Thursday, June 30, 2005

I feel like I have drool dripping from my mouth, I'm so sleepy. I think I got in bed around 2am. Chris and I worked a long time last night and only got 3 songs mixed. Ugh. Chris is a champ though. He's juggling FFH recording and a million other things. The studio is booked solid and he's having to squeeze me in where possible. I just wanted to show you a picture of Chris and ask you to pray for him. The Bennett House just sold and he could use our prayers for the stressful time ahead.

We finished Living Prayer, The Bread Has Been Broken, and You Were There. If you'd like a sample, feel free to email me.

The best part of last night, however, was after we were done and he shared a juicy morsel with me. A producer friend of his gave him the original scratch and real tracks from Def Leppard's song "Pour Some Sugar On Me". The lyric was different originally and there were some funny moments in the vocal. We were already silly since it was late, but we had ourselves a good laugh listening.

I'm really too sleepy to write any more today. I hope you all have a great Thursday. Remember me writing about how long Wednesdays are? I think I counted up a 16 hour work day yesterday. Maybe that entitles me to a nap this afternoon?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tonight at TGIWednesday, Rubel will speak to us about some important issues related to death and dying. Fun.

Here are a few pictures taken in the last 18 hours of Sam. He's saying hello to everyone in that last one. Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jason and Alisha are getting married in about 2 weeks! We met today to discuss and finalize plans for the service. I'm so excited to be marrying them. The whole ZOE team will be very involved in the celebration.

My mom and I got to see KO and Marilyn Long today from Abilene. KO used to own and run Jeffory's Village Peddler where I worked for a while as a student along with friends like Jeff Berry, Kristen Cottier Brown (I KNOW YOU'RE READING!!), Brooke Lorenz Nichols, Stan "the man", and others. It was great to see them. They haven't changed a bit.

Kiki is coming over tonight to keep the kids (I can no longer say "girls"--weird!!). We're going on our first date night. I am thankful for Kiki and her willingness to help us. (back from our date--we had a great night! We ate outside at Jackson's in Hillsboro Village. What a beautiful night!)

A friend and I were talking about some of the old days at Belmont Church. It was so neat to talk about some of those days when John Elliott and Michael W. Smith used to lead worship. Don Finto was the senior pastor and they were exciting times. It made me remember how very thankful I am for John Elliott. I learned a lot about what I do today from that man. There are very few leaders anywhere who have the heart and gift combination that he has. He has made a real difference in my life. I pray that I can pass that on.

Thank you, Lord, for the men and women who have brought your grace into our lives. Thank you for the teaching that has happened in quiet moments. Thank you for the example and the love that has been given so unselfishly. Thank you for those servants of yours who have taught me more about joy and following Jesus. Thank you for all those I don't know yet who You will use to impact me and soften my heart for your purposes. I am so glad you've chosen to use broken vessels. Their brokenness and healing have taught me about you more than any sermon or book.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The group from OCU was awesome yesterday. The craziest thing--one of the singers was the nephew of my life long friend, Kyle Dickson. Caleb is traveling and singing this summer. It was so cool and such a surprise to see him. The morning was great.

We had a small life group last night because several had gone to Cookeville to see Geof ride in a bike race. Geof had a bike wreck (I think he's ok) and they ended up staying in Cookeville longer than planned. Geof, it's like riding a just...oops, maybe that's a bad analogy here.

We went out to Hickory Hollow Mall this morning. They have a great play area where the girls love to go nuts. It was fun for them. Sheryl bought some new clothes for her shrinking body.

That's all folks.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Friday after work we made a spontaneous decision to go to the "movie castle" (Maddie's term) and see Herbie Fully Loaded. It was so much fun! The girls loved it. It took me back to my first Herbie movie in Abilene sometime in the mid 70s. I have vivid memories of it. For those of you who are Abilene readers--remember the old Westgate Mall? I saw Herbie at the Westgate cinema. (I also saw the first coupla Star Wars episodes there) I remember loving Herbie! The girls loved it almost 30 years later.

On another weekend entertainment note--I am loving the "Into the West" series on TNT. I love history and have always loved stories from the old west. If you haven't watched any of it--check it out. It always kills me to think of what we did to the American Indians. That's a whole different blog.

The girls and I stayed outside most of the day playing in the water and enjoying the heat. Last night we went to Otter to meet the group, New Reign. They are a traveling group from Oklahoma Christian. They'll be singing this morning as a part of our services.

Tim is preaching this morning on Nicodemus and his journey to faith. I am excited about the service. New Reign has some great music to add, the guy I wrote about, "Gary", will be coming, and we've got a great service planned. Tonight we're having life group at our house for the first time since before baby Sam was born. Pray for us!

Here's the order of worship for this morning...

Order of Worship

Welcome—Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer- Brennan McGehee/Jeff McInturff
Intro morning and special guests—BST
--Savior (New Reign) With “Magnificent” DVD
--I Stand In Awe
--Salvation Belongs
--Shout Hallelujah
--Open Our Eyes, Lord

Teaching—Tim Woodroof
--You Can Come (New Reign)
--Here In This Place
--All Who Are Thirsty

The Supper—Joe White
--How Could You Say No? (New Reign)

Ministry Moment—Sewing Ministry
Shepherd’s Close--Steve Adams
--You Are Holy

Friday, June 24, 2005

Thanks for the comments yesterday. I went back on the good advice of a friend and changed their names. That was a good call, man. Looks like "Gary" will be at Otter this Sunday.

