Thursday, March 31, 2005

We had a great rehearsal last night with ZOE. We have some more songs ready for this weekend and I am so glad! Here are the ones we're still seriously considering adding:
--Let Us Be You (Clarissa and Michael Luck wrote this)
--Ps 23 (Clarissa)
--The Bread Has Been Broken (off the new worship leader discovery CD)
--Mighty is the Power of the Cross (we sang this here for Easter and it went really well!)
--You Were There (Avalon)
--Living Prayer (Alison Krauss)
--When All Thy Mercies (Ortega)

I'd also like to figure out a way to do "One Pure and Holy Passion" with the chorus of "To the Ends of the Earth" added to the end.

I am actually beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! No matter what, I look back at last year and where I was at this point and I feel grateful. We were trying to get the live record completed in post production, we had another record to complete by the end of May, there was major staff turmoil, and my friend Joe was dying. I thank God for some relief this year! I never would have thought we'd be pregnant either! Crazy!

Sam has turned into the alien. His movements are like a jack rabbit. You can see his arms and legs moving and sticking out. I will never--ever--get over the miracle of pregnancy and birth. Sheryl continues to struggle with her back and all problems associated with pregnancy. She has her 30 week check up in a few days and we're looking forward to hearing what the doc has to say. Please continue to pray for her. She's also feeling a bit "coldy" and that's not fun. But, I'll say this--there has NEVER been a more beautiful pregnant woman than Sheryl. She just looks amazing.

I LOVE THIS WEATHER! Praise the Lord for the beauty of His creation! I want to be outside.

I'm having lunch today with Phillip Duncan and Paul Young (more praise team meetings). Yesterday I met with Sallie Miller. These have been so awesome and SO encouraging! Anyone who knows Phillip and Paul knows that the three of us together in any room means trouble. I can't wait!

Happy Thursday, Blog family.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Last night we got to go see Nashville Star. We've been watching it on TV and it hit me last week that, duh, it's taped here in Nashville and we ought to go see it! Amanda hooked us up with one of the producers so we got to skip the extremely long lines outside and go in through the side door. Our seats were AWESOME!! We were about 5 rows back right next to the judges--

Phil Vassar kicked off the evening (he's on the far right). He's had a couple of number 1 hits himself and multiple others he's written for different artists. My friend, Julie Corlew, was a song writer and knew Phil back before he was a country star. We used to go listen to him play in this little dive bar in Antioch. Someone I know who reads this blog was a bouncer there---but I am not naming names. :) He is really such an amazing singer, writer, and performer. I remember thinking--if this guy can't get a record deal, no one can. Sure enough. Anyway--he kicked off the night because it was "original song night". He was awesome.

Brett Michaels (the guy on the far left) also sang last night. He is the lead singer of Poison (that'll take you back.) He sang "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". It was hilarious. Definitely a rowdy performance.

The contestants were fun to watch. I could not believe that Tamika got cut this week. She has such an amazing voice--way better than Jenny. (One of the judges said to Jenny, "I know you have to be as surprised as we are that you're still here." OUCH!) I was not a fan of the Rockabilly guy. His song was pure cheese.

The coolest part was just being there and seeing what it was like to be in the audience for the live taping. Leann Rimes was sick and looked miserable. The audience was extremely rowdy and loud last night--which made it even more fun. And--we were right--it does sound different in the "house" than it does on TV. It's harder to tell when they are pitchy in the theater. Although, Jenny's pitchiness was hard to mask.

All in all, it was a really fun night. Thanks for hooking us up, Amanda! Sometimes, living in a city makes you blind to the fun things that go on there. Nashville has so many cool events. We need to take advantage of them.

It's absolutely beautiful here. It is supposed to be 76 degrees today! I talked to one of the people from Steamboat Springs who told me that there was a huge snow dump there this week. YEA! We will get to ski a week from Saturday. Who can resist Spring Skiing?

I am reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We are going through it in our staff retreat next week. I don't really love books of that nature, although several of them HAVE been helpful through the years. Two that stick out are Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald and Boundaries by Henry Cloud. Those are two very helpful books. I have liked what I've read so far in Seven Habits. Have any of you read it? What is your impression?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tuesdays are always filled with meetings. Today is no exception. I am also trying to figure out what we're recording this weekend. We'll be going back in the studio Friday night. We're working on an arrangement of Living Prayer and another Fernando Ortega hymn. I am still open to ideas. Finding songs with this theme has been very difficult.

Tonight we are going to Nashville Star. You can watch it on the USA network at 9 central standard time. I am excited to see what it's like!!

Have a great day, bloggers. Please feel free to share ideas on songs as you get them.

Monday, March 28, 2005

We had an incredible day yesterday. Both services were really great! The choir did a fantastic job, Sonya and Philip did a wonderful job with the drama. (Owen, it was great. I'll send you a copy of the CD.) Tim's message was powerful and ended with having Otter Creek people testify to what the Lord has done in their lives by asking different groups of people to stand if they'd experienced the power of Christ in their lives. Some specifics he mentioned were--healing in marriages, restoration of broken families, a breaking of the slavery to sexual issues, a healing for loneliness and more. It was powerful.

After our worship time we all (our family, Fajita's family, and Aunt Kiki) made our way to my mom's house. She was, of course, the grand hostess! We had delicious honey baked ham, orange salad, sweet potato casserole, green beans, potato salad, and coconut cake. It was really such a great day. I'm so glad she's here.

After lunch we all crashed. I don't know when I have slept like that. For you worship ministers out there you know what I mean. There's nothing quite like the sleep you get the night (or afternoon in my case) AFTER your big Christmas or Easter program. So much work goes into them. It's so rewarding though--pouring time and energy into something that will lift up the name of Jesus. There are other times when that kind of exhaustion hits from doing things like Habitat for Humanity or other kinds of service projects. All are important and we are testifying through each different activity what Jesus means to us. It's important to take time to do both--to live out the life we've been called to live, serving, ministering, loving, reaching out, caring for people, etc. And it's also important to stop for moments like we had yesterday where we remember who we're serving and testify together. Neither should be independent of the other--in my opinion. People on both sides argue the importance of one over the other, but aren't both important? Those whose hearts beat for worship need to balance their time to make sure that their "worship" includes lifestyle and daily act of giving themselves to Jesus through serving people. And--those whose hearts beat for service should not come to worship with arms crossed judging others who are engaged in passionate worship to the Lord.

