, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” are not separate items, but rather a reflexive restatement of the same idea. The “Kingdom of God” does not simply stand as a synonym for “the church” (with a leader, members, etc.), nor does it refer implicitly to the “second coming” (in it’s popularly understood form) and the subsequent end of the world. Instead, it is an ideology…a vision…a dream that God has about how this world is supposed to be and how it’s supposed to work. It’s a mission…a grand adventure that God invites us into whereby we become a part of how that ideology, vision, and dream becomes reality “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Looking at things through these lenses radically changes what they look like and what they mean to us. Evangelism becomes less about saving one’s personal soul so that they can go to Heaven one day when they die (though this is a part of it), and more about one becoming a part of the Mission of God whereby things on Earth are beginning to line up with God’s will the way they do in Heaven. Discipleship becomes less about being persuaded to mentally agree with certain propositional ideas and more about the people actually immersing themselves in the Way of Jesus and being formed into His image by the experience of it. Church becomes less about doing the right “acts of worship” in the right way and more about a redemptive community that through interaction and a common mission forms those it encircles into the people Jesus would be if He lived their lives. Life becomes less about me and more about God and you. The world becomes less a frightening place to be fought against and more the creation of God desperately in need of both the good news we are called to embody, and reconciliation in it’s broken relationship with a God who is madly in love with it (John 3:16).