Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I've started this blog entry several times today. Each time concluded with delete all. Not much to say except that things here are incredibly busy as we look to our grand opening weekend and our very first Sunday in the sanctuary. I'm feeling the stress of the tech sheets that need filling out, lighting cues that need work, the projectors and screens that aren't even functioning yet, the drum kit for Sunday morning (just seeing if you're really paying attention), and the rehearsals that need to happen between now and then. It's a busy week. And that's pretty much all I can say.

Life Group was good Sunday night. We had some very difficult discussions. But it made me so grateful that I have community with those people. You know...when it comes to hurting people, or those we like to put in the "sinner" box, it's a lot easier to categorize them or formulate policies about them unless you've really been there. I have firm beliefs. I have black and white opinions...although the longer I live, I find are being molded into the big ones instead of the little ones. But, when you see how hurtful some churches or Christians can be to people who are already hurting, it makes things so much more complicated to me. I feel like the church, in general (meaning most churches out there), is good about reacting...but not as great at prevention. I long for the day when instead of formulating policies about what the "offenders" have to do to make things right and coming up with a list of hoops to jump through, we spend our energy teaching the CHURCH what to do in those situations and how to love people through hard times. Seems like an ounce of prevention and love is worth a...well, you know.

Just some thoughts today.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It was a good morning at the Creek. I think any time Christians can talk about brokenness and vulnerability...it's always good. The world sees us as the opposite. And, we've done a lot to help them see us that way.

One cool thing I forgot to mention about the ACU lectures...they used it as a time for reconciliation with the Christian Churches. 100 years ago this year was the first time we were listed as separate on the census. There were brothers from the Christian Church on the schedule and each night someone participated in the main lecture in some way. Kudos to ACU for that.

Next month ZOE will lead worship in Oklahoma on Friday night the 24th when Max Lucado and Bob Russell will address a crowd of many thousands of people. It will also be a historic night. I am excited to be a part of that. I love history and it's even more fun having a front row seat to history in the making.

I'm still working through my own valley time. Sheryl and I had a good date night last night and talking with her helped. I continue to covet your prayers.

Meanwhile, on the health front, I've been doing better. I haven't wanted to mention it because I didn't want to jinx myself!! But, as of yesterday I've lost about 25lbs since October. Also, my work out partner has been a huge blessing. Eric Wyse (hey, Eric!!) and I have been trying to keep each others' feet to the fire. Eric is a fellow worship leader and a song writer/producer/arranger/everything else in the world kinda guy. He and his wife wrote "Wonderful Merciful Savior" which many of our churches sing regularly. He's a good friend and encourager.

Tonight's life group. Community is good. I pray tonight goes well.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Much of the week was spent in a fog. I was still so tired from the trip out there that it was hard to recover. Sam wasn't sleeping well at night and all the activity had me using every brain cell I had and I needed more! I even called my blogging buddy, Katherine, JEN all week. For the love! Sorry, Katherine.

Last night we all enjoyed being in our beds. It was fun watching the Olympics. I find that it's almost torture though--do you? I get so anxious for them. It kills me when the skaters fall. I loved watching the skiing though. That was UNREAL!! WOW!

Anyone out there have a good drama piece or reading on courage or new beginnings?

Here are a couple more pictures for you from the week.

It was so great getting to spend some time with Stephen. Here's a picture of Sam cracking up with him.

Had to stop by Sam Thomas Elementary and snap a pic. I wish I been able to get a picture of Sam in front of the school bearing his grandfather's name.

On Wednesday we had fajitas at the Cope's house. Mike was such a gracious host. Thanks, man! He took time to read books to Ella and Lainey (Eric's daughter). So sweet!

I neglected to write a week or so ago about our awesome Sunday lunch with Brandon and Jana Young (B Young!!). They have been at Otter for a couple of years and we've been doing the whole... "Hey, we need to get together..." thing that entire time. FINALLY! You won't find a more authentic, compassionate, understanding duo out there. Their son, Rowan, is adorable too. I'm so glad they're at Otter and I hope we have more time together in the future.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Think about me tomorrow when I'll be enduring Media Shout training.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

WHEW!!!! We're home! No--I didn't have access to a computer while we were there. I barely had access to my brain.