We are a body--made up of many parts. I don't think we can hear that enough. My thumb and my mouth have very, VERY little in common. However, they are both really important to the function of my body as God created it. Imagine if my thumb said, "Look at that mouth up there. What a lazy bum! He can't even pick up anything or help carry things. It looks like all he's doing is sitting there like he's along for the ride...all talk and no action. Geez--why can't he be a thumb?"

What if my mouth said, "Look at that thumb down there. He can't sing, he can't talk, he can't speak words of encouragement, he seems like a bump on a log. He can't communicate like I can. He can't smile or frown. He can't even word a prayer. Does he even care about God?"

Ridiculous, huh? I know I've been guilty of doing that with people in our church. I will probably continue to struggle with feelings like that. BUT--the truth is, we need each other. We are connected to the body--even though we are completely different, have separate giftings, interests and abilities. We are connected to the Body and we have a function to carry out. Working together, we create something really beautiful. In service, the thumb is able to help physically while the mouth speaks words of encouragement or healing. In worship, as the mouth sings or prays, the thumb and hand are lifted as a symbol of vulnerability or offering unto the Lord.

Maybe it's an image that seems like a stretch, but I couldn't help but think about it yesterday. I'm grateful for the Body of Christ. I am thankful that we aren't all alike and that God can accomplish His purposes through us--even in our differences.

Today is Monday. I'm home with my girls and we're painting the nursery preparing for Baby Sam. I'm thankful for the freedom I have because of Jesus. I am thankful for the love I've experienced in my life that never would have been known otherwise. I hope your weekend was wonderful.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Christ is risen--We are risen! Happy Easter, bloggers!!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

We've had a really fun couple of days. Thursday night we ate at Baja Burrito with Katey Earles and then went to see Robots. The girls enjoyed it and we did too--aside from the 5 trips to the potty for Ella who is now officially potty trained. PRAISE GOD!!

Katey and my mom came back over yesterday and we went to the Mall so my mom could buy the girls their Easter dresses (a tradition now). It was fun being together. Katey has become another adopted sister. She hung out at our house all day yesterday and kept our kids last night while Sheryl and I went out with Gail and Chris to Basantes and then to Bongo Java. It's fun to be with family.

Speaking of family--Amanda, who I've written about many times before, has hooked us up with tickets to Nashville Star this Tuesday. She works for CMT and knows the right people. Yee-Hawww! I am excited to see how it sounds live instead of on TV. You know things like American Idol and Nashville Star HAVE to sound better live because some of those singers who are so off key never seem to know. (Sarah Evans included. I've never heard her on TV in her many performances where she wasn't completely off key. How did she get a record deal?)

We're getting ready to leave for the OC Easter Egg hunt. Maddie has asked me 10 times in the last ten minutes when she can put her dress on. It's still an hour and a half away. That girl. Ella would go naked for all she cares.

Have a great weekend! Tomorrow we get to celebrate what Jesus has done for us as we should all the time. The difference is, there's a sense of expectation--from believers and seekers. It's a different kind of weekend. How exciting! THEN we get to chow down on Honey Baked Ham at my mom's. Hallelujah!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

We had a great rehearsal last night. Really awesome! I cannot believe the level of talent that we have here. But beyond that--the hearts that are coupled with the talent just astound me. Thank you, Lord for reminding me of that blessing last night!

In the midst of the last couple of days I have enjoyed a little internet game that tells you what type of dog you are. Thank you, David Shaub!! Some of the office staff and I have laughed about which dog we are and the description of that dog's personality. I'd LOVE to hear what you are. Turns out I am an English Cocker Spaniel. David England in ZOE found out he's a "Hovawart". Bless him. I think there's a medication for that. Which dog are you? Find out by clicking here. When you get there go to the "game" link to the left.

I am trying to put the finishing touches on Easter this morning. I am excited about Sunday. I think the message of Life really has meaning for us today. When we are in touch at all with our own sin and realize that He traded places with us--it is simply overwhelming. Here's a preview of Sunday:

Call to Worship--The Otter Creek chorus
"Your Grace Still Amazes Me" (with the igniter video "Are You Amazed?")

Welcome--Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer

Praise and Worship--BST--All Hail the Power
--To God Be the Glory
--Were You There? (verses 1,2)
--When I Survey (verses 3 and 2 in that order)
contemplative exercise (writing on a card the things that need to be put to death in us and then visualizing the blood of Christ covering them)

A Matter of Life and Death--Dramatic reading (by Owen Burgess--thanks, Owen!!)
--For All You've Done (O Cleanser of the mess...)
--In Christ Alone (Townend)
--Christ the Lord is Risen Today

"LIFE"--Tim Woodroof
--All Who Are Thirsty

Lord's Supper
Cup--Mighty Is The Power of the Cross (Tomlin)
Offering--You Are Holy

Shepherd's Close--Ed Rucker--A New Anointing

I pray that those who are coming this weekend into our buildings will feel the love of Christ overwhelm them. May NO ONE be able to say as they leave, "Did those people really mean what they were saying? They didn't seem to believe it." Let's be the arms of Jesus for those inside and outside our church buildings this week.

Sheryl's sister Gail, her husband Chris (Fajita) and their kids are coming tomorrow. It will be so fun to watch the girls hunt for eggs and laugh with their cousins. Can't wait to see you guys!! We have a full weekend of activities including the Otter Creek Easter egg hunt on Saturday. If I don't get to post, may you have a blessed weekend with family.

Oh--don't forget to tell us what kind of dog you are.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My year anniversary of blogging came and went and I didn't even realize it. Here's a look back at a sentence or two from my first entry in March of 2004.

Day one

I am embarking on a journey that I pray will be meaningful, disciplining, heart felt, and even humorous. To journal about one's journey in this life certainly takes courage, but for me--more discipline than anything else. As I struggle through living the life of a worship leader, a husband, a pastor and everything else that somehow gets attached to me, I pray that God will bless this writing and that He will use it to encourage someone else. we go!

Several days into blogging
I don't know what the end of this story is for me. It's possible that the next time you drive through at Taco Bell you'll hear a familiar voice saying "whatcha want?" But, what seems more likely is that God will be faithful to bring me through this season of difficulty and give me tools for ministry as I walk ahead in faith.