After I wrote I was re-reading the chapter in Blue Like Jazz about when he and his college friends set up the "confession booth" during the hedonistic week at their school. When kids came in to laugh at them or see what the heck it was about, the Christians confessed to THEM. They confessed that they loved money too much. They confessed that they knew Jesus loved the poor and the hurting and yet it hadn't made much of a difference in the way they treated people. They confessed that they'd given Jesus a bad name by the things they chose to get upset about. And the result? Tears. Tears fell from the eyes of those who'd been hurt by religious people.

Couldn't we find a way to do that? Couldn't we find a way to fess up that we've screwed up? Of course some will go to their graves defending their "God-given, spiritual right" to judge and withdraw fellowship. Whatever. That makes me want to say a string of curse words. What the world needs to see--as in any relationship--is our vulnerability. What's more vulnerable than laying down your life for someone? That's not just a physical act--it's a life-style and a way of thinking. Are we anywhere near it?? Or, have we pacified ourselves by spewing out religious jargon and proof texts until we've convinced ourselves that we know what we're talking about? I feel pretty strongly about this whole thing. Can you tell?

One of the biggest light bulb things for me over the last couple of years (I'm ashamed to say it's taken that long) is that Jesus calls us into relationship for relationship's sake. Often we "befriend" people with the hopes of getting them in the door of our church (some don't even do this). Once they're there, we can relax cause hey--isn't going to church the same as having a relationship with Christ? Nu-uh.

Jesus calls us to the uncomfortable. He calls us to love even when--and especially when it stretches our comfort zones. Look around you. How many people are you in relationship with who aren't just like you? How have you treated that outcast person you see at work or at the gym? How have you treated the gay man or woman in your office? How have you responded to the alcoholic or drug abusing friend? How have you treated the partying, promiscuous co-worker or family member? Professional kindness? Not enough. How have you treated those who've asked you for money? What strides are we making to develop Christ-breathed relationships with those who are needy, lonely, or hurting? Often they are the very ones we run from.

I may sound belligerent here--99% of this is directed at me. I'm more and more convicted about this in my own life. I'm making strides to take care of this and love like I think Jesus would. I'm so distracted by my own selfishness. I'm often too busy or just don't care. Would you pray for me as I pray for you--that we could really be more committed to sharing the love of Christ with those who need him?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

We had a great night at TGIWednesday. The dinner was awesome--and we had more people than we could fit. The time in the sanctuary began with interviewing some of the kids. I asked them what God's favorite animal was. Nathan Bridges said a giraffe. I asked him why and he thought for a minute and said, "Because it starts with a G!!". Judson Chaudoin spoke up and said he thought God's favorite animal might be an alligator. I asked him why and he said, "Because it starts with a G?" The crowd loved it. I asked them other questions like "What is God's job?" Thomas Link spoke up and said, "To take care of his children". Sweet.

The question I threatened to ask that I would love to have heard these kids comment on was "How does God go to the bathroom?" My better judgment took over and I opted for a different approach. But, come know that would have been funny.

Randy Harris spoke on simplicity--but with a different take. He didn't get into details of how to live simply (which is always ironic to me when people try to give you 100 ways to live simply). He talked about the life that Jesus brings and embracing it and finding ways to take that to a hurting world. It was powerful. So many of our people needed to hear that. It's easy for people in the Bible Belt to think that everyone's a Christian and that the statistics of those losing faith or leaving the church (definitely 2 different things there) only apply to places like Los Angeles or NYC. We need to remember that it's all around us. Randy challenged us to get out of the bubble and take this message to a world of people who are hurting and who may not look anything like us--and who will most definitely make church "messy". If church ISN'T messy, something's wrong. Yeah, you can quote me, Concerned Member.

It challenges me--what about you?

(this blog has been edited by the administrator. If you'd like to see the full content, please e-mail me.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Being the resourceful gardener I try to be, I am always looking for creative ways to water the garden while keeping the kids occupied and entertained. Here's my latest attempt.

Now, that's one sad little garden, but it looks better than it used to. Honestly, I think if I would just decide to grow GRASS and WEEDS in my garden, then I'd have much more success. Why is it that there are patches of my yard where I can't get grass to grow, and yet it seems to flourish in my garden? (That's a rhetorical question, by the way.)


Last night we celebrated Paul's birthday at Las Palmas. It was hilarious. Ryan and Sarah Williamson (Paul's wife is Sarah's first cousin) had their two kids, Paul and Jill had their two and we had our three. It was a zoo. As we all tumbled in with our circus children the tables around us all stopped and looked with gaping mouths. We knew it was only a matter of time until we heard, "Check, please!!" from each of the them. (Until Eric and Sallie Miller came to sit at a nearby table--they enjoyed the chaos with us.) We didn't care though. Our kids were covered in hot sauce, rice, and taco. Later they added some chocolate cake to their facial. Baby Jack used Ryan's dress shirt for his napkin. Why not??


Tonight is TGIWednesday again. Randy Harris is here and will be speaking about simplicity. I know it will be a great night. We're doing something a little more scaled back with the kids too.

Has anyone else in ministry noticed that Wednesdays are the longest day of the week?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Sweet Baby Sam! James Taylor should re-write his song.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Looks like it's good but inconclusive news for David Rubio today. The results showed no cancer but a further test might be required. While there is much to rejoice about, the doctors say it's not time to celebrate yet. Although, we'll take every bit of good news possible--even if it has to trickle in. Praise God!


