Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sheryl returned last night. The girls and I got in from church and she was there to greet them at the door. Maddie was so excited she was bouncing up and down in her car seat as we pulled onto our street. We were glad to see her!

This morning Maggie Woodard is having surgery (tubes in her ears). She's Maddie's age and her parents are long time Nashville friends. Maddie informed me this morning that they prayed for her in class last night. I asked her why and she told me she was going to the hospital this morning...because she has "tooths in her ears and it really hurts." I asked her what that meant and she said, "You, know...toooooths--they're growing out of her ears and that really hurts!" Bless.

It's a gorgeous day here. GORGEOUS! I hope you are feeling the impact of Spring wherever you are today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What fun we had last night sparring back and forth about Camp Ch-Yo-Ca. That was truly a surprise conversation. Great to find all you guys out there again. It's funny, most of my memories of Camp are from Camp Blue Haven in New Mexico where we went every summer except for the summer we went to Ch-Yo-Ca. However, what I DO remember about Ch-Yo-Ca are the people. That story about Daniel Garcia made me laugh hard. I remember that.

Sheryl returns tonight. In our house that's better than a new Star Wars movie. The girls have just done SO well. I can't get over how great they've been. They are really ready to see Mommy though. It's been since Saturday!

On Sunday Maddie went to Emma Ballard's birthday party. She kept telling me she was supposed to come dressed as a princess...riiiiiight. Well, turns out she was right. Thankfully, I had thrown a dress in the car just in case. Whew!

This is a picture I took from our front porch this morning. I walked out and it was such a beautiful day and the trees in our front yard were blooming. It gave me this Spring euphoria.

All things being new and getting revived in Spring is such a great thought. I am on that same road. I'm about to take some time to make that a focused journey, but already, I'm feeling the positive affects. Also, I've shared some about my journey to getting back in shape. As of this week I have lost 30 lbs! Some sweet soul yesterday told me that she didn't know I had 30 lbs to loose. Well, apparently I did. However, in the same afternoon, a young child at our church reminded me that I was indeed NOT skinny. Thanks for that. My secret has been eating half a peanut butter sandwich at lunch and going to a spin class at least twice a week. I also have enjoyed lifting with my buddy, Eric. So, here's to having to buy new pants! Yee-haww!

I hope you all have a great Wednesday. We begin rehearsals tonight for our special Easter Celebration. (we're taking it down a couple of notches this year in stress.) Sunday night, April 16th, we'll have the "choir" and the band and we'll rock out in the sanctuary. There are lots of great events that weekend. Friday night we'll be showing Mel's "The Passion of the Christ". Sunday morning, ZOE and Fauxy (LOVE that Philip Henry term) are leading worship and we have some great things planned. Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Here's a pic of the arena during worship last Friday in Tulsa. Max Lucado and Bob Russell spoke and it was fantastic. It was great to see Max and catch up a little bit. I love him--but almost love his family more. :)

Here's a picture that's closer up. I think this was taken Saturday morning when we led before Mike Cope.

My friend I mentioned yesterday, Arlene, sent me a picture from Camp all those years ago. I am pretty sure it was the summer of 1985 or 1986 (frightening!). I WILL NOT be posting that picture, Arlene. Are you KIDDING me??!! You can't even see my face for the braces. UGH! (thanks, Arlene--what a blast from the past!)

Sheryl is still at the beach! Mr. Mom time is going well. Just ready for them to be back. We had fun yesterday at my mom's and then I took the girls to see The Shaggy Dog. It was cute.

Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tulsa was amazing. I have many stories. Many. I will post some pictures and tell more about the event itself on Tuesday. The event was fantastic and Max and Bob were incredible...not to mention Mike on Sat morning. Working with Mike is like driving an old familiar road back to the home where you grew up. It just feels right.

Now for the other stories...

