Friday, June 30, 2006

First things first...go now to Craig's Blog to further enjoy yesterday's you, Stephen!

Last night I had a most enjoyable visit with Phillip Duncan. Sheryl was out on a girls' night and the kids were asleep. Phillip's wife and son are in Alabama at his parents' house so he came over and we laughed for a couple of hours. I was hoarse this morning. I'm grateful that they are back at Otter.

We are planning to go to Smyrna to the fireworks show tomorrow night. It's a great event and a lot less of a headache than the downtown Nashville show if anyone's interested. (Although, there's no Nashville Symphony)

One last thing...a garden story for you...

My dad was always big into gardening. We grew asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, onions, peaches, plums, green beans, even corn at one point. Sheryl's dad is a gardener too. It's no wonder that we both have some degree of it in our blood. However, this is really the first year that we've tried growing anything seriously. We have some huge tomato bushes that are heavy with green tomatoes...I can't wait!! (The first one to ripen was promptly eaten by our dog Bear...a real test in my adoration of her.)

As I planted annuals this year, I kept trying to remember where I had planted bulbs last year. I finally gave up. Since I tend to have a real green thumb at growing weeds, I also found it hard to discern what was weed and what was flower. This one weed looking thing came up and I could not for the life of me decide what it was. I was convinced it was a weed...but decided to wait just in case. It grew, and grew and had a strange stalk. It kept looking like it was going to flower and then it would just turn into another leaf or more stalk. Weird. I just decided to wait and see. Finally, 2 weeks ago a thing resembling a bud of a flower appeared. Here's what the "weed" looked like early this morning...

Sorry if this seems like a cheesy spiritual analogy, but it struck me that sometimes life is like my garden. Sometimes we wait and wait and wait for fruit from a bush we know will bear it and it gets squashed or eaten before it can be used. And...other times people who seem to be "weeds" or rough on the outside end up bringing the most beauty to our garden. It's a good lesson for me to remember.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thanks for the cool discussion over the last few days in the comment section. Again..let me reiterate, agreeing with me is not required for you to be welcome here.

And now for something completely different. I warned you, Stephen. My long time brother and best buddy, Stephen Bailey (call him Steve. He loves that), sent me this earlier this week. Joel Quile had made posters and put them all over his office.

Absolutely priceless.

OK--three things. First, last night on the way home I had all three since Sheryl had a rehearsal. We stopped at McDonald's for an easy dollar menu snack. The girls were arguing over whether they could get the happy meal...after hearing from me that we were absolutely NOT getting the happy meal. Maddie could not let it go. She kept telling Ella that she could NOT have the happy meal. Ella finally replied to her, "You are NOT the boss of me, Miss Maddie." I about choked. Seriously. It's not funny. But it is.

Second thing...I'm really enjoying the new Won By One CD. If any of you have a chance to pick it up, you'll be glad you did.

Lastly, our FX Worship experience last night was awesome. (Family worship) The kids were adorable. Audra Crisler could not have been any cuter. Kudos to Melanie for a great night of worship!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

OK--sorry to stir the pot...But I need to say a couple of things out loud.

The combo of Christians and Nationalism nauseates me. I am thankful for America. I'm grateful for the freedom we have here. I'm thankful for and pray for our leaders. But...I can't stand how many evangelical Christians use Jesus in politics.

Now, the irony in this is that I am a Christian and I am about to use Jesus to talk about my ways of thinking. I find that there's a growing tension in me regarding many in our country who show hatred towards other nations and sing songs like "God Bless America" with an attitude that almost suggests America is the only country God loves.

Tim had some great things to say Sunday about courage and the ways we see Jesus showing courage. He could have spent his time speaking out against the Godless Roman government and authorities. He could have made it his mission to challenge their authority. But it appears he was more concerned with the religious leaders and the way they were oppressing people and turning the love of God into regulations and laws.

I remember a Sunday when we went through a worship period at church where people were marginally engaged until someone had the veterans stand. There was a standing ovation. I know, I know. I'm on thin ice here. And, I am not saying, by any stretch of the imagination, that those men and women don't deserve respect. However, doesn't anyone else find it strange that we can become so swept up in emotion over a soldier and can't muster even an "amen" for what God means to us?

I know the 4th of July is coming. I know it's a fun celebration. But, I would love for Christians especially to be leading the way in preaching and living out love for our "enemies". What would that look like? What would the world say about Christians then? What if we tried love at all costs? Ridiculous? Yep. But, what if Jesus had chosen to treat us as we deserved as enemies to his holiness?

Monday, June 26, 2006

We had a good weekend. The Won by One students from Pepperdine came in Saturday and we had some fun times together over the weekend. It was awesome to see Lindsey. She's family. We're praying for continued safe travels for all of them. Here's a picture from last night...minus Kelly. (The guys wanted to come jump on the trampoline. John was quite the acrobat!)