Our trip began in complete chaos. We got to the airport at 5am last Saturday and it was mass hysteria. Snow, ice, flights delayed and automatically re-booked with kids on different flights, etc. Somehow, by an act of God, we all made it on the 6:10 flight. After hours sitting on runways in Nashville and Dallas while de-icing, we made it to Abilene around 4pm or so. UGH!

Sing Song was incredible--one of the best Sing Song shows I've seen in a long time. But it will forever go down as a night of scandal. Let's just put it this way--the judges results got screwed up and wrong results were announced. But--they came back and righted it and all's well that ends well. They had the ex Sing Song hosts come on stage at the end since it was the 50th year. After the show some of us got together for photo ops. Pictured left to right are: Cindy Mullican, John Scott Davis, Sharon Hickey, Denalyn Lucado (Max's wife), BST and Martha Kate Stallings Gunn. MK and I were hosts together. Her dad is Gene Stallings, former coach of the Alabama football team.

The week was great. We had such a great time with the Lorenzes and got to see Brooke and Brady more than we have in recent visits. (Brooke is pictured here. She's been a little sister to me our entire lives.)It was so fun singing with old friends like Kellie Curtis Miller, Stephen Bailey and John Scott Davis. Craig Fisher even drove in for a night and we got to hang out and share some deep stuff.

It is always crazy traveling with kids, but everyone did a great job. I wish I could have seen more old friends and done more "Abilene" activities, but overall it was a wonderful trip.

I got to see Russell Heil. It was so great to get to hug him and look him in the eye. Oh my goodness, those girls are beautiful! We're still praying for them and will continue for a long time.

Here's a pic of the Zoe's! We had a great time together!

Now, back in my office, glad to be home in Nashville and ready to tackle some new things. I think I needed to get away for a few days and clear my head. Stephen and Craig were a tremendous help in that too. (Missed you, Chris!) I'll be more on schedule with blogging now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

We leave in the morning...4:30am...for the airport. Brutal! Whew! We're heading to Abilene. Tomorrow night I'll be judging Sing Song and will hopefully get to see some old friends. Then the ZOE festivities begin Sunday morning when we lead worship at Highland. Sunday night the ACU Lectures begin and we'll be leading each night through Wednesday.

I might not be able to blog much next week. Pray for us as we go out there. We're looking forward to it!

One thing I hate to miss...Sunday morning the entire Shaub family will be leading the communion thoughts. It's the one year anniversary of Jonathan's accident. David, Sharon, Nicole, Jonathan and Megan will be sharing. I hate to miss that!!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay warm!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Last night at Vespers (our Wednesday evening service) the theme was The Journey. Our rehearsal ended early and I was able to go, unexpectedly. I sat in the back with T.J. and Holly and Lauren Gingles. I could not believe the amount of emotion the service brought out in me. I always love the dim lighting, the soft music, the ancient prayers and writings of people like Thomas Merton. I loved the stations--one was a reflection on the journey up to now and an exercise in thanksgiving. At another you were to look ahead 10-20 years and pick one fruit of the Spirit you wanted to be most evident in your life. And the other was a table that was a literal feast of fruits, nuts, and other delicious things representing the table that God spreads before us along the journey. After the station time, T.J. played guitar and led some old hymns. I couldn't move. I sat still while tears flowed. He's one of my all time favorite singers/worship leaders, but the presence of God in that room was so heavy.

I am struggling mightily. My tendency is to micro-manage what others think about me and always position myself in a positive light. (isn't that called pride?) I have just decided to let it be what it is. Times of struggle are exactly that.

Last night we were led in prayer. It was a prayer written by Thomas Merton. It hit me squarely between the eyes. I hope it blesses you today.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain
where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. BUT, I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We were driving down the street the other day and Maddie exclaimed from the back seat, "Daddy, when you and Mommy got married I was already in Mommy's tummy!" Uh, no! I wonder who else she's said that to. Just for the record--marriage 1998, Maddie 2001. That would be one LONG gestation period.

This morning I was talking on the phone to someone very dear to me and went into auto-pilot. I looked up and I was turning in the parking lot of the OLD Otter Creek building. Nice.