Great day off today. The entire family went to the pool and we took Maddie's friend, Darcy. It was quite the time. I love summer. Tonight Lea Brown came for dinner and Katey Earles dropped in later. We all enjoyed sitting outside and eating the delicious chocolate pie that Betsy Piper made for us. What a blessing the food ministry has been over the last week!

Father, thank you for some good news today. Thank you for giving peace to David and Becky. Thank you for the gift of life and family. I pray that you take my heart and transform it to be more like you. I am a man in need of your transforming power every single day. Thank you for always covering my imperfections with the blood of Jesus.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

"How great the love the Father has lavished on us that we may be called his sons and daughters. And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

Happy Father's Day, everyone! I am the proud father of THREE children. WHOA! I have learned so much from my earthly father, Sam Thomas. He taught me to love--and love deep and true. He taught me to be tough and stick with things. He taught me to be a friend to people and try to leave people better than you found them. I have other "second" fathers in the faith like Ronnie Lorenz and Harold Lipford who have taught me much. I'm also thinking of Bud Arnold this morning. God be praised for so many great role models!

Maddie, Ella, and Sam--I love you more than you'll ever know. I tell you in your ear each night, "There's nothing you could ever do to make me stop loving you." I mean it. I thank God for you. You are a gift to me beyond measure.

David seems to be in great spirits. They hope to know something by Monday afternoon. I think we're all feeling optimistic. I'm praying that God give them peace until then.

This morning Tim will speak about courage. Tonight we will meet for our monthly "Celebration Sunday". We'll be celebrating God as our Father. Here are the worship orders for both services.

Sunday AM
Welcome-Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer—Keith Thompson/Zac Smith
Meet and greet

Praise and Worship—BST
--Praise the Lord
--At the Name of Jesus
--He Is Exalted
--Fill Me With Your Fire
--Light the Fire
--Lord, Reign In Me

--Clap Your Hands
--My Hope it Built (1st verse)
--I am Mine No More (verse 1)

Communion—Chris Sanders
--I Am Mine No More (verse 2)

Ministry Moment-
Shepherd’s charge—Fletcher Srygley
--Rise Up O Church of God


Celebration Sunday
Intro the night--Phillip Duncan
Never Been Unloved (Igniter DVD)

Congregation stands and reads 1 John 3:1
--How Great Is Your Love
--You Are Worthy of My Praise
--A New Anointing
--Shout Hallelujah
--Salvation Belongs To our God
--This is My Father’s World

Open Mic Sharing—How has God been Father to you?

--Father and Friend
--Glorify Thy Name
Prayer—the Lord’s Prayer
--How Deep the Father’s Love
--Father of Mercies

Open Mic Sharing— expressing gratitude to God—What do you want to thank your Heavenly Father for?

--What the Lord has Done In Me
--This Is How We Overcome
--I Belong to Jesus (Chorus)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wednesday night the band and I played and led "You Are Worthy Of My Praise" (I will worship..."). This morning Maddie was dressed in the top to her Snow White outfit and her skirt was a blue plastic grass hula skirt. She had her tambourine and was slapping it, almost on beat, and singing what she thought were the words to "You Are Worthy of My Praise". Her version, sung with great passion, went like this, "You know-- I love to worship, You know-- I love to praise. You, Lord, I love to worship. You, Lord, I love to praise." Of course she followed that up with a techno version of "I Like to Move It" and "Ice Ice, Baby". I loved it!!


We're all praying for David today. He had his biopsy at noon. I will let you know results as soon as they are public. Thank you for your prayerful comments yesterday.


Last night on "Hit Me Baby One More Time" (I watched it while giving Sam a bottle), Howard Jones sang. Wow--did that ever take me back. I loved some Howard Jones music in the 80s. For you Abilene folks, I can never hear him sing without thinking about Kevin Chrane. I know, random.


I got to go to lunch today with 12 people who are being called into leadership to develop this thing that John Coates is calling "The Nashville Choir". Men like Dave Williamson and David Guthrie were there. Jason McArthur went with me. The vision is pretty cool. He's wanting to hand pick this group from professional and non-professional singers in Nashville. Part of the experience was a walk-through tour of the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall going up. It is amazing. 97 Million dollars worth of construction and special planning. It's supposed to be the best concert hall in the world when it's completed. The dream is to do a concert there with this new group. Seeing the inside was amazing. I even got to wear a hard hat. Yeah, Jason and I were stylin in our hard hats!


In honor of Father's Day this weekend, I am going to share with you a section or two of a letter that my father wrote me the day I left to tour with Take One at ACU. I had just graduated from High School, but ACU let me represent the University since I had taken the Junior Scholars program the summer before my Senior year of HS. As a parent, it now seems amazing that my own parents released me to travel the country at 18. I'm so glad they did. My dad wrote me this letter on June 18, 1988. It's been almost 17 years to the day. I've kept it close to me for 17 years and read it often. Even seeing his familiar handwriting makes me feel close to him. I hope this doesn't seem too personal. It's just something that means a lot to me. Dads--be sure to write feelings and thoughts down for your kids. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Miss you, Dad!

