Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tracing some of this family history has been so very fascinating! I remember hating history in high school and then taking Dr. Fred Bailey at ACU. Dr. Bailey is a renown expert in Southern American history. I fell so in love with the subject that I almost changed my major! Doing this family history stuff has really given that side of me a charge.

Many of my relatives settled in Tennessee for at least a couple of generations. It's interesting to feel so at home here in the state of my ancestors.

While we've known that the Thomas family came to America in the mid 1800's from Ireland, we've not known much about the Brandon/Tucker/Kirkland side of my mom's family. (My mom's maiden name was Brandon!) It's been so interesting to find that most of those families date back to the early 1700's (one to the 1600's) as Americans. The Herndon side of my mom's family is the one we've known most about...pioneers in the restoration movement.

I think not having siblings and always wishing for them made me interested in family history at an early age. I've enjoyed researching all these connections. What fun to discover your roots!

Tonight we're having a New Year's Eve party. Maddie and Ella are also having a friend stay over. It should be a fun night. I pray everyone will have a great night and please be careful out there. Happy early New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Look what Santa brought us!! Our dear friends, Shane and Lori Holland (and kids) are moving from East TN to Arkansas. We were so excited to be a stop through point last night. Shane was one of my best friends at ACU and I spent lots of time in his family's home in Arlington. He was also a groomsman in our wedding. Lori and Sheryl sang together in Daybreak at ACU, so our friendships run deep on all sides! It was SUCH a blessing to be with them. There just really isn't anything like old friendships. So much history! I remember Shane being such a rock for me when my dad died. I have vivid memories of him standing with me at the burial in Groesbeck, TX. We've been through a lot together and 18 years later, still laugh at the same things and still can pick right back up where we left off.

Here are some pics...

The Holland Family--
Brianna, William, Lori, Shane and Hannah

Sheryl and Lori used to sing in a group together at ACU--Daybreak. I still have one of their tapes! (yes, friends, a cassette. Our kids will think they are hilarious like we do with 8 tracks!)

All the Thomas and Holland kids. They had such a great time playing! (don't you love William's "bling" shirt?!)

Shane and BST

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Watched a Bono video tonight where Bill Hybels interviewed him about his passion and prophetic voice calling out for social reformation with regard to the poverty in Africa. One of his biggest passions is the AIDS crisis there. It's astounding. The Church can NOT sit back and watch anymore. It was incredibly convicting. AND...I still say if you haven't read the book--the interview with Bono--RUN to the bookstore and buy it!

I'm still enjoying thoughts of our Christmas time together. The reality is--presents or no presents, my family is my favorite gift. Hearing about so many children orphaned, so many people suffering, and the millions of people living in extreme poverty convicts me again of what really means most to me...and my sweet family is one of those blessings.

Here's a pic I haven't posted--

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's out!! The project shipped to stores last week and is now available on the website as well... Family Christian Stores. YEA!!!

Chris and Gail and their kids left today for the long trek back to MN. Bless. I think I would slit my wrists if I had to drive that right now.

Tonight we have a devo with everyone instead of classes...but it should be worth coming to. Doug has some great things planned.

I had some fun last night on My dad was always into family history and got me interested. My paternal family is fascinating...full of crazies, ministers, politicians, and music people. I LOVE learning about them...and obviously I fit right in!

My mom's family history is somewhat unknown except for one strand which dates back to the earliest beginnings of the restoration movement (pioneer preachers, evangelists, etc). Last night, to my joy, I discovered some lost relatives from another strand and was able to trace them back to 1811. Seeing the original documents from census reports in 1850, death certificates, etc, was so cool! That website is offering a few days of free exploring. You should check it out. I'll report more later as I get it figured out.

Tomorrow it's back to spin class at the gym. I've eaten my weight in hashbrown casserole. It was sooooo good though--and WORTH IT!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too! Here's a picture of us around the table--all the family joined by Brian Randolph and Kyle Rigsby. Awesome lunch thanks to Sheryl and my mom!

Christmas Day has come and gone but the fun remains! This afternoon, Chris and I took the kids to play at McDonald's. After supervising kids at play, we were ready for some guys' time. We headed downtown for an exercise in complete stupidity. I took Chris down to Music Row and we took pictures...

BST sings a duet with The Piano Man...extra special.

My brother-in-law, Chris (Fajita) and the statue of The Piano Man.

Here I am posing with the controversial statue on Music Row...Musica. At least I have my clothes on.

Have any of you seen any good movies over the holidays?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, everyone!!! Happy Birthday, Jesus!

The kids were about to fall over themselves wanting to run down the stairs this morning! You can just see the excitement on their faces.