First of all, we had a hilarious "international themed" trip out. I can't even go there. But it was hilarious, complete with the completely terrifying flight attendant on the commuter jet. The man was of international flavor and never blinked. He had these wild eyes that just made you want to take a parachute and jump for it. Jason does a great impression.

Then there was the shower at the hotel. I couldn't figure out why the conditioner was so dense when I was showering and why it wouldn't seem to rinse out. Finally, as I was trying to fix my hair and it looked like that episode of Seinfeld where they all had flat hair due to the lack of water pressure I decided to check the conditioner bottle. Turned out to be body lotion. Brilliant.

Our driver got lost driving us to the fair grounds and so our sound check was really late and to a house full of people (nearly 6000). For the love.

The opening 30 minute worship time was ok--but just felt a little off for some reason. I wish we had had more time to settle. But, once the 7pm hour hit and we went into the Max Lucado/Bob Russell time, it seemed to come together a little more. Max and Bob absolutely hit it out of the park. It was a historical night and I am SO thankful I got to be there.

The Saturday morning time with Mike was, as I mentioned, so wonderful and so familiar. I love getting to work with him and am so thankful for my brother.

After the Saturday morning time, we crashed Greg Taylor's family reunion luncheon. I was walking with my plate towards the table when a woman asked me if my name was Brandon. I knew immediately when I looked at her who she was. Arlene and I had gone to camp together a couple of summers and then one or two retreats. She and Holly Sanders were some of my big buds in high school. Arlene's claim to fame was that she went to her prom with Matthew Conaughey. No lie. Anyway--I hadn't seen her in almost 20 years. We lost contact after she went to Harding and I went to ACU. It was the CRAZIEST moment! So surreal. How can we be this old? Her husband, Shawn, was the nicest guy. I felt like I had known him for years too. They have 4 beautiful children. What a blessing!

We flew home and on our layover in Memphis we got to watch the very sad defeat of TX by LSU. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

On the last leg of our flight, I was seated next to two returning Spring-Breaking high school seniors. Ugh. Here's a conversation that took place next to me.

HS girl 1: I wanna know how the pilot, like, knows where he's going when it's dark or when he's above the clouds and can't, like, see the ground.

HS girl 2: I think he, like, uses a compass or something.

Brandon: (inward groan wishing for a number of people...namely Stephen be sitting next to me witnessing this.)

We made it home safely and Sheryl had already left for her beach vacation. I have the girls til Wed and she took Sam. Mr. Mom is my name.

This morning was so amazing. Doug did great, Sonya's monologue as the woman at the well was fantastic, Angela shared perfectly and from her heart about her recovery from drugs and alcohol, and the response time with the shepherd's and wives was moving. It was a great day to be at the Creek.

This afternoon I took Maddie to a birthday party and Lea Brown took Ella to play. (Ella and Lea are birds of a feather and they adore each other.) The girls collapsed into bed and I haven't heard a peep from them. Ahhhhhhh. Rest for all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Didn't mean to dis on ol' Paula yesterday. I mean, please--we've all got our stuff. How would you like it if all your stuff was in all the magazines and E real life specials? I wouldn't.

So, Sunday. I literally checked every single--EVERY SINGLE--media shout slide except one. just happened to be the squirrely one. We sang "Have Thine Own Way" and somehow a verse from CCLI ended up as the 3rd verse and I had never heard it before in my life. It's not the standard third verse we all know. Well, something happened with formatting (our screens are 16x9--huge--and we have to compensate for it in media shout because the ratios are all screwed up). The last 2 lines of that verse didn't make it to the screen. About half way through this unfamiliar verse the praise team, the church, and I all realized there weren't enough words to finish out the song. What to do? I can honestly say this was a first for me. I could not seem to stop that train. So, I just made up words at the end. I wish I could've had a video of everyone's faces as we realized the lyrics were off and our eyes bugged. What's even funnier...the church sort of went with it. They all mumbled right along with me. Somehow I even managed to make it rhyme. For the love. It was one of those awesomely embarrassing moments!