Dear Brandon,
You left today on the first leg of leaving home. You can't imagine the void I've felt all day. I thought I had prepared myself for this moment--but now I find that I'm overcome with a flood of memories. I'm exhausted from the constant flashbacks that have gone on in my head all day long. I'll make it through this adjustment time, but I'm not doing so well today. I'm surprised at my reaction, cause I've listened to many of my friends talk about their experienced with empty nest and I've always been able to encourage them with the "right" things to say--and now, today, the right words aren't there for me. For the first time I was able to understand the tears in my mother's eyes when I left home. It's a feeling you can't know until you experience it.

After you left this morning, we came home and tried to stay busy. I worked in the yard, but couldn't get in the mood to really work. I cut down the flowers under your window that had been damaged by hail--but kept thinking how much you liked the flowers and used to cut them and put them on the graves of your pets (ok--this is totally humiliating--and unfortunately, for me, true.)Then I cut off the long rose stems and thought about how you liked for me to keep those trimmed so they wouldn't scratch across your window at night.

I went around to the back yard then, and suddenly, the little mound out toward the camper flashed a memory of your sand box--do you know there is still sand under that mound? I stood looking at it and then up in the mulberry tree where I could see a few boards left from the tree house we made. Remember the night we spent trying to sleep up there?

I walked on back to the barn and inside I could see your go-cart and bicycle. In back of the barn was your old swing set and Tiger's (my horse) cart. I'm seeing all of this through misty eyes--I haven't been brave about this at all. Walking back to the house, the dogs barked and I thought again of all your pets and the weird names you gave them. "Polo" for a dog, has got to be the craziest name I have ever heard--and now, suddenly, it's beautiful.

So much for the yard! Right now I may never work in it again!! I can hardly bear to look at the gazebo without thinking about your senior party.

I came in the house then and told Mom I'd help her change the bedroom furniture around. That turned out to be and all morning-plus-effort. After several trial layouts we finally decided on one that will be a little bit different. At least the room got a good cleaning.

(here he rambles a bit about other activities through the day ending with...)
I got a haircut and came home. It's still bad around here. The apricots don't taste quite as good now, and the house is awfully quiet. It will take a while to get accustomed to it. I'm already looking forward to you being back at ACU and getting to go to the productions you'll be in. I'm very proud of you and I'm really glad you are getting to see the country this summer--it's a terrific opportunity.

I wrote all of this down so you'd know how your dad felt on the day you left. This has been a very long day and it's just 5:25pm now.

We're going with Dave and Ann to the Paramount tonight to see "Fountainhead". That'll help pass the evening away. I'll miss you in your spot at church in the morning, and at lunch when we go out to eat.

I'm not writing this to make you feel bad because this is a natural experience that all parents go through. It's just a chronicle of life and I wanted to share it with you.

God Bless you,

Thursday, June 16, 2005

You may recall me mentioning David and Becky Rubio. David is a good friend and on staff with me at OC, and Becky is one of Sheryl's best friends. They are the ones Sheryl organized the "While You Were Out" thing for. A few months back, David experienced a weird virus that attacked his heart. They thought it was pleurisy. He was experiencing some pain over the weekend and went in on Monday to get it checked. The CT scan showed a large mass between his heart and lung in the pleura.

Tuesday night, David sat out on the back porch of The Ross's house. Tony, also and Otter Creeker, is his doctor (and mine too). Tony shared the difficult news with David and told him that this was not a good place to have a growth (is there any good place to have a growth??). No matter whether it is malignant or benign, it must be removed which means a very difficult surgery.

Yesterday morning, David shared this news with the staff. We were shocked and immediately prayed over him. Afterwards, he came in my office and we talked about a lot of stuff...some of which involved how to talk to his 6yr, 5yr, and 6 month old kids about this. YUCK.

Sheryl and I met David and Becky at McDonald's (thanks, Julie, for also coming for a bit. I know you're presence was so encouraging!). As our kids played we just sat and stared at each other not really knowing what to say. Basically, they are in this limbo of being worried and not even knowing the full extent of the problem. That stinks.

Last night after the speaker was through David addressed the church and told them about his condition. As he was speaking, his parents (from Memphis) came in the back door. Fred Ewing came up with the Elders to lay hands on David and Becky and pray for his healing. He called the entire church down. People crowded as close as possible while Fred took some anointing oil and anointed David's head. He said something like, "This oil represents the healing power of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit that covers you, and this church's commitment to support you through this journey." It was beautiful. I had not seen anyone do it quite like Fred. He rubbed it all over David's forehead, his neck, and even into his hair--giving the visual picture of saturation. It was so very powerful. I can't even type this without crying about it.

David has a biopsy tomorrow. Will you join me in praying for his health? Many of you know David. Pray for him this next week. He and his family moved into the dorm last night at Lipscomb because he is one of the people in charge of the Impact camp there every summer. As he tends to do, he is charging full-steam ahead. Please pray for his strength and for peace for Becky.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Last night was truly magical. The girls absolutely loved it! We discovered that the year I saw Peter Pan was Cathy Rigby's first year--31 years ago. She's been flying ever since! Maddie's eyes could not have gotten any bigger--they were like pancakes the entire night. What fun! The show was amazing too. All of you in Nashville with kids need to see this before it leaves.

On a sadder note, a close friend got some very bad test results back from a CT scan he had yesterday. After he communicates with some family and other people we'll start praying for him by name. It's just hard to think of much else today.

As I kissed my sweet girls last night and put them in bed, I rejoiced for one more day here. I rejoiced that God is allowing me to experience the beauty of life and of love. These are very precious gifts and we often take them for granted.