Hopefully, some of those beginning goals have been achieved. I still struggle some days with candor and honesty and sometimes it just equals a great big bowl of creamed corn. But, overall, it's been a wonderful exercise this year.

Please pray for me today as I try and finish up last minute things for Easter and rehearsal tonight. The meeting yesterday is still weighing heavily on my heart. Consequently, as things go in churches, groups of people have discussed this matter and are coming to their own conclusions. It's all well intentioned. Mostly. Anyway!! Thank you for allowing me to share bits and pieces of my journey with you along the way. I look forward to more moments together.

Oops--one last thing to leave with you. Maddie has gotten to where she loves to sing in the bathroom with the door closed. I think it's the acoustics. I remember going out to the garage as a kid and singing songs as loud as I could to hear the sound in there. Anyway--what strikes me as funny is that her song of choice lately as she is in there sitting on the toilet is... "Here I am to Worship".

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Yesterday was such a great day! I was feeling better--at least enough to be outside and enjoy the beautiful day. I actually did a little too much. I've been dying to get our back flower garden under control. It was horrible. So, Sheryl and I chopped our way through out of control rose bushes and dug up most everything else. I spread some mulch and planted some bulbs. Sheryl's really the better gardener here, but I was obeying her directions. It felt good to be outside, dirty, and sweaty! It was nice to hear the delightful screams of little girls running all over the yard or calling from their swings, "Daddy come push me HIGH!" Summer--here we come!

I was exhausted last night. But I still felt better than I had over the weekend. I am at work today and have Easter looming in the near future. There is much to do that didn't get done last week, thanks to sickness.

Pray for me today. I have a lunch that I am not looking forward to. It's with a member of our church who has really not liked anything I've done here in 10 years. He has left several times but always comes back. To say that our views are different on issues would be the major understatement. However, he and his wife have been at OC for a very long time. They have given their lives in service to this church. They have weathered many, MANY changes. They are loved. I anticipate this being a difficult lunch. Please say a prayer for me for wisdom, sensitivity, boldness, and patience--all at the same time.

Lord, you have made us family, whether we like it or not. I pray that I will treat my brother with brotherly love today. I pray that you shut my mouth when it needs to be shut and open it when, and only when, it will benefit your will in this situation. Bless the other men who will join us. Give them wisdom and guidance as well.

Monday, March 21, 2005

So...rise and shine and give God the glory glory! Thankfully, I am feeling better this morning. Praise the Lord! Perhaps it was the amazing chicken and noodles my mom made and brought over last night? Perhaps it is from the loving care my wife and girls have given me? Perhaps it's that the Lord heard your prayers and drown my cold in the Red Sea. OK--enough with the Ten commandments movie.

Maddie cracked me up yesterday. She has gotten to where she sings "All Who Are Thirsty" a lot. It's so cute. But yesterday she sang these words... "As beep calls out to beep." Not sure what that means, but she was singing it with gusto.

Sheryl had a 7:00 physical therapy appt. this morning. Bless her. Please keep praying for her back. AND--please pray that none of them caught what I have had.

I feel so much better today. I am thankful! The sun is out and hopefully, I will feel like getting out in the back yard and playing with the girls. Have a great Monday, everyone!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Thy servant hath fallen into great infermity. The plague of cold and flu hath landed upon him. Ooops--sorry. Watched a little too much Charlton Heston and the 10 Commandments last night. Maybe I should borrow a more modern phrase from an ABC reporter from a few weeks ago... "Brandon Thomas is MISERABLE."

It's been a weekend of sickness for me. It was quite the scramble to figure out what to do about worship this morning. Everyone and their dog is gone to some far off wonderful place for Spring Break. THANKFULLY, Paul Young agreed to save me. He was supposed to be helping in children's worship this morning. THANK YOU, PAUL!

I've been so stuffed up that I cannot breathe--at all. Now, to make things even more fun I have a sore throat. Probably from drainage--sorry.

I'll miss you all at OC this morning. I pray it's a great day of glorifying the Lord. Please be sure to thank Paul for me.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Yesterday was one of those really unbelievable days that I don't want to forget. What a day! Amazing things, my friends. I want to write about it but only to tell you how God can answer prayers in an immediate way. I think sometimes I get so used to waiting for answers from Him that I forget that He is completely capable of answering in the immediate.

First, let me share another funny story I forgot to mention about the ride to school. I had both of the girls with me and Ella was rummaging through her Easter basket from her class at church Wednesday night. There was an egg with marshmallows inside. She opened them and I told her that she could only eat one and she could give one to Maddie and that was IT. About 5 minutes later, I hear that same egg being re-opened very slowly--so I waited. About 10 seconds later I said, "Ella, are you eating those marshmallows that I told you not to eat???" She said, "Umph nah eaing amphythin" The girl had her mouth so full of marshmellows it was like the old chubby bunny game. Hilarious. It was one of those moments when I should have gotten on to her for fibbing, but I could not bring myself to stop laughing enough to be serious.

OK--on to the rest of the day. I am officially sick with another cold. For the love. Well, I was feeling awful and decided to take off around lunch and go to see Hotel Rwanda. I hadn't seen it yet and since I was thinking about showing it at Otter, I decided to preview it. It was one of the most powerful movies I have ever, EVER seen. I think it impacted me almost as much as the Passion movie. I bawled.

At one point in the movie, while the journalists were still allowed in Rwanda, one of them filmed one of the brutal massacres. I'm taking MASSACRE--with machetes. The hotel manager tearfully thanked him for capturing that on film so that the world could see and help. The journalist sadly looked at him and shook his head saying people would barely notice. The manager exclaimed, "How can people see this and not intervene??" The journalist replied, "Most people will see this, stop eating, shake their heads and comment on how sad it is and then resume their dinner." How true that was. The saddest part is that most of the governments knew what was happening and did little to help. Finally, many of them escaped to Zimbabwe, but not before more than a million people were killed.

I remember when the African Children's Choir came to Otter back in the late 90's. Some of those children were orphans from this conflict who had watched their parents get murdered. Some had burrowed underneath dead bodies so as not to be found by those doing the killing. What horrible wounds of the heart and mind!