Here's the roadster...thanks to Nonnie! They had to go on a scavenger hunt finding clues that eventually led them to the garage where there were screams of delight! The girls ended up riding it in the pouring rain.

Sam ran immediately to his Speedy McQueen tricycle and squeeled. He had freaked when he saw it in Costco. He was so cute riding it!

The kids enjoy digging in their stockings!

Daddy and Maddie enjoy some Christmas breakfast as we watch the Disney Christmas Parade on ABC.

More fun to some today! Brian is coming over for lunch and the kids are enjoying their new toys. Have a happy day, friends!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

We had a great morning and family worship experience today. It was so fun seeing the kids on stage doing their part. The rest of our day has been full of anticipation. Kids are so fun to watch at Christmas! Here are some pics from today...

I finally got the snow men up last they sit perched and watching for Santa!

The kids sat and watched a Christmas movie this afternoon...pausing every 10 minutes to ask how much longer before we opened some gifts.

Cousins in front of the tree ready and waiting for the Christmas Eve opening of gifts!

Sam enjoys his new accordion that Nonnie gave him!

Sierra (9 years old but reads on a 6th grade level...amazing!) read the traditional "Night Before Christmas" before bed. She put on these granny glasses that Sheryl made for Halloween

Santa came! I quietly slipped into the den and snapped a pic! (The stockings
hanging are all made by favorites!)

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

Yesterday was so much fun! The cousins got here late Friday night and the girls woke up early Saturday to see them. It was a really great day...wrapping gifts, going on a mission to Cool Springs with Fajita (my bro-in-law), assembling toys and feeling really accomplished, making Christmas candy, and laughing with family. Here are some pics...

Maddie, Sierra and Ella wrote out tickets, cut them out, and handed them to each of us for their "show". Canaan was behind the chair with a microphone announcing each act. Maddie played "Away in a Manger" while Sierra sang and Ella danced with a tambourine. It was really awesome!

Canaan and Maddie celebrated by making chocolate covered candy canes!

This morning we are having an Otter Creek family worship experience. I am excited about the morning! A clip from "A Charlie Brown Christmas", different segments presented by preschoolers, Kindergarteners and 1st graders, 2nd-6th graders, some youth group members doing a reading, and the Hall family leading us through communion guiding our hearts towards the gift we have in Jesus.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The massive "This Is My Story, This Is My Song" project for Family Christian Stores is finally done and back! YEA! It looks AWESOME! It's a box set complete with 6 CDs and a book of hymn stories. Look for it in your local Family Christian Store. (It's a blue-ish box) I sang several solos on it and also sang on some of the choral pieces. I'm really happy with how it turned out. Eric Wyse is the man!

Last night we went over to "Nonnie's" (my mom) for a nice dinner and Christmas cheer. So fun! The girls and Sam played and played and played. It's fun being over at Mom's house during any holiday. Whether it's Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, or the 4th of July, Mom's house always looks like you stepped into a department store display window. She is a decorating genius. always makes for a magical environment because there's warmth and lots of love to go around. I'm so glad she lives here!

Last night I braved Cool Springs...even WALMART. Yes, friends, I had lost my mind. However, I discovered that the best time to go really is around 9pm before the malls close and after the main rush.

Chris (Fajita) and Gail and their kids came in late last night. Our kids have been anticipating their arrival for weeks. We're so glad they're here!

Two more days!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I am just busting with excitement! I got a message from my old singing partner from Norwegian Cruise Line, Beverley. She's getting baptized Sunday!! YEA! Bev is one of two lead female singers for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars". I'm so, so, so excited for you, Bev!

Like I said a week or so ago, things seem to come around full circle. In the last month I have had more conversations and weird inspirations regarding my time working with Norwegian than I have in 10 years. Wonder what God could be doing???

Today I fought the crowds in Cool Springs doing a little last minute Christmas shopping. Basically, a nightmare. And, I am certain I was one of THOSE husbands/brothers/fathers who, as I walked around Ann Taylor, had one of those glazed what-should-I-buy expressions. One of the women came over to me saying, as a mother would to her four year old, "Siiiir, can I heeeelp youuu??" night! Chase, hide and seek, baths for kids, and then a massive wrapping marathon!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yesterday morning we attended Ella's program. It's weird having two different programs to attend now that they are going on different days...and it's only the beginning I know. Ella did a great job!

I spent most of the afternoon loading set pieces from the show on flatbeds and unloading them at the warehouse. Thanks to Brian Randolph, Ed Rucker, Dee, and later, Kyle---things went quickly.