We went out for steaks last night with Ryan and Sarah Williamson. Old friendships are so sweet. The steak wasn't my favorite, but the company sure was good!

I am working on plans for Abilene next week. I'm excited to see old friends and be home for a few days. Since JV can't come, John Scott Davis is singing bass with us. John Scott (affectionately known as John Scott Fred) and I sang in a group together in college. I first met him doing Summerstage in 1987. I was a "Junior Scholar" and taking college courses before my senior year in high school. So, I got to be in a show--something I'd long dreamed about after watching it every summer. John Scott was like a big brother to me. He adopted me and later that year when he was a Sing Song host I got to stand back stage and help. For a senior in high school this was BIG STUFF.

It's funny to think back on those days. There were so many friendships forged that have lasted all this time. I'm excited about him singing with us. AND--Since Jason has to leave on Tuesday, my partner in crime, Stephen Bailey, is coming to sing in his place. Stephen, John Scott, and I were all in that traveling group together (and of course, Stephen was also my long time roommate and still my best bud). We had a blast! I remember one night that summer of traveling(1989)--we sang at a camp and then got back in the van to leave. A girl had given us a "love note". In it she described why she thought we were cool. She called me the "funniest", John Scott the "cutest", and Stephen the "longest". HA! Well, I'm pretty sure she meant to say tallest...but you can imagine the mileage we got out of that one. Well, at least if I can't be tall or cute...I can be funny.

Our team for Abilene looks like this:
Melissa Kirby
Amanda (McKinney) Vickers--we're so excited that Amanda's coming!!
Lindsey Morgan (Pepperdine student who sang with us in Fresno and also dates our boy, Pete!)
Jason McArthur/ Stephen Bailey
David England
Peter Wilson
John Scott Davis

It'll be fun! If any of you out there reading can come--please come to our late night on Monday!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Yesterday morning was so amazing. I could NOT believe how many people were there. It was the weirdest thing to combine all the people from different services--all sitting together. We actually ran out of room. That place was PACKED!

Thanks for your prayers. Please continue them. This week will be full with preparations for Abilene. The entire family flies with ZOE this Saturday and we'll be leading worship at the ACU lectures and at Highland Sunday morning.

Have a great week!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Do you ever have days, weeks...where you want to just disappear? I can always tell when I'm overloaded. I want to quit everything. Everything. I know that's not my most rational side talking--but on those days it's how I honestly feel.

I haven't seen my family much this week. I don't feel a whole lot like leading worship. Just in sort of a funk today. It will pass, I'm sure. I just want you guys to know out there there ministers have these types of days too.

Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Let me just first state---for the record---I miss Doug Sanders. It's lonesome having this big office to myself. Wait...music's playing, I'm getting things done, I can concentrate without constant attacks of ADD...maybe this IS good.

Question...any of you out there have kids with summer birthdays? What did you do with them regarding Kindergarten?

Did you see on the news the latest Baptist church who went to picket and spew hatred on gay people? When I see things like that it makes me want to puke. Yeah--let's see, Jesus did show up with a picket sign to the stoning of the woman caught in adultery. Didn't he? Oh--and then there were the times when he went to the houses of tax collectors and picketed them and yelled hateful statements at them. Oh--and we can't forget the time he found the man so possessed by demons that his NAME was Legion. I'm sure he had a picket sign for that too. Wait...am I wrong?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This morning I arrived at my NEW office. It was SO weird. It was so quiet. Doug wasn't already meeting with someone in our office...in fact, I'm not even sharing an office anymore. I'm back to having my own office again. It was quiet. Sometimes too quiet. So...Michael Buble helped ease the quiet. Then the chaos began.

Staff meeting was like a bunch of deer looking into the headlights of 1000 oncoming cars. We were sitting in a conference room around tables and the first feeling I had was one of sheer excitement. I literally wanted to jump up on the tables and just run around the room. I cannot believe this has happened to us! Hallelujah! Then Doug brought us back to reality.

There are so many things that are changing---ministry will be completely different in this new place. And...that's not a bad thing. We have this amazing opportunity to press the re-start button. We are all being challenged with what that means for each of us.