I drove home in tears, sobbing to the Lord. I felt such a sense of sorrow. What could we have done? What can we do now? What does this mean for me today in Nashville, TN? How can my eyes be opened to suffering? How can I climb outside my little sheltered world? Still feeling very yuck, I pulled onto our street and saw the people moving in right across from us. I went across the street to introduce myself. They were clearly not Tennesseeans (or Texans, for that matter). I asked where they were from--guess where? Zimbabwe. WOW!! I had just been praying for God to open my eyes--Jason and Anna Maria are DELIGHTFUL! He has finished his doctorate and is here to plant a church for those from different nations in Africa. I helped them unload the car and then invited them to dinner. Sheryl was cooking up something special for our other friends, the Greens, who were also in the moving process (which we hate and completely feel for anyone in that place). She was more than happy to throw on some more food.

I asked Jason what else I could do for them. He reluctantly told me that his movers needed a ride home and he had to go the opposite direction to pick up his children. He wondered if I could take these guys home. They were characters--I am here to tell you. They climbed in and we took off for East Nashville (deep east nashville). You would not believe the conversations we had along the way. They were hilarious. They were quizzing me about my job and what makes me tick and on and on. I have never, ever felt so white. The guy sitting shotgun asked me if he could change the radio station. I told him to go for it. All of a sudden this rap song came on...

My woman's in the kitchen
cookin up a meal
I get up off 'de couch
so I can go and cop a feel.
(You can't make this stuff up. Thankfully, I can't recall the rest of the verse--is it called a verse in rap???)

chorus: Doin' it in the kitchen
Oh yeah, doin it in the kitchen.

Ummmm. yeah. So, I had to laugh about this. They laughed too and we turned off the radio-- I sure wasn't going to make their heads spin by going from rap to ZOE. We had a good talk before I dropped them at their respective homes.

I got home and vomited all this information on Sheryl--the movie, my prayer, all these crazy open doors smacking me in the face, and shared my excitement about what God could be doing. Somehow, and if you know me you know what a miracle this is, God gave me energy and strength even while feeling terrible. A little later, Jason, Anna Maria, and two of their 4 kids came over for dinner. I was so excited. We were all excited. God had brought us some new neighbors from a very far away place. Something cool was bound to happen.

We ate dinner and laughed about various things. There was a tiny bit of a language barrier but not enough to make a huge difference. Their younger two kids were the ones with them--11 and 14. They were really amazing kids. Turns out Jason was a journalist during the Rwandan conflict. He told me stories that would make you lose sleep.

I kept shaking my head at the Lord all night. In one afternoon, this delightful couple had entered our lives. We prayed together, told stories of our families, and pledged to take care of each other as neighbors should. I think I will learn a lot from Jason as he reaches a community of people in Antioch who I would otherwise probably never know. I know God opened this door for me--to show me that things like this are more than serendipities. He is in control and orchestrates things in our lives to strengthen our faith and love for Him.

Last night I didn't save a Rwandan orphan. I didn't stand between a Tootsie and a Hutu and demand peace. I wasn't able to sneak 800 refugees across the border. But, I was able to share a meal with a family who I believe will bring many wonderful experiences into our lives. It was hard not to feel like this was a really cool opening chapter in a book I have needed to read and experience for a long time now.

I'll leave you with two things today. First--go see Hotel Rwanda before it leaves the theaters. Second, keep praying for open eyes. I forget to, but am always amazed at what happens as God answers those small prayers.

Please don't leave me any anonymous "let your deeds be done in secret" type of comments. This has nothing to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with Him. We have got to tell stories of His faithfulness to each other so that we remember and know what a mighty God we follow.

Here's a quote from Mother Teresa that my mom shared with me. I thought it was really cool.

I never look at the masses as my responsibility.
I look at the individual.
I can love only one person at a time.
I can feed only one person at at time.
Just one, one, one.
You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other.
As Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethern, you do to me."
So you begin....I begin.
I picked up one person---
maybe if I didn't pick up that one person I wouldn't have picked up 42,000.
The whole work is only a drop in the ocean.
But if I didn't put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.
Same thing for you
same thing for your family
same thing in the church where you go
just, one, one.

Have a great weekend. If you get a moment, please pray for my health. I feel worse today. Thanks!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Today was Maddie's Spring Program! Each class wore a different color. Maddie's class wore orange, as you can see. She sang,
"Oh I wish I were a little piece of orange--JUICY, JUICY!
Oh I wish I were a little piece of orange--JUICY, JUICY!
I'd go squirty, squirty, squirty on everybody's shirty
Oh I wish I were a little piece of orange--JUICY, JUICY!"

And there was the shameless UT plug as they closed singing "Rocky Top" and chanting "GO BIG ORANGE!" (We've already brainwashed Maddie who goes around cheering, "Go Cats, and A-C-U, Who ya rootin for? A-C-U!"

Sheryl, Ella, my mom (Nonnie) and I were all there to cheer her on. The kids were adorable. Maddie had a blast and actually sang out this time unlike Christmas when she was sick as a dog. Yea, Maddie!

Ella got to go down the hall to the office to see Miss Trina and dig through her candy dish. She was excited to see her, but probably more excited to get the candy.

Rehearsal last night seemed long. I wasn't feeling great--in fact today I feel like I have a cold coming on. Clarissa was awesome in keeping things moving. We decided against "When You Call My Name". Some songs just do not translate. It's sad too, cause that's one of the ones that really says what we need songs to say on this record.

Tim is in Greece this week. Dog. I know he's having a great time. Julie--aren't you missing him? Doug Sanders is preaching Sunday. I know it will be good. I hope you all have a great Thursday. Pray for Jonathan Shaub--and for his family. The longer this goes, the more difficult it is on them. Also, please pray for Scott Owings. Scott is at a monastery this week doing some more training for his Spiritual Direction study. We miss him.

It's lunch time. All that talk about juicy oranges squirting has me hungry. TTFN.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Coupla things today--

Dentist--a much better experience. I did see Dr. (the other guy) and hid behind a wall. My friends at the front desk had to laugh at me. Lesson to everyone--brush regularly. Floss often. I do, but am now flossing more. I don't want another round.

Date night--we opted not to go to Melting Pot. Since we had a gift certificate for PF Chang's, we went there. Twist my arm. Afterwards, we went to see Hitch. What a great movie!!! You have to see it. It's really funny and clean too. My mom watched the girls. Ella was a mess when we left but only minutes after when I called I could hear her belly laughing. They had a great time.