Last night we had Christmas with Kevin and Kiki before Sheryl and I headed to a Christmas dinner party at Gary Musick's house. As we were opening gifts with Kiki, Sam looked at his new Baby Einstein's DVD and said, plain as day, "Oooooh, my gooooodnessssss!" We about all fell out. It will be such a trip watching him enjoy Christmas this year!

Last night we had a special Christmas treat at Gary and Ellen Musick's house. It was beautiful and the food was incredible. I got to visit with some folks I hadn't seen in a while and met a woman who worked for Show Productions (they did all the different Six Flags theme park shows) AND Jean Ann Ryan Productions for Norwegian Cruise Line. We had a CRAZY conversation. Seems we kept missing being in the same cast by one show here or there. Weird. We knew a lot of the same people. We did some of the same shows...just before or after each other. We laughed at the sequin and gold suits for "Dance". It was just freaky talking to someone who's lived such a parallel life in some ways. It was a WONDERFUL night. Beautiful home, amazing family, great friends, hilarious stories, and did I mention the FOOD...Thank you, Gary and Ellen!! We love you!

Here are some pictures from Ella's big day!

Ella (middle) is all smiles ready to begin her program!

Ella and her class sing and get really into the hand motions.

Ella gets her moment with Santa. She'd been waiting for this for a while. (later, Santa helped me move set pieces to the warehouse...THANKS, SANTA!)

5 more days!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Here are some pics of Maddie's program yesterday at school--

Maddie is all smiles as they take the stage...the kid in front of her doing the walrus is cracking me up! Looks like something I'd do.

Here's one of the whole group...the little bitties all the way up to the pre-k kids.

Maddie and two of her best buds after the program at their Christmas party. (Sarah Katherine, Maddie and Ryan)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Well, the cast and crew of "Sanders Family Christmas" are breathing a huge sigh of relief and satisfaction today. The show closed last night with another great audience. It was bitter-sweet in lots of ways for us. We were all ready for a break, but we are all sad to say goodbye to these characters.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this show a success! I am so amazed and speechless when I consider how many incredibly talented people God has put around me. I had so much fun working on this show. I'll miss you, ol' "Mervin".

Here are some pictures from last night...

Sonya (Mrs. Sanders) poses in the green room before the show with Becky, our lovely costumer.

The quirky and lovable Sanders Family and Pastor Oglethorp.

our most wonderful musicians!

The entire cast with Eve, our wonderful director and Katey, our lovely assistant director.

As Amanda Vickers (Denise Sanders) kept telling me, "Things come in THREEs". (car wreck in my car, hit and run on a car I was borrowing...) Last night I got #3 on the way home. We had a 2 hour set strike--really amazing it only took 2 hours even though we didn't get everything loaded. I headed home about midnight--completely exhausted. I kept wondering why the van (my SECOND borrowed car now) was making rumbling noises. The gas gauge didn't say "E" yet...well, apparently it doesn't have to. I sat in my car, at midnight, having run out of gas and just laughing. Thankfully, Katey hadn't gotten too far and was able to come rescue me. After 3 gas stations and a Kroger we finally found a gas can and made it back. It was a serious comedy of errors. THANK YOU, KATEY!!!

Today we went to Maddie's school Christmas program. It was adorable! I will post some pictures as soon as I can get them loaded. Tonight is staff Christmas party. I would honestly rather curl up in my little bed and be a hermit, but festivities abound and I can already taste the ham, sweet potatoes, pineapple casserole, squash, and homemade yeast rolls. Yummmmmmm....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The show opened last night! It was a great night and we had a good, laughing crowd. I was feeling much better and had some energy back. Thanks for the prayers!!! Here's a shot of the set--all finished!

Another view of our set...Travis really did an amazing job as set designer! Thank you to all those who helped build over the last couple of weeks... ESPECIALLY Janelle Arnold and Ed Rucker!

Backstage in the Green Room, Eve helps Amanda be transformed into "Denise"

Pastor Oglethorp (aka: BST minus the nest of hair and facial hair!), and June (Laura Troup)

Steve, Laura, and Amanda pose on the pew in front of some of the band guys

TWO MORE SHOWS!!! Come see us tonight (Sat) or tomorrow night at 7pm!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Otter Creek music and drama ministry proudly presents…

“Sanders Family Christmas”

Friday, December 15th through Sunday, December 17th
7pm in the Otter Creek sanctuary
Admission is free.

The Otter Creek Drama ministry presents, “A Sanders Family Christmas (sequel to “Smoke on the Mountain)”! We’re bringing back the lovable and hilarious characters of the Sanders Family to warm your hearts and make you laugh. Come see those memorable characters like June Sanders… “She doesn’t sing…she SIGNS!” Relive the glorious music from the hills of North Carolina. Watch as the Sanders Family and Brother Oglethorp present their own very “special” rendition of “Christmas in Other Lands”. Listen as Mrs. Sanders talks about those bad elves who smoke and drink and put on lipstick. It’s a fun time for all!