They also were on praise team with me Sunday morning. It was a great day!

Writing today with TJ and Eric Wyse. I'm looking forward to that. The girls have day camp at Miss Betsy's. I know they'll have a blast.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Congratulations to Jacinda for winning the book package yesterday! (honorable mention goes out to Eric Ebeling for his descriptive and imaginative email describing Seedling's issues. I'm still laughing!)

So, did anyone watch America's Got "Talent" last night? (Sheryl had a rehearsal for ZOE stuff so I watched the kids.) There are so many things to comment on. First of all...David Hasselhoff telling people whether they have talent? For the love. But who am I to cast stones? They certainly aren't asking my opinion and Hasselhoff is driving "Kit" to the bank every day to drop off his check. But, puh-lease. I honestly enjoyed the 70 yr old harpist/opera singer. That was something.

So, in keeping with the paragraph above, I had a most randomly hilarious moment at my favorite bookstore yesterday (I'll try and keep this vague so as to protect this person's identity should she be surfing the web). I had a meeting in the cafe/coffee shop part of this bookstore where there's a stage and sometimes they have live music. As I walked up outside I could hear this woman singing at the top of her lungs. She was totally Phoebe Buffet from Friends (considering the song, "Smelly Cat"). She had a guitarist and she was singing her heart out. I mean it. She was full of zeal. She was like the musical theater version of Phoebe. Here's the deal...there was NO ONE in there when I got there. No one, but me. I ordered my lunch and stood around awkwardly while "Phoebe" sang. She was really going to town. Then I realized, I'm going to have to sit and eat. So, I did. It was "Phoebe", her guitarist, her 60yr old mother (who was singing "back-up" by the way) and ME. She would finish each song almost Will Farrell time even clapping for herself and saying "WHOOOO!" Was I to clap? Sometimes one lone clapper can be even worse. There were major crickets. I was waiting on Eric Wyse to get there for a meeting. I kept texting him telling him to HURRY!! Then, her mom came and sat at a table. After another song her mom called out a request and they had this banter that was as if there were hundreds of people in the room...including her mom saying, "Tell them the story about the time..." I'm looking around... "them"? It was a fantastic 15 minutes of incredibly awkward of my all time favorite settings and emotions. :) I couldn't help but think of her while watching "America's Got Talent". She would have been perfect.

Here's to you, Hasselhoff. Just when we thought reality TV couldn't get any weirder, you're saving the day. Whoooo! :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Before I even get to the game last night, let me preface by telling you that my mom bought this for our kids for Maddie's birthday (coming up in a couple of weeks). It's a trampoline. It's a HUGE trampoline. It didn't look that big on the box. It was the smaller one too. Heaven help us!

The kids absolutely LOVE it. And...if I am being honest, I'd have to say I love it too! I jumped with them last night until I was dripping with sweat. Sam even loves it! He was laughing so hard!

All that to say, the trampoline came in handy later in the night when I found myself pacing, stressed out, wanting to panic-eat everything in sight, and yelling at the Mavericks through the TV set. I knew it was time for a, about 10pm I went outside and jumped...and jumped...and jumped. Then I just sat on the trampoline and kicked back and watched the stars for a few minutes. nice!

What a game. Oh my goodness. I just knew we were going into overtime there at the end. No such luck. Poor ol' Mavs. It was a great game. They just couldn't pull it off.

Now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! Ok--so yesterday (see below) I posted a picture of Sierra reading to the girls. The book is called Super Duper Sundae Sleepover. My buddy Stuart at Waterbrook Press has offered all the readers of this blog a special summer reading deal. The first blog reader who can answer a couple of trivia questions about that book will get a special treat. Stuart will send the winner a special book package. Good luck, everyone!

1. What's special about this sleepover?
2. Who's having the sleepover?
3. The main character in the story is named Seedling. What's his older brother's name? (there's a series of books based on him too)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One of the great things about the cousins visiting is getting to watch the dynamic between them. Maddie adores Sierra and Sierra is so incredibly sweet with her. Ella and Canaan hold hands just about everywhere they walk. Sierra is really an amazing reader. She reads to everyone at night. I thought this picture was so sweet!

I didn't get a chance to write about the nice visit we had over the weekend with some old family friends from Abilene. Morgan and Pat Phillips, as well as his sister Joyce and her husband and his brother Meyer and his wife came over to my mom's for brunch. It was nice to see them. Morgan and Pat have a son, Paul, who is also an only child. He was like a big brother to me growing up...hand-me-downs and all. It was nice visiting with them.

Here are some pictures from our day at my mom's on Saturday...

Here's a great pic of my mom and all her grandkids. She's such a great grandmother!