Praise team meetings--these are going really well. I've enjoyed having time to get to know people better too. I had breakfast with Justin Mundie, lunch with Tiffany Fox, and Sally Miller is on her way here as I write. These meetings have proven to me that this process with our team has been really beneficial. With 70 people it's really hard to even know everyone well. This is affording me the opportunity to present the vision again in a personal, one on one environment. It’s really blessed me.

Rehearsals--tonight we rehearse with ZOE again at 6pm. Working on "When You Call My Name", "Mighty is the Power of the Cross", and "Living Prayer". At 7pm I move on to the portable for another rehearsal with the Easter choir. Pray for my vocal health!

Blogger--seriously, can someone in tech control help all us bloggers out? What is the deal lately? Is anyone else having trouble posting and commenting? Ha--guess if you're having trouble commenting, you can't really comment on that one, huh?

Have a great day, everyone! Please keep praying for Jonathan Shaub.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Isn't that the cutest picture ever?? That sweet little baby (Maddie) is now almost 4 years old. How does it happen so fast? Mercy. I can't believe we're about to have another little one like this. Praise God for his miracle of birth. Amazing.

Ella has been potty training herself. Another mystery. She just decided Sunday that she would start going pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty. Every time she does she gives us this look like, "HA! Look how big I am!!" She's even wearing underwear today (ok--it's really panties, but I don't like that word.) I am so proud of her.

Sheryl and I are having a date night tonight. It's the first one we've had since early February. Maybe even late January. We try to be good about planning them, but with sickness and recording, we've not done so well. We even had to cancel our Valentine's Day date because of illness. We are LONG overdue. I am taking her to The Melting Pot. We went there to celebrate our engagement a little over 7 years ago. It's a cool place that serves fondu.

Please continue to pray for Sheryl. She is only 27 1/2 weeks along which means we still have a ways to go. She needs some relief before then. Her back is really bothering her and impacting her sleep. No sleep = long, hard days.

OK--so, today my theme song is "Crown Him With Many Crowns". I am going in an hour or so to have my crown put on--yes, THAT crown. Finally. Pray for me. Thankfully, Dr. Fletcher is very gentle and does a great job.

Have a great Tuesday, blog family.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I woke up Sunday morning and felt like I'd been hit by a bus. I have gone a long 10 days or so with no break at all. I was hoping I'd have a voice and the Lord really provided for me Sunday morning. It turned out to be a very special day at the Creek. Thomas Griffith was there at first service and Tim had people surround them during the family prayer. Thomas was beaming. I've missed his smile. Praise God for Thomas's health!!

Tim's message on Jesus breaking through any situation--even a wedding feast--was POWERFUL. I loved what he said. I tend to shy from health/wealth gospel preaching and a lot of them use that passage to go there. He didn't and I really loved what he said. I so need Jesus to break into my world too. The big and the small stuff.

After second service the girls came in and I was talking to Katherine (Wood) Miller. Katherine and I both grew up in Abilene. Her husband, Matt, and she have been at Otter for a while now and they are such a blessing to me. I was holding Ella while Katherine and I were talking and Ella was patting me. All of a sudden she stuck her hand in between the buttons on my shirt and as I was trying to get her hand out, she was struck by the humor in this as Katherine and I were both laughing. Ella proceeded to reach all the way in and pinched my nipple as hard as possible. For the love! What in the world? Anyway--it was one of those moments. I was just glad it was Katherine there and not someone else.

Last night we had another great life group meeting. I am so grateful for what God is doing in our group. He's really building something and I am blessed to be with those people.

PRAISE THE LORD for days off. Today was my first day off in about 10 days. I was thrilled to be home and with my girls. We ran some errands, got some paint for the nursery, went to Ryan and Sarah Williamson's for lunch and had a nice visit. Naps were so welcomed today. Ella slept in her old room in "Baby Sam's" crib. Ella says..."baby Saaaaaaaahm". I put Maddie in bed and almost went to sleep next to her. The room was so nice and dark. (Because I hung a huge, dark beach towel over their window to try and get them to sleep in later--to no avail.) I ended up crawling into Ella's bed and slept for 2 the dark...with the fan blowing perfectly volumed "white noise". Ahhhh! I can't tell you how long it's been since I napped like that.

I love being with Sheryl and the girls. I love hearing them laugh. I love hearing Sheryl singing around the house (can you even imagine? It is to die for). I love it when the girls ask me to "get them"--meaning tickle or chase. The "tickle fox" is one of their favorite ways for me to "get" them. I love night time kisses and hugs before bed. I love the smell of their hair after it's been washed. I love that Ella has gone pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty all day long. PRAISE GOD! I love that Sheryl is to that place in her pregnancy where we can see the alien in there moving around with legs and arms and who knows what else. I look at my life and think how blessed I am. Thank you, Lord, for giving me what I did not deserve. What a blessing!

PS: 2 things.
1. Does anyone watch 24? We don't much. I was struck tonight at how completely ridiculous it would be to live that life. The premise of the show is that the entire season is a day and each episode is one hour in that day. Can you imagine if every hour of your day were as stressful and dramatic as Jack what's-his-name's? Oh wait. I'm in ministry. Never mind.

2. Regarding Day's of Elijah--hilarious how that became the major blog commenting thing. Everyone read the link that Katherine provided. That's what I always think about when we sing that song--people think waaaaaay too literally when it comes to music and art. The imagery of what he's saying is so great. And...the issue people have had with it isn't really the bridge itself. I should have clarified (although the 10 Commandments thing was PERFECT). The issue has been more grammatical. They want us to sing "There's no God BUT Jehovah" instead of "like". Literalists. Love em.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

We've had a great weekend. I am exhausted. Friday night was another great night in the studio. Meanwhile, Ella was perfectly fine to be at home with Amanda and Geoff. Especially Geoff!

Yesterday we spent most of the day working in the studio too. It was a very long day. We had to hammer out some rhythms and get on the same page musically before we could continue. It can be really frustrating at times, but it's such a cool thing to be in a group with such musically gifted people. I laugh when I step back and look at all of us--there are some VERY opinionated people in ZOE. I count myself as one of them. The benefit is in hammering it out and getting, in the end, a better result. We are one wacky group. We can laugh and be rolling on the floor and the next minute be going to the mat for something we feel strongly about musically. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. We ended up with 6 songs done and still have several more weekends as we continue in April.