Sunday we've got a great line up. Sonya Colvert is beginning the morning with a monologue as the Woman at the Well. We've got a wonderful woman sharing who was initially a benevolence call who Doug connected with a woman member here and who is now in recovery. We've got the Igniter DVD, "Lonely People" ready and some other good things. For those of you in worship ministry, if you don't have the entire Igniter DVD series, you are really, really missing out. Last week we used "The Gospel According to Blaine" and people loved it! It's going to be a great Sunday.

But, before that even comes, I Tulsa. I think I'm ready. It's a full weekend. God bless and keep you all.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm having one of those days. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. It's not soon to be over either. Lots of deadlines left today, new Drama Team meeting at 5:30 and then Creative Team meeting at 6:30, church at 7 and tech cue to cue run-through for Sunday at 8:30. In heaven there will be no Wednesdays. It is the longest day of the week.

My good friend Debbie called last night from England. Thanks, Debbie! Debbie taught me piano at an early age and has been a cheerleader and supporter for years. I appreciated your call and encouragement.

I loved me some American Idol last night. betta SANG! Oh my goodness. There were some great performances last night. But how about Paula Abdul? Was she quite right? I think she might have gotten in the squirrel juice before the show. Bless.

Busyness is becoming something that really breeds bitterness in me. It's a weird paradox because I usually thrive on it. But, right now, I think it's good to be feeling the way I am. It's definitely time for a change in my relationship with busyness.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I've been having some issues with blogger sorry to not post these sooner. The African Children's Choir was here last Friday and just blew us all away! This picture makes me laugh. Maddie and Ella look absolutely terrified. I think it was more like star struck...but bless their hearts!

The concert was fantastic! We had a good crowd and I think everyone really enjoyed it felt the kids' joy fill the room.

I was able to spend some time with them Friday during the day. They are precious! And...their boldness for the Lord is contagious. We laughed and played over dinner and then I got to be with them during their devotional. They love to worship! These 7-10 year olds were spontaneously leading each other in worship--and not the Blue Skies and Rainbows type of thing. They were raising their hands, praying spontaneously, and really singing before the Lord with all their being! It was convicting.

It was really such a wonderful night! I'm busily trying to prepare for Tulsa this weekend. It will be a fantastic night. Max Lucado and Bob Russell will share the pulpit that night in front of nearly 10,000 people. It's going to be cool to lead all of them in worship. Please pray for us as we prepare.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, March 17, 2006

The world renowned African Children’s Choir will be performing at Otter Creek Church tonight, March 17th, at 7pm.

Doors will open at 6:30 and admission is free!

The choir is comprised of 25 African children ages 7-11. Each child in the choir has lost one or both parents to poverty or AIDS. The concert includes well-loved children’s songs, popular gospel tunes and lively spirituals. Through their songs and dances, the choir brings Africa alive, in all its color and splendor creating a truly unforgettable musical experience.

A free-will offering will be taken at the performance to support African Children’s Choir education, care and emergency relief programs.

The African Children’s Choir remains committed to helping Africa’s most vulnerable children so they can help Africa tomorrow.

Please help us spread the word and bring your friends and neighbors. It will be a night you won’t forget! If you're in Nashville or the surrounding areas, we hope to see you tonight!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Today we went to Maddie and Ella's Spring program over at the old Otter Creek building (the school is still there--until next fall). The kids were adorable as always. It was fun watching their faces! I can't believe how big they're all getting. We've watched the kids in Maddie's class go from babies to big pre-K kids. My goodness. I'm posting some pictures of the program for you--

Maddie boogies on stage.

Maddie's class dressed as lambs...all in white with black socks. Too cute! Don't you love the boy with his hands over his ears? Hilarious! Maddie is NOT tone deaf!

Here's the entire group

Ella has a blast on stage!

Ella really sells it!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sunday was great! The baby blessing that night was neat too. I am slowly getting used to the new space. It's so cool.