This afternoon it seemed as soon as I hung up with one person, someone else was coming in my office trying to teach me how to use the new phone system or needing to talk about something. The busyness of the day wasn't really all that bad. It helped us feel like we were all still together. And...now I'm getting lots of exercise walking to the ends of the earth to find the other ministers in their temporary offices. Mine is in the "green room" behind the stage where we will also have rehearsals. It's a nice, coveted spot. Meanwhile, Tim got the lovely lilac room behind the sound booth. Eat your heart out, baby.

Sunday we have one...count 'em...ONE service. I can't even tell you how exciting that is. We're going to be in limbo for a few weeks meeting in the family life center until we can move into the sanctuary. (There's some construction)


I didn't get to say this last week because I think I was in total denial but the Cox Family has left us. They've gone to Alabama. Clarissa will still arrange for us and she and Rob and their kids will always be a part of our family, but it stinks that it will have to be from a distance. We miss you guys! God bless you in your new home!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Not much time to blog this morning--just a quick note to say that yesterday was such a special day. So many old friends back, so many great memories made. It was a wonderful day. Thank you to Phil, Tim, ZOE, all the readers and everyone who helped make the day a success.

Today is a day of rest!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A couple of things to mention tonight...

First, I didn't get to blog about my exciting lunch with my friend in the publishing business, Stuart. His company publishes Len Sweet. He took me to lunch, encouraged me in my writing, and even brought me a jar of Le Madeline's tomato basil soup--a true friend. We're trying to be creative about a writing project. He's a great encourager. Thank you, Stu!!

Second, we got to take the girls and Sam to see the Dora the Explorer stage show at TPAC this afternoon thanks to Geof and Amanda Vickers. It was so much fun! Dora looked EXACTLY like Shelli Meador--it was weird. The show was great and all the kids in the audience were very involved. Thank you, Geof and Amanda!!

Thirdly, the move this morning went so well. We had hundreds of people show up to help and we were completely moved out of the Granny White property by noon. Amazing. It was so weird to see that place so empty. The only things left were equipment, etc to get us through the service tomorrow morning. It was fun to see all the hustle-bustle at the new building and really live in that space for a day.

And, finally, Paul, Jill, Mack, and Champ Young are here visiting. They came in for the final day at the old building tomorrow. They are dear, dear friends who LEFT US and moved to Atlanta last fall. But I'm not bitter. No way. But seriously, it's been like putting on that favorite bath robe---being with them is so comfortable and wonderful. It makes me realize even more how much I miss them. They are staying with us tonight and we had so much fun staying up laughing.

Tomorrow's the big day. I'm excited and a bit nervous. I know it will be an important day and I don't want to forget anything!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Oh my goodness. What a week! I have had Fresno revisited...with a vengeance. Some stomach flu hit me hard this week and I've been down. I haven't been that sick in years. Of course it would have to be THIS week.

I am writing from the balcony of the old Otter Creek building. Since our offices moved yesterday and the server isn't up yet, the only way I can prepare things for Sunday is from up here at the old building. It's sort of surreal sitting up here. All the hymnals and Bibles are packed so the pews are very empty looking. There's no more hustle-bustle in the halls. Everyone's over at 409 Franklin Road setting up their temporary offices (the office wing is under construction). It's quiet. Quiet enough to think and remember.

I remember a night in 1998 when I tricked Sheryl into coming to the building to help me "set up for Sunday". She walked in and there were candles everywhere. We got engaged that night. (we also drank wine in the sanctuary--and it WASN'T grape juice!)

I remember a day later that year in August when friends and family gathered and we were married here. I remember almost word for word what Mike Cope said that day. I remember Stephen holding me up at one point. I remember Kirk Nofsinger and Jeff Berry singing so beautifully. I remember John Catchings playing the cello with such grace. And then I remember Sheryl walking down that aisle. Beautiful!

I remember the first day each of our 3 kids came to worship here. Precious memories--all of them.

Now I'm sitting typing in scriptures for the last Otter Creek service at this building. It's a sobering thought. We really ARE but a blade of grass--here today and gone tomorrow. The sovereign Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.

Sunday will no doubt be an emotional day. Thanks for your prayers. I hope it will be both a day of remembering AND celebration.