Here are the ones we've done so far:
Hope of the Nations
In Christ Alone
How Great is Our God
Magnificat (Randy Gill original)
Sing to the King
Beautiful One

We had to change the lyric a bit on Sing to the King because of some theology in it that was questionable. We weren't necessarily bothered by it, but we knew some would be. I have several people who ask me regularly why we sing the bridge in Days of Elijah that says "There's no God like Jehovah". I wish some of the people who get so bent out of shape about things like that would put as much time, energy, and passion into singing other lyrics. I love that bridge. It reminds me that the other things in my life that I count on are only idols. There is only one true GOD. The I AM!

After we finished last night, we went home and scooped up the girls, my mom and Aunt Kiki and met most of the other ZOE folks at Baja Burrito (sorry, Corey). I LOVE BAJA. Baja, Baja, Baja!!!! It was a really fun way to end the day. Maddie got to sit across from Peter and was a very happy girl.

Last night as we tucked them in bed, Ella hugged me really tightly and said, "I uv ooh Daddy. Isssss muts" (translated that means, "I love you, daddy--THIS MUCH!") As she said it she opened her arms as wide as she could. It just made my entire weekend. Thank you. Lord for my family!

This morning we're John 2 where Jesus turns the water to wine. I suggested we have a wine tasting to kick things off. No one really caught the vision for it. As Tim talked to me about this week's lesson, I couldn't help but think back to those discussions on the ZOE conference planning. Jesus turning water into wine doesn't seem like a huge deal spiritually speaking. I mean, gallons and gallons of GOD MADE wine is a pretty cool thing, but you know what I mean. Jesus broke through the veil of our darkness in just about every way possible. He gave us glimpses of Life. He reminded us that He is really in control after all. Even something as small as a wedding party running out of wine…he touched and brought joy and celebration. He did this knowing that faith would deepen. They saw. They believed. Incarnation. Love enwrapped in flesh and bone. I can’t get my mind around that. Incredible!

Here's our order of worship for today:

Welcome--Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer- Jon Cornelius/ David Harr
Meet and greet

Praise and Worship--BST
--Firm Foundation
--My Hope is Built
--You Are Holy
BST shares
--He Is Able
--I Worship You, Almighty God
--There Is None Like You

Teaching--Tim Woodroof
--Shine Jesus Shine
--Fairest Lord Jesus

Supper--Russ Carney
--I Believe In Jesus

Ministry Moment--Phil Wilson (Technology Ministry)
Shepherd's Close--Steve Giddens
--You Are Worthy of My Praise

Have a great day, blog family!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Awesome night last night! Possibly the best starting night we've ever had. The Bennett House in Franklin is a famous studio rich in history and tradition. It is really cool to be out there. Our engineers, Chris and Josh, are wonderful. The atmosphere is really conducive for worship and we left feeling much LESS stressed after our first night than normal. Thank you for your prayers!!

Last night we recorded In Christ Alone and Hope of the Nations. Both went really well. Tonight we'll try to knock out a couple of more. Peter gets in this afternoon. I'm looking forward to having him here. Jeff Krinks sang with us last night in his place and did a FANTASTIC job. (Jeff was with us in Fresno for those of you who were there)

Again today I am thankful for community. Last night Lauren Gingles and Kyle Rigsby watched the girls. Both of them are in our Life Group and are loved by all the Thomas family. Tonight Amanda Brooks McKinney and Geoff Vickers are watching them. Ella has a big Geoff crush like Maddie has on Peter. When I told her this morning that Geoff was coming over tonight she smiled and turned beet red. It's so cute! My mom and Aunt Kiki will watch them tomorrow all day while we record. What would we do without community?

Our yearly trip to Pepperdine in Malibu is coming. Believe it or not, it's not far away. We're already making plans. We have several ZOE folks who can't make it so I am bringing some new faces. We always look forward to that trip. Hopefully, we'll see some of you out there.

Please continue to pray for us tonight and tomorrow as we continue recording. We will take a break for a couple of weeks and then resume April 1st.

One last question for Owen Burgess and other drama savvy folks out there--does anyone know of any scripts dealing with Easter from a perspective of Death and Life being the main characters? I have this idea of telling the Easter story from the perspective of those main characters. Death thinking of himself as the main character and then adding the plot twist showing Life to be the real hero of the story. Ring any bells? We're trying to write something along those lines here, but I thought if it already existed I'd save myself the time and brain cells. Anyone? Bueler?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Last night was a double header. We met at 6pm for ZOE rehearsal and then I left them to continue and went to the portable to rehearse the Easter Choir. It was a long night of singing. But--it was fun in both settings.

I'm not exactly sure what we'll end up recording tonight. The ones we're looking at are--
--In Christ Alone (Townend)
--Beautiful One
--Sing to the King
--How Great is Our God
--Psalm 23

We'll try and knock a few of those out this weekend. We have more on our list but these are the ones we'll try and hit first, I suspect. I am excited about the Ps.23 song. Clarissa wrote it--it's gorgeous. She came in today and we were working on a bridge of some sort. I can't wait for you to hear it.

I had lunch with Greg Taylor and we went over to St. Thomas hospital to see Lee Smith (elder from the Fresno church). His twin brother is very ill with heart problems and the whole family is here to be with him. Lee asked for our prayers today. In about an hour (3pm) they will take some of the life support off of his brother (Leonard) to see if his heart can take it. Please keep him in your prayers.

I've been listening to some songs that have to do with having a passion for the lost or being missional, etc. Most of these songs are not even melodic. I love Matt Redman's "Mission's Flame" but accapella? No way. I'm still looking though.

We covet your prayers tonight as we embark on this long journey AGAIN of recording. The Lord has been so faithful to minister through the other recordings. We are just trusting Him to do that with this one too. Please keep our families in your prayers too. We'll be spending more time away from them than any of us like.

Father, as we begin recording tonight, may it glorify you. May it lift you up. Let our hearts be centrally focused on one thing only. YOU. Fill us up with the power of your Holy Spirit so that what comes out of us tonight and in the coming weeks is from OVERFLOW. Take what we offer in all our human frailty and make it something that builds your Kingdom. We ask you to anoint our time and our voices. We ask because of who you are and we believe because of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Last night we had Room in the Inn at Otter Creek as we do every Tuesday night through the cold months. We share with other churches. Each church takes a night. We offer these men a bed, a shower, dinner, breakfast and a sack lunch as well as a gym bag to fill up with things from the Room in the Inn closet. They can take shirts, pants, shoes, coats, etc.