Tonight we have TGI Wednesday again. The band is playing, Miss Melanie is reading a story to the kids and then we have a special guest speaker who will talk about priorities.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tonight we are going to see Peter Pan at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center with Cathy Rigby. Maddie is so excited. It's all she can think about. Not even knowing, Eve brought over some "big sister" gifts last night and Maddie's was a Tinker Bell doll. (Maddie has also decided to have a Tinker Bell birthday party next month.) She could barely contain herself and go to sleep last night. So cute. My mom bought us all tickets and we're all going--if you can even believe it. Kiki is staying home with BST (Baby Sam Thomas). He's been really easy with bottle and such.

Peter Pan was the very fist musical I saw as a kid. It was probably around 1973 in El Paso, TX. We were visiting my aunt and I still remember it to this day. It was so magical.

Michael Buble is coming in July and we have tickets to see him. You may recall that I've blogged about him several times. I really love his voice and music. Both CDs are really great!

Now, the whole diaper thing...please. Girls are so easy. With Sam there's way too much to consider. I think I had my first successful diaper change over the weekend. Before that it was everywhere. I had heard that little baby boys were like sprinklers. Obviously, they were right. This is where the pee-pee tee-pee's will come in handy--also an Eve gift.

OK--now the really big news!!! Today marks the first day that Blue Bell ice cream can be bought in Nashville area Kroger and Publix supermarkets. (Insert angels rejoicing here!)

All Texans can attest to the miraculous powers of Blue Bell ice cream. People here who have only known Purity are in for such a treat--no offense to Purity lovers. The Tennessean (Middle Tennessee's major newspaper) organized a taste test. People were blindfolded and given bites of each brand of ice cream. Some were familiar with Blue Bell and some weren't. When those who were familiar with it were given the bite of Blue Bell, they clapped their hands and screamed. I laughed at this. Lee Ann Womack, Nashville country artist, even commented that she had a house in Texas but now that Blue Bell was in TN, she might sell it. Hurry out and get some. All flavors are good, but I especially love homemade vanilla (tastes like it's right out of the ice cream freezer) and homemade vanilla with strawberries. Mmmm!

I met Sheryl and the kids at the park for lunch. She amazes me. Her brother and his family are also here to help, but just the fact that she's ready to get out and go is incredible to me. Sam was basking in the sun chasing off some of his jaundice. He is so fun to hold. I just can't believe he's really here.

Have a great day in blog land. I'll report on Peter Pan tomorrow.

PS: Looks like Peg C. and TL were the tied winners for the closest guess. Am I right?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's been a full week. Everyone's doing well. Sam is eating better and looking cuter and cuter every day. The girls are just eating this up. Sheryl's folks left Friday morning. The girls were very sad to see them go. However, Sheryl's brother, Chuck, and his family came last night so they've had plenty of activity to keep them occupied.

I stayed home with Sam this morning while Sheryl went to church with the family. I think people were floored to see her. She looks great. it's good for her to get out and combat cabin fever. And it was great to have the morning with BST (Baby Sam Thomas).

Here are some pictures of last week. This first one is of him coming home from the hospital and then the girls mobbing him!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

We're all glad to be home. We came home yesterday around lunch and had two very excited girls. They practically smothered him. I'll try and post some pictures of the return home later this week.

Baby Sam is as cute as can be. He has been sleeping a lot--except in the middle of the night when he ought to. Although we still don't think it's a case of mixing up his days and nights. I think he's just getting adjusted.

We've had some friends drop by and celebrate with us. It's so fun welcoming a child into the world. It never fails to amaze me--the gift of birth. I mean, how can anyone see something like that and not believe in God? I know it happens, but I think people have to be blind not to see God's hand in this whole thing.

Last night Ella wanted to say bedtime prayers. She said, "Deh Gah, bless Mommy, Daddy, Ella, Baby Sahhm...NOT Maddie." Then she grinned and added, "I just kidding, Gah." That girl. Then this morning she came in and laid her head on my shoulder after she woke up and said, "Oh, honey. You're my honey." Precious.

We've had a great day playing outside. My mom brought over the giant whale pool that sprays water from it's nose and we played long and hard. I bought some annuals at Wal-Mart this morning (on sale for one dollar) and planted them in the garden. I don't know where this that burst of energy came from. Afterwards I thought I was going to pass out.

It's been fun having family here. Sheryl's parents leave tomorrow. We've been blessed by their presence. We're going to enjoy one more night of card playing and eating. I'm going to win.

Thanks again for all your warm wishes and messages of love and support. We appreciate you!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Thank you so much for the warm wishes and sweet words! It was so cool to hear from some of you I haven't heard from in a while like Wendy Beth and others. Thanks for remembering us.

What a great day! Sam just looks so cute. I wish I could introduce you in person. Since I can't I thought I'd steal away and post a few pictures. I hope you are able to view these.

We go home tomorrow (Lord willing). Thank you for all your prayers and joyful messages. They have meant a lot to us!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Samuel Scott Thomas was born June 6, 2005 at 5:14pm. He is a perfect reflection of his oldest sister, Maddie! He weighs 8.11 3/4 and is 21 1/2 inches long. He has honey colored hair and is a great eater! He is already adored by his mommy and daddy and both of his big sisters, Maddie and Ella. Praise the Lord!

Sheryl pushed for about 5 minutes. It was the easiest one of all three, according to her. Thank you for your prayers. All is well. Time for rest. God is good!!!