I am working this week on the African Children's Choir concert that will be here on Friday night. If you've never seen them, you've missed out! They are amazing. If you're even remotely close to Nashville, please try and join us. The concert is at 7pm Friday night here at Otter Creek.

I am also working towards a sabbatical of sorts. More on that later. Thanks for your continued prayers. God is good.

Sam looks so cute waiting for the baby blessing night.

Sam and me before the baby blessing.

Maddie and Ella at the baby blessing

Sheryl and Sam at the baby blessing

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I returned last night from Chicago where I spent a couple of days at Willow Creek. Thanks to Jeff Berryman, who apparently is THE man to know, I got to see and be a part of a lot of neat things. I got to sit in on some "pre-production" meetings, visit with the head of their drama dept (Steve) and take a guided tour of the facility with Steve. It's amazing. They have 18,000 people each weekend. Goodness. It's overwhelming. Their sanctuary seats 7000.

The meeting was truly fascinating. There is a team of people who rotate taking the creative lead for two months...they are all on staff. At this meeting, they were trying to figure out how to "fly" the Ferris wheel seat they were using for a drama this weekend. Just the sheer technical requirements for such a place are overwhelming.

It was a good morning at OC today. I'm loving being in the new sanctuary. Tonight is Baby Blessing. Sam will be one of the millions of babies up there. He looks cute in his outfit.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I wish I really had the time to post like I want to. I'll just have to settle for some bullet points from events over the last few days...

*Sunday was incredible--it couldn't have gone better. It was an emotional day of celebration for our entire Otter Creek Family. We had almost a packed house! Everything went very well. I cannot believe we are here. Seriously.

*Life Group was good Sunday night. More and more that's becoming real church for me. I love those people and love the community we share together.

*Sheryl wasn't feeling well and went to bed early Sunday night. Maddie, Ella and I sat up and watched parts of the Oscars. They got to see Dolly Parton sing. When she began, Maddie started giggling. Then Ella started giggling. I asked Maddie what was funny and she said, "She's kinda funny looking." I laughed and agreed. Then Maddie said, "Is she a clown?" That could be my favorite quote of the night. Nothing Jon Stewart said was even remotely as funny. Having said that...she should have won the Oscar. At least Crash came from behind to capture the Best Picture. Great movie!

*I am trying to get 10 days worth of work done in 2. The work load for planning and executing this Sunday morning thing has quadrupled. It's necessary, but parts of it are troublesome to me. I just don't want to lose sight of the other stuff in ministry that has always been important--especially when it comes to people time.

Hope you all have a great week! God is good, I know that for sure!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Our rehearsals went well yesterday. Today will be a great day. It's hard to believe we'll all be together in the sanctuary.

I pray that you have a wonderful day and week of worship.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Progress is being made!

It's been such a crazy week--trying to prepare for Sunday and tie up all the loose ends. It's exciting to see things starting to come together one minute and then the next minute you feel like it will NOT happen. HA! Makes for an exciting week. Where's the Advil?

I really appreciate the concern so many of you are showing me as I travel these roads. Please know that I am really ok. Ultimately, I will be GREAT! I will not allow myself to crash and burn. I am taking steps towards rest and have already released some pretty HUGE things on my plate. It's funny--my nature wants to put my claws back in it, but I know I must stop and rest. I really feel peace about that.

So...Media Shout. Good grief. Could someone make this program easier, please? We are in the process of having to build our library with all the songs and other things. It's not as easy to build as power point. But--I think it will be worth it. I think.

Meanwhile, the sanctuary is NOT ready today. I know it will be, but it's stressing me out to even walk in there. I know Ben Mankin is THE MAN and it will all be completed. But--bless him, I know he has to be a tad stressed too.

Tomorrow we're having a run-through with lights, sound and everything else. We have a cool dramatic reading Sunday thanks to Jeff Berryman who wrote it for me. Jeff used to be a prof at ACU while I was there. Now he's in Seattle doing theater, but also writes scripts for Willow Creek's drama ministry. Thanks, Jeff!!