Maddie has always been somewhat apprehensive about men. (As her father, I don't mind that much and hope it continues into TEEN years!) I was wondering how she would be. Sheryl had other plans and so I had them by myself. I tried to prep both of them telling them that these men don't have a place to sleep and need warm clothes and food. I told them that they should treat them just like Jesus would. Be sweet to them, offer to help, etc. Amazingly, they were not freaked out by them and, in fact, enjoyed playing with a couple of them.

The food was not ready early enough and the men were really hungry. Maddie and Ella shared their goldfish crackers. Since the girls are used to eating around 5:30 I finally had to break down and feed them about 6:45. They were really hungry. Ella offered some of her treasured grapes to one of the men. Maddie offered her cheese. They were winning hearts and stomachs.

The girls played hide-and-go-seek with "John". John was sort of a gruff man--one who Maddie would typically not have anything to do with. She laughed with him and played with him. I think it was cool for the guys to be around the girls. Several of them sat and talked about how they reminded them of their own children, now grown. It was a sweet time.

As we left, Maddie went around saying goodbye and even hugged one of the guys. Ella said her goodbyes too and we got in the car. As we drove home I told them how proud I was of them. They reached out--they really did--beyond their norm. I told them that in doing that and in helping those men feel like we love them and see them as normal people, they were loving them like Jesus would.

We got home and they crawled in their beds and we said prayers. Maddie insisted that we pray for John. I was glad.

It's hard, as a parent, to know how to expose your children to things like that in healthy ways. I was overcome with emotion as I watched them crawl into their warm beds in our nice house. These very nice guys have made some choices. Some of them had choices made for them. They aren't that far removed from us. My heart broke for their loneliness and the tear I saw in one man's eye as he told me of his children, now grown, who won't speak to him.

Incarnation. The WORD made flesh. He didn't do this just for us. He did it to show us what incarnation looks like. We are his hands and feet. It's not a Sunday morning service, it's a way of life (or should be). I desperately want to know how to make that more true for me. I long to be his hands and feet more than I am now--and I long to CARE about that more than I do.

We talked some about this in our ZOE planning meeting but if we were to play "Where's Waldo?" but call it "Where's Jesus?" I wonder what we'd find. As we play it in the New Testament, who do we see him spending time with? Where is he? How does he go about his day? What kinds of people is he engaging?

If we were to play it now..."Where's Jesus?" Is he warming a pew on Sunday and forgetting about Kingdom during the week? Is he a deacon in the church and yet forgetting to love his wife? Is he concerned at all for the poor? Does he make an issue out of worship wars but give little thought to his neighbor? Where's Jesus?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Great ZOE meeting yesterday at our house and then a really awesome life group night. Community is so important. I am so glad to have community with the people in our group. We shared some pretty important things last night and were able to pray for each other. It really encouraged me.

This morning I met Mike Cope, Jeff Walling, Greg Taylor, Randy Gill, and Eric for our ZOE planning meeting for the fall conference. We had a great day together-enhanced by lunch at Baja Burrito. I am really pumped about the theme we are working on for the fall conference. We're going with something about incarnation-not in the Christmas sense, but talking about how God's love became flesh. And now, we are the flesh behind His Kingdom here. We embrace the incarnation and it's not a nice sermon on a Sunday morning but instead a way of life. It should change everything. If you know any songs you want to suggest with that theme in mind for the recording, please do. ("In Christ Alone" is a great one!)

Back last January I went in to the Vanderbilt University Allergy Sinus Clinic. A producer from ABC just happened to be there working on a story about allergies. The Nashville ABC affiliate bought an hour of prime time to air the show. They asked me that day if they could follow me around and I agreed. The show aired tonight. The most hilarious thing was that the segment on me began like this... "Brandon Thomas is MISERABLE." Sheryl and I both laughed out loud. The second most hilarious thing was that based on how I looked, it was no surprise to anyone that I felt miserable. Nothing like seeing yourself on TV being the allergy poster boy. They even showed me getting my arm prick allergy test. Why me? Christy McInturff called immediately and laughed out loud at me while we both watched them look up my nose on TV. Not pretty.

It's a busy week ahead for us. Tomorrow night I am taking Maddie and Ella to eat dinner with the people at Room in the Inn at Otter Creek. I've been trying to tell Maddie that there are people who don't have houses or beds (she's been so excited about her big girl bed and she actually offered to put it in the van to take with us for someone to have. I don't think she actually knows what she was offering, but it was really sweet!). Tomorrow night will be a great time for them to meet some of the really nice people who come to escape the cold nights, get several nice meals, and a warm shower. I am looking forward to it. It's a start.

Thursday night we begin recording. I am asking you to pray for us. Please pray for an anointing on that time and for God to keep us healthy.

Tomorrow morning at staff meeting, our newest minister will be joining us. Doug Sanders who is leaving his VP position with Purity Dairies (the man's job was choosing and managing ICE CREAM FLAVORS! Hello? I think I have found my true calling.) Doug is our new admin. minister. We are all very excited about this addition to our staff. Doug is a tireless worker and has already given so much to OC. I know this will be a real blessing to us.

Please continue to pray for Jonathan and Thomas. Both seem to be showing signs of continued healing. Thanks for always praying for us too. I'm thankful for you.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Good morning, Blog world! I had a great trip to Birmingham. Wow! What a cool bunch of people. They were so receptive and such a joy to be with. The Friday night stuff really went well and then Saturday they had me clinic them on their praise teams. It was really such a cool weekend. I am coming back with ideas for our praise teams too. Thanks, guys! Thanks, Greg, for inviting me.

It was a wonderful thing to walk in the door last night and be bombarded by my kids. What better feeling is there? I was glad to see Sheryl too. I have been so worried about her. She's doing better. Thank you for your prayers.

This afternoon the ZOE singers are coming over and meeting with Larry and Eric about some things. I am praying that the Lord's hand will be on that time. This is an important week for ZOE. We have a critical meeting tomorrow with Walling and Cope about the fall conference. We also start recording Thursday night. We covet your prayers.

Jonathan(Shaub) seems to be doing better. However, he and Thomas Griffith are still in need of our prayers and encouragement. If you have a second to drop them a line on their blog, please do. It's incredible how people all over the world are praying for their healing.