OK--so I just discovered the computer room inside the family waiting room. It's currently 4pm. We've been here since 6:15 this morning. It's been a good day for most everyone. Sheryl's doing fine and enjoying her epidural. We're still waiting. Sam is taking his own sweet time. I am just hoping that this means he's laid back. Please, God.

Maddie and Ella were up here for a while. Maddie was not herself. We went down to the cafeteria and ate lunch. She sat in my lap the entire time and felt really warm. After a while she dozed off only to wake up and throw up. YUCK! I hate throw up!! Bless her heart. I felt so sorry for her. Kiki took her home and she's in bed sleeping. Hopefully, it was a passing thing.

Jill Young has been here most of the afternoon serving as the labor and delivery comedic relief. My mom, Sheryl's parents, and I have been laughing at her and trying not to get impatient.

Come on, SAM!! You can do it, son.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray thta he'll come soon. More later.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

OK, so maybe it wasn't the last time to blog before Sam. I had to write about the events of the afternoon. After church we went back to the summer kick-off for the youth program in the fellowship hall. It was complete with lights, music, a specila appearance by Hall and Oats (AKA: Rubio and Jordan House), and several Rubio style videos. The reason we went was because the youth interns did a While You Were Out video of last the events last week. I wanted Sheryl to be there and enjoy the fruits of her hard work. She planned the While You Were Out thing for David and Becky Rubio while they were gone on vacation. I just cannot tell you what an amazing thing it was to see the before and after. Sheryl had a crazy idea and because she loves them so much, and because everyone loves them so much, it spread like wild fire. Watching her on the video made me cry. I am so proud that I am married to someone who is that kind of a friend. Becky Rubio came over last night with the kids and wanted to hear every detail from Sheryl. I know they had fun talking about it.

This woman who manages a complete remodeling project at 38 weeks in her pregnancy, who laughs and shares, who cooks and creates; this woman who is now almost 40 weeks pregnant and still amazing beautiful--THIS is who I get to be married to. My kids will grow up knowing her as their mom. WOW! Why God blessed me like this I can never know. But I sure am grateful.

This is a letter from Rick Warren that went out to a group of faith leaders. (Also see Mike Cope's blog from this weekend). Praise God that a pastor in a large church in America is actually trying to do something. Click HERE to sign.

June 3, 2005

Dear co-worker in Christ,

I have a simple request -- but it could determine whether millions live or die.

You’ve probably read in the papers about “The ONE Campaign: To Make Poverty History” that’s been endorsed by a wide coalition of folks from all across the faith and political spectrum. Helping the hurting is something we all want to do.

I’ve never been involved in partisan politics -- and don’t intend to do so now -- but global poverty is an issue that rises far above mere politics. It is a moral issue … a compassion issue … and because Jesus commanded us to help the poor, it is an obedience issue! He told us to do all we can to alleviate the pain of our brothers and sisters: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40, NKJV)

That’s why John Stott, Billy Graham, and many other evangelical leaders are joining me in lending our names and prayers to this campaign. I deeply believe that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God’s love for the world: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17, NIV)

We are blessed to be a blessing to others, and certainly America, as the most blessed nation on our planet, has the greatest obligation to help those who are stuck in poverty around the world. Last month, I was in Kenya and Uganda, and then in Rwanda where the average income in that nation is 67 cents a day! Imagine trying to raise a family on that.

If you were hopelessly in debt, with no chance of ever getting out of debt -- or even your children getting out of debt -- you’d despair. But if someone cancelled all your debts -- as the Bible commanded Israel to often do -- you’d have the hope of a new future. The poor aren’t asking for a handout -- they just need a hand up!

This summer, at the G8 conference, our nation has a historic opportunity to lead the world by showing a visible and significant commitment to the fight against global poverty, hunger, and disease. In early July, President Bush will gather together with leaders from the world’s eight wealthiest nations in Edinburgh, Scotland, to discuss these very issues -- especially in Africa.

We all grieved when 250,000 lives were lost in the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But there is a health tsunami of that proportion in Africa every 12 days!

What can we do? For the past two years, I’ve had 4,500 of our Saddleback members quietly testing a prototype of our global P.E.A.C.E. Plan in 47 countries. It is a strategy for small groups in churches to show compassion. Once we have the template perfected, we’ll share it with every church that’s interested.

But there is something much simpler that you can do right now: Join me and other evangelical leaders in an open letter to President Bush that encourages him -- with our support and prayers -- to take specific, measurable actions to fight poverty, hunger, and disease at the G8 summit. Below is a copy of the text of this open letter we’re sending.

All I need you to do is e-mail me back at giving your name and title, and I’ll add your name to the list. Also you can visit for more information.

If you can send a copy of your signature (preferably in a jpeg format) to add to the bottom of the letter, that would be great, but don’t let that delay your response. We'd rather hear from you now.

Thanks in advance for showing your compassion for those suffering from disease, hunger, and poverty.

May God bless your ministry,

Dr. Rick Warren
Pastor, Saddleback Church
Author, The Purpose Driven Life

We saw Madagascar yesterday. WE LOVED IT! The kids laughed (although not as much as I did). It was a great day. We had "Thomas Family Fun in the Sun Day" aptly named by Sheryl. My mom had gotten the girls this big beach ball thing that squirts water. We had that going and played in the water and ate pizza and danced and laughed all morning. My mom and Kiki were there which made it even more fun. I think none of us know what to do with ourselves. We're just all ready to see Sam.