Here are some pictures of the sanctuary as of 9am this morning. :)

This is a view of the sanctuary from the side door.

Here you can see some of the stage and the construction workers trying to get finished.

This is looking from the back--pews moved and lots of cool machinery. I may be leading worship from a cherry-picker this Sunday.

Somehow it always gets done---but even if it doesn't, God will still be here and we will worship!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thank you to those of you who have called or emailed me in response to recent blog entries. I have probably sounded cryptic, jaded, or even just face down. Truth is, some days have really been like that. The thing that really keeps me going is my sincere belief that the spiritual life is a journey. The destination is becoming like Jesus and so we know that we will never lose our humanity or imperfections until we get Home. If you're in a valley right now, the good news is it won't last forever. If you're on a mountain top right now, the same holds true. Life is a journey. There are valleys and peaks, but it's more about how we walk through them and how we choose to camp.

I firmly believe there are things that God is trying to teach me through this. I just need to have the energy to hear Him. Sometimes I believe that even when we don't have the energy to listen, He implants things in our hearts where we can understand them. And then...sometimes you just have to climb off the safari truck that's going 100mph and rest for a while. This is where I am and what I'm considering.

Thanksgiving 1999...Kiki, Lindsey, Sheryl and I set off from Nashville around 7pm heading towards Arkansas. We stopped to get Wendy's and then we laughed and talked for about an hour and a half. At that point it was time to turn off on a smaller road that would carry us the next 3-4 hours across rural Tennessee, Missouri and into northern Arkansas. It had been a long day for everyone--tying up loose ends and trying to get out of town. But, I like driving. I like being in control. :) As we cruised down the highway everyone settled in and it seemed almost in one split second everyone was asleep--almost like narcolepsy! I remember blinking really hard to try and stay awake. The next thing I knew Sheryl was screaming and we were heading off the side of the road. I tried to get control but over compensated and we began to spin on the highway. We took out a road sign and began careening down the embankment toward a fence. We hit this very dense, square pole and the air bags went off. I was in shock, my hand was burning from the airbags. Lindsey who was sitting in the back seat without a seat belt had hit the back of the drivers seat so hard that her front teeth cut through the leather and her teeth we shoved back up into the roof of her mouth. There was blood everywhere. Everyone else was uninjured, thankfully, although extremely shaken. A man who had been driving behind us and saw everything unfold had already called 911. Soon we heard the ambulance. They took Lindsey to the hospital and a VERY gracious man gave up his night before Thanksgiving to come in and perform oral surgery. It was one AWFUL night.

For years after that night as we've traveled back and forth I always get a chill when we come upon that place in the road. I think about how grateful I am that everyone is ok now. I think about the car that was totaled. I think about how completely horrible I felt. I remember trying to go to sleep for days after that and every time I'd start to drift off I'd wake up with a start...remembering what happened when I went to sleep in the car.

Sometimes I think life is like that. We get tired or exhausted and continue on at break-neck speed, expecting to make it through. God created Sabbath for a reason. I have tried to honor that, but don't do a great job. The moral to the car story is...sometimes when you're tired, you must rest. If you don't you could get hurt or even hurt others! Rest is so important. Quieting our hearts is critical. Refueling is essential to the Christian walk--and even more so in ministry.

That's where I am. I'm talking with friends, mentors, and counselors about how best to approach it, but I have become fully aware of my need to not just stop for a bathroom break--but to stop and maybe set up camp for a few weeks. I'm really thankful for the men and women in my life who are speaking words of truth to me and words of encouragement. I am one blessed dude.

I see this time as really important and know that I am learning things--whether seen or not--that will change me for the better along the journey. AND--I am grateful for men like Scott, Steve, Bill, Tim, Stephen, Craig, Chris, Kyle, Jeff, and others who are walking with me. God is good!