Now, for "something completely different". Need a laugh today? Here are some Church bloopers, thanks to Phillip Duncan. You've heard these before, but they always make me smile. (did I mention that a really nice guy prayed a couple of weeks ago and was so nervous that he began his prayer with "In Christ's name we Christ's name we pray.." Twice. Bless.

#1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at
Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

#2. Announcement in a church bulletin for a national PRAYER & FASTING
Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting & Prayer Conference
includes meals."

#3. The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon
tonight: Searching for Jesus."

#4. Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in
the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

#5. Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of
those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your

#6. The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due
to a conflict.

#7. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at
someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much
about you.

#8. Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help. (BST: "OK?")

#9. Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving
obvious pleasure to the congregation.

#10. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a
nursery downstairs.

#11. Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all
the help they can get.

#12. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more
transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of
Pastor Jack's sermons.

#13. The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir
will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."

#14. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the
church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

#15. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall.
Music will follow.

#16. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is
Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

#17. Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of
several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

#18. Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be
recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

#19. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased
person you want remembered.

#20. Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy

#21. The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment
and gracious hostility.

#22. Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

#23. The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They
may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

#24. This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn sing in the park across
from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

#25. Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All
ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

#26. The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation
would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next

#27. Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use
the back door.

#28. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the
Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this

#29. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church.
Please use large double door at the side entrance.

#30. The Associate Minister unveiled the church' s new tithing campaign
slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

Ha! Happy Sunday!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I spent all morning dealing with some ZOE stuff. We're trying to get ready for recording next week. Of course, I did not budget that time into my day so the afternoon has been spent scrambling.

I decided to do sort of an emergent type service in Birmingham tomorrow night. Why I didn't decide that last week is beyond me. So--I've been trying to box candles, get station stuff printed, etc. I'll have to go buy clay tomorrow. It would be easier to skip the whole station/emergent thing. But it's just such a great thing for focus and retreat. Some of my favorite moments have been spent in stations like that--at the ZOE conferences in Nashville and in Fresno. Hopefully it will be a blessing to that team there. Please pray for me as I travel tomorrow. I want to encourage them and allow the Spirit to breathe through me. We all need retreat time. I am really excited to be with them. I love Greg Miles, Kelly Sutton and Johnny Brown. It will be fun to see them! Thanks for your prayers.

Many, many prayers still being lifted for Jonathan and Thomas. Please keep checking their blog for updates. I always love reading the comments. It's really the church being the church. Sometimes I think those times are so much more telling than our gatherings on Sundays. We put so much stock in those times--and we should. But, it's times like this when our family is hurting when we prove what we sing and pray.

I would also really appreciate some prayers for Sheryl. Her back is really bothering her. I feel really helpless to know what to do. She's receiving some physical therapy on Monday. I am praying that it will be helpful. Please pray for relief for her and for a good night's sleep. Thanks!

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for being an important part of community for me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

First off this morning- I've added a link for those of you who want to keep up on the progress of sweet little Thomas Griffith who is still in the hospital. He is undergoing surgery today. Click the link or click here: UPDATES ON THOMAS GRIFFITH. Please keep him in your prayers and Jonathan. He continues to struggle.

You know, this blog thing is really so cool. I've thought that before, but have been reminded of it even more over the last two weeks. Every day the Shaubs are posting a couple of times and there are usually 40-50 comments from people encouraging them and praying for them. What a fantastic way to communicate love and support--especially when they are tired of talking on the phone. I'd recommend doing that if there's a family in your church in a similar situation. Help them start a blog and let the church know. With both the Shaubs and Griffiths it's been a great way for our people to remain in the loop and support them. Even though you don't know these people, read the comments. They'll bless you.

Big news! I wanted to wait a few days so they'd have a chance to send out their mass email, but Jason and Alisha are engaged!! Sorry ladies. Many of you--especially the 10 and under set--are probably saddened to hear this. Jason has a way with the ladies. And kids LOVE him. He'll be a great husband and father. Alisha is wonderful too. We're so thrilled to welcome her into our little ZOE family! Congratulations, guys!

Last night Sheryl cut up some strawberries and bananas for dessert. I whipped some cream and we sat down to eat. Maddie was eating her whipped cream and leaned over and whispered,"Daddy, we're eating clouds!" It was so cute. Sometimes at night I tell her the stories my father told me about a make believe playground where everything is made out of treats. And, of course, the clouds are whipped cream! The water fountain sprays chocolate milk or lemonade, depending on the day. You get the idea. Can we go??

Great comments yesterday. I loved reading them. So many wonderful stories behind those. How about some contemporary praise songs? What songs have become special to you and why?

I know for me, Blessed Be Your Name will forever be associated with the Desperate Conference this year and then with the tragedy in Abilene. Had It Not Been the Lord remains my personal anthem. No song describes the low times in my life any better. Arms of Love will always remind me of a story a friend told us at the conference that year (like 5 years ago or so). She had a miscarriage very late in her term. She listened to that song over and over while laying in her hospital bed. Stories like that are so compelling. They remind me that the Spirit of God works through these songs in ways we NEVER could. Sometimes music can be the hands and arms of Jesus holding us. Sometimes it's His face we see. Sometimes it takes us to a quiet garden where we can be ministered to in ways that are immeasurable.

Thank you, Lord, for music. Thank you for putting it in our souls and communicating your love to us through song. May we hear your voice singing over us today!
Zeph. 3:17

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Heart's still heavy over Jonathan and Thomas. Jonathan is intubated again after surgery yesterday. His condition is extremely serious. The gravity of the situation is sinking in even more as David, Sharon, Nicole and Megan are feeling bone weary. Please pray for them. I've added a link for updates. It's always encouraging to read the comments. People all over the world are praying for Jonathan.

Thomas Griffith is still struggling too. Bless his heart. I know John and Alice are hurting for him. Please be remembering them too.

We collapsed into bed last night. The trip went fairly well--as well as driving to Arkansas and back in two days can go. The girls loved seeing their cousins and we enjoyed our visit.

I wanted to make you aware of another blog. Rob Still leads worship some at Belmont Church (my church home before Otter). He also wrote "A New Anointing". I've added a link to his website or you can click here. You might like checking his blog from time to time.

I've been thinking about hymns this morning. Music in general has the ability to transport us like a time machine. Sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's painful.

I'm curious--what hymn or hymns are special to you? What memories do they evoke?