I won't be blogging again until I have seen the face of my son. Whoa. Hang on....need a sec to process that one. (Thank you, Lord!) We check into the hospital at 6:15 in the morning. We'd appreciate your prayers. (And, um...thanks for the suggestions. While we already knew most of those, I appreciate the reminder. I think.) Did I mention that Sheryl also took a midnight walk last night? She went downstairs and got Kiki and they went walking. I think she's ready, don't you?

Father, You have answered our prayers in bringing this baby into existence. I ask you, Lord, to continue to watch over him as he goes through some really hard stuff over the next couple of days. What a shock it must be to leave such a happy, safe environment and be thrust into the world of hunger, bright lights, loud noises, and interrupted rest. Thank you for knowing what that's like. Bless Sheryl and please keep her safe. Bless Sam and keep him safe too. Thank you, Lord!

Here's the order of worship this morning--

Welcome—Tim Woodroof
Family Prayer
Meet and greet
Praise and Worship—BST
--Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
--Praise to the Lord, The Almighty
--Holy Spirit, Rain Down
--Reading John 6:33, 35
--Break Thou the Bread of Life
--Magnificent--BST and team


--Reflective Meditation
--Here I Am to Worship
--O Sacred Head (vs 1&2)
--O Sacred Head (vs 3)

Birthday Sunday—Bob Enkema
Ministry Moment
Shepherd’s Close
--You Are Holy (Chorus only)

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's been a really busy day. I haven't even had a moment to blog. No baby--at least not yet. Sheryl was feeling weird tonight, but it seems to have passed.

The "While You Were Out" project seems to have reached it's completion. Talk about community...I can't wait to tell you more about it. I don't want to ruin any surprises so I'll wait until Sunday to report. It ended up involving around 30 workers and lots of contributors. We were all out there working tonight. Sheryl was helping put finishing touches on things and I was steam cleaning carpets. The girls were happy just to play on the bed and be around all those people.

I got to talk to Chris Davis today. Chris is a mutual friend of Jeff Berry. Chris is such a neat guy. We hadn't seen each other in a while so we spent some time catching up this afternoon. Chris is a producer and arranger. He has produced the Veggie Tale stuff, Cedermont Kids, and written a huge boat load of that we love to sing called "Here In This Place" (Lay your burden down...). He told me he's working on a new project called "Baby Praise". These things are selling like you wouldn't believe. Some of those early Cedermont Kids and other children's records he's worked on have just gone triple (yes, triple) platinum. We talked about getting together to try and write a some kids worship tunes. That might be a nice change of pace.

The girls always make a point of reminding me on Friday nights that "tomorrow is Saturday and you'll get to be home ALL DAY LONG!" I eat it up. There will be a day coming not too far from now when they will have their own plans and schedules and not care as much about spending the entire day with me. I am soaking in every moment I can get.

Lastly, I mentioned in an earlier blog that I am re-reading Donald Miller's BLUE LIKE JAZZ. I keep wanting to copy sections on my blog. Today I realized that I could easily end up re-printing the entire book on here. There are so many great sections. I really hope each of you has had the chance to read it. We're working on getting him to come to Otter in September to speak to our staff and then the church about being missional. Today our administrator, Doug Sanders, suggested that instead of it being just us why not combine with Fellowship Bible (the church who'll practically be in our backyard at our new location) and have him speak to the combined staff about how we can join together to be missional in that community. I am loving, LOVING, that idea. I'll let you know how that progresses.

Have a great weekend, blog family. God is good. I've told you that I've been processing lately. One thing that Donald Miller wrote that I completely identified with is when he said (paraphrased), "I don't feel like I chose faith. I more feel like it chose me. I am just drawn to believe. It's in every cell of my being." That made more sense than anything I've read, heard or thought lately. That's me.

Good night!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I have to add this today. I have been enjoying a couple of other blogs. These guys are out there really doing something. I think you'll be encouraged and challenged as you read. I've added them to my links over there----> but you can also access their blogs below.

Messy Ministry--Steve Holt

Journey--Cody Hufstedler

Last night was so much fun. We had a huge crowd for dinner and then a full house for worship. We had all the kids with us from 7-7:15. We've never really done this. It was a ZOO, but I LOVED it! I called the kids (1st grade and under) up to the front and had them help me with the first two songs. The band was jammin and we we sang "Every Move I Make", which is Maddie's favorite song right now. She calls is the "Na Na Song". Most of the kids were clapping and singing. After the second song I had them return to their families and we continued. Sheryl was singing on the team--yes she's like 11 months pregnant and still going! We didn't notice, at first, that Ella had come back on stage and was doing flips. She had her butt in the air trying to do a somersault. Barney panties in plain sight to the world. Let's just put it this way, she was extremely reluctant to leave stage.

It was an AWESOME night. Lisa Harper is delightful. I've known of her for years but have never had the honor of hearing her teach. Amazing and gifted teacher!

Her work with establishing the Renewing the Heart Conferences has been powerful for women of all ages. She taught from Malachi last night. I wish you all could have been here. (There is a CD of last night available).

My correspondence with the anonymous questioner went south in a hurry yesterday. It's complicated to explain why I even replied, but he dropped a name of a dear friend in a later email that made me look at this with completely new eyes. I answered all of his questions with honesty and vulnerability. He wrote back and said, "Generality is fine when talking about the weather, but not in matters of eternity."