The show runs December 15, 16, and 17th at 7pm each night in the Otter Creek sanctuary. Seating is first come first serve. There is no charge for admission but a collection will be taken for the “Living Water” ministry. Childcare provided for ages 2 and under.

The cast features Brandon Scott Thomas, Laura Troup, Amanda Vickers, Sonya Colvert, Steve Speake, Philip Henry and Johnathan Vest. They are backed by a group of professional musicians whose playing will delight the crowd!

Come join us for this hilarious, heart-warming Christmas musical full of 1940s charm.

409 Franklin Road . Brentwood, TN . 37027 . (615)373.1782 .

When you read this, will you pause for just a second and say a prayer for our family? Most of my family has been hit by a flu-like epidemic. Sheryl, Ella and Sam were up most of the night with it. We really all need health going into this weekend. Please pray that this passes soon and God gives healing and fast recovery!

On a happier note, we had a fantastic run-through last night. There were new moments, a new energy, and we had very few bobbles. I am hoping for a great run of this show over the weekend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"What a glorious night! The Savior of the world is born...and we're makin' him feel welcome."

Just a little Pastor Oglethorp there for ya (Sanders Family Christmas). Ol' Mervin. He's a right nutty little character. I've enjoyed playing him again. He's sort of a Don Knotts meets Robert Tilton. Now, THAT'S frightening.

Tonight we rehearse again with costumes, mics, and band. However, since it's Wednesday, we can't begin til Vespers ends. It will most likely be a late night. Mountain Dew anyone?

2 more days until the show opens! YEA! I have heard of a lot of folks coming in from out of town. That's exciting! We also have a couple of bus loads of people coming Friday night. I hope all of you within commuting distance of Brentwood can make it for the show one night this weekend. We'd love to have you!

As Mervin says at the close of the show...
"For the rest of y'all...we'll be seein' you bright and early in the morning! Now, don't forget to wear your good socks...we're havin' a FOOT WASHIN!"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dress rehearsals are going well. We were all struggling with energy last night but the show is in a good place! YEA!

And...thanks to my good neighbor, Matt Benge, my little trees and snow men are finally in their rightful Christmas place on the ledge over our front door. Tall, sturdy ladders are very good things.

I am exhausted today and I am really missing my family. We have the night off tonight to rest our voices and hit the road running for the show. I am excited about being home tonight, eating with my family, playing chase and getting to tuck in precious little ones!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yesterday we did a short preview at the end of services at Otter. It was fun. That afternoon we had our first rehearsal with the body pack mics and some of the band (guitar, banjo and mandolin...the fiddle and stand up bass players couldn't be there). It was a great but long rehearsal trying to get levels right. That room is so difficult in many ways. But, Phil and Steven were doing a bang up job on sound. Here are a few pics from yesterday...

JV and Amanda getting ready to sound check

two of the band guys play through Steve's song...Bob and Bennett.

running through music with the cast and band

After rehearsal, I took the girls to "Walk Through Bethlehem" at the Woodmont Christian Church. They've been doing this for 20+ years and it is just unbelievable. It's like walking into part of Epcot. They have transformed their gym into Bethlehem in every way-- straw and mulch on the ground, a real-live market place, people playing authentic period instruments, story tellers talking about the birth of a mysterious baby, woodworking, basket weaving, tent making, live animals, tons of Bethlehem residents dressed in full costume including soldiers, and of course, Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Our friend, Gary, invited us. It was so neat and the girls loved it! Here are some pictures...but pictures CANNOT capture what we saw.

This was the wine press...someone was actually stomping grapes.

A market place seller

A very nice, sleepy camel.

Maddie and Ella visit the manger and pose with the wise men. What a neat experience...mark it on your calendars for next year!

Family day today and dress rehearsal tonight!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Too many things transpired yesterday to truly characterize the day. Let's just leave it at was one of the longest, weirdest days I've had in a long time. We had the Otter Creek Family Christmas Breakfast with around 400 others in attendance, I had a major melt down over the car I was borrowing, and then spent around 9 hours working on the set up here with lots of other people. It ended up being a great day in many ways. We have made major progress on the set.

Here are some pics from our day...

Thomas family

I LOVE Santa pictures like this! We couldn't have planned it any better!

PROGRESS!!!! The stage is looking great thanks to so many awesome volunteers and cast members who put in looooooong hours yesterday!!