It was disappointing and led me to believe that the name dropped to me was only dropped in order to gain trust and not to have a real conversation. I know most of you are saying, "DUH??!!" But, in my mind, I never want to be so jaded by those idiots over at Concerned Members that I miss an opportunity to truly minister. (By the way, I never--EVER--read that stuff. It only distracts me from my real purpose.) It appears they bested me this time. I still refuse to say I've learned my lesson. There is something to be said for wisdom and Godly caution when dealing with such people, but I just never want to us to be so closed to inquiries that we immediately dismiss them. Even though I was WRONG this time--let's just pretend for a moment that I wasn't. What if that person were truly interested and based on the sins and mistakes of others I wrote him off? I don't know. It's a complicated issue for me. All I know is dropping the name of a good friend to gain trust might be one of the oiliest, nastiest, most deceptive things I've experienced in a while. Yuck.

MOVING ON--and we are. We are moving on.

Lisa talked about God's relentless love and discipline for those He loves. It was wonderful. One of my favorite quotes of the night was, "You'll never see the back of God." In other words, God won't leave. Sometimes we labor under this false idea that if God only knew who we really are down deep, He'd leave. If He only knew how screwed up our world is, He's say, "Adios!" Well, He won't. He knows and He's chosen to stay and love. Praise God!

"How Great is the love the Father has lavished on us--that we might be called sons and daughters of God! And that is what we are!" I John 3:1

That applies to you, me, and even the writer of those e-mail messages. We are blessed to be servants of the Most High God. We are blessed to have the example of Jesus to teach us how to serve others. We are blessed to know mercy and grace. Therefore, let's put into practice what we know. We are a messy people. God's people have always been that way.

I loved the candor with which a friend at Otter Creek spoke on Sunday as he responded after the message. I think it went something like this, "When is all this going to make a difference? I'm tired of coming and pretending like my marriage hasn't had struggles. And, I'm tired of coming pretending I don't struggle with cursing. I've already wanted to say 'damn' three times in this speech alone!" It might be one of my favorite things ever said. At least it was genuine. We needed to hear it and need to learn from it.

We've got bigger fish to fry than ironing out all our theological differences. We have enough to worry about with struggling to be authentic in our journey with Jesus and serving the world around us. What a cool adventure the Lord has set before us! It's so cool to be on this journey with all of you. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Last night we went to my mom's house and took some dessert. The girls played and I changed Mom's air filters. While we were there we discovered the photo albums. The album of pictures when I was Maddie's age created some giggles with the girls. Here are a couple of pictures we found...

See? I've always had this hair style.

That last one looks like a head shot from "Hee-Haw". It's a wonder I wear shoes at all and have all my teeth.

After we put the girls in bed I had all this nervous energy. I compiled a list of the birth guesses. (This is what happens when you're nervously awaiting the first glimpse of your son!) Here's what we have so far. Some have already expired. Sorry!

May 29, 8.1--Phil
May 31, 10.0-Mom
June 1, 8.5--Ginger Handy
June 1, 8.9--Fajita
June 2, 9.2--Debbie
June 2, 9.8--Stephen
June 3, 8.7--Beaner
June 3, 9.7--Karen
June 4, 8.0--Jenni
June 4, 8.2--Cousin Janie
June 4, 8.12-Janet Garza
June 4, 9.6--Stephanie
June 4, 9.7--Ed Harrell
June 5, 7.14-Craig Fisher
June 5, 8.7--Andrew Battistelli
June 5, 8.11-Mark Lowenstein
June 5, 9.4--Katherine
June 5, 10.2-Deb
June 6, 8.6--Peg C
June 6, 8.6--TL
June 6, 9.2 1/2--Amy Westerman
June 6, 10.4-Rob Cox
June 6, 11.0-Clarissa
June 7, 12:03am, 8.4--Jeremy Houck (Sheryl cursed you!!)
June 7, 9.4 1/2--Zac (Screetch still hasn't reported his guess)
June 10, 8.9--Tim Castle (are you crazy??)

I'll add mine in by saying June 6, 9.8 12:15pm. I know no one else cares about this as much as I do, but it sure is fun to think about! (Sheryl has a good doc appt this morning. It could be before Monday, but I'm still guessing Monday.)

Lastly, thanks for the comments yesterday. The reality is, email communication pretty much sucks. Admit it. There's no emotion, it's hard to tell tone of voice, and it's impersonal. Perhaps their questions are coming from sincerity. I doubt it. But, it's just another good lesson in communication. If there are questions that important to ask, and if they mean anything to you, pick up the phone and have a conversation. Or, better yet, have a face to face.

I got a response this morning from them after answering their questions with more questions. Here's what they said..."We are a patient body of individuals. We reserve our endorsement for the privilege of your answers, or that of another in authority within your group."

Glad they're patient cause they probably won't be hearing from me again. Maybe Larry can take this one on! Go, Larry!

Tonight we begin our Summer Series--TGI Wednesday!

For worship, Clarissa is playing keys, Michael LuSK is acoustic, Jason Patrick is perc, and Sheryl, Amanda, Philip Henry and I will be singing. Our speaker is Lisa Harper who used to be the Women's Outreach director at Focus on the Family. She began the "Renewing the Heart" conferences that some of you may have attended. She lives here in Nashville and has the reputation of being a fantastic speaker and teacher. I know we'll be blessed by hearing from her. If you're near Nashville, come join us! Dinner at 6pm and then we begin worship at 7pm.