The Thomas family and the Phillips family

Have a great Tuesday, everyone! Please keep our friend Geof in your prayers. He's recovering from a bike wreck over the weekend. It was pretty serious, but he's improving well.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Overtime?? Are you kidding me??? That was AWESOME! It would have been even better if Dallas had come out on top, but what fan wasn't chewing nails in anticipation of the finish?? Incredible!

Today was family day. We spent the majority of it at the pool. It was a great day! The kids all swam to their hearts' delight.

I hope this Monday was a good start for all of you. I pray your week goes well.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The cousins are here! Chris (Fajita) and Gail brought Canaan and Sierra yesterday and the kids have played non-stop. They are getting ready to move far, far away and we won't get to see them as much so it's fun that they'll get to spend the week together having a great time. Last night Sierra read to all of them and it was the sweetest thing!

It's been great visiting with Chris and Gail too. I'm thankful I am a part of that family. They are such an encouragement!

Happy Father's Day to everyone out there. I miss my dad today, but it was fun telling old stories of the mannequin with the old man mask on that Dad would dress up and sit on the toilet for unsuspecting people who were rushing to the bathroom. He'd twist his head to be looking at the door so you'd always hear a nice scream from the poor victims. Then there were the marbles he'd keep in the freezer which he would, without fail, dump into my bed whenever any friend spent the night. Then there were the rubber snakes, the plastic dinner rolls, the fake ice cubes with a dead fly in them, plastic cheese that would always end up in someone's hamburger when we had company...and the list goes on. We miss you, Dad!

Now, about that moment of silence for the Mavs...let's have another one and everybody pray really, really hard!! GO MAVS!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Let's all have a moment of solemn silence for the Mavericks. Here's a quote from the AP this morning...

"Now, the Mavs are somewhat of a wreck. They scored just seven points in the fourth quarter, a record low for the NBA finals."

Seriously, someone must have sprayed an anti-sinking potion on those rims that had the Mavericks' names written on it. For the love. It's not over though. It's not over!

Yesterday afternoon I had a most enjoyable hour and a half with Father Thomas McKenzie. Check out his blog by clicking here. I've also added him to my links over there. He and I are both a part of a group that's been transformational for me in recent weeks called the Samson Society. (I've also added a link to it) He's also the pastor at Redeemer, the church who used to meet at Otter Creek on Sunday afternoons. What a great guy! He was a huge encouragement to me yesterday.

Sunday night at Celebration we're doing a normal praise team thing for the first part and then Brad Crisler and I are doing an acoustic worship set. The evening begins at 6pm and will go for an hour. Come join us if you're in town.

Father's Day...if you've been reading for a while you know it's a hard day for me. I usually don't enjoy leading worship on that day. However, life has changed a great deal for me over the last 15 years since I lost my father. It's still very fresh in some ways--the missing him part. But, I've got these amazing little monkeys who climb all over me and give me hugs and kisses. It's a glorious day for me. I'm so imperfect. I have failed in many areas of my life, but these 3 beautiful children remind me that love is unconditional. They remind me that if I can be so crazy in love with them, how much more does God love me. They remind me that even through the valleys in life... laughter, hugs, and kisses still make the heart soar. What a blessing! I'm so grateful for them. I often tell each of them, whispering in their ear, "I love being your daddy". It's true. I really, really do.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Today after Sheryl and I met during lunch to do our spin class, I had a conversation with a good friend. He is one of the most gracious people I've known. I was reminded of several things...

*judgmental attitudes do not promote honest sharing (his was the opposite of judgmental)

*listening goes a long way

*preachy people do greater harm than good

*offering grace, offering friendship, offering a hand...these are essential in helping others.

Why in the world have we done the opposite of those things so often in churches? It is a peeve for me...almost as big as sharing gossip in the name of prayer requests or being "concerned". I'm so thankful for the friend I mew with today. He taught me about Jesus by his actions and his heart. I want to be that kind of person.

Now...for something lighter! :) Last night We were having some fun taking some pictures. The girls were being absolutely hilarious. Here are a few...

Maddie is ready for her debut on TBN.

Ella practices the bugle

This picture was taken by Maddie!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Last night TJ and Holly McCLoud came over for dinner. It was so much fun being with them. I really love them so much and I'm GRIEVING over them leaving us for the Dominican. However, I know they will be such a light there.

TJ stayed for a while last night so we could write some together. He's really so gifted. Before we did though, he was sweet enough to play for the girls. Maddie and Ella LOVE TJ's music...and they think Holly is the coolest thing ever! TJ played some songs they could sing along to and also let Ella strum his guitar. She was thrilled!

Here are a couple of pictures from last night.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Two stories today...

Yesterday Maddie and Ella were in the living room and Ella was playing the piano. Maddie was trying to direct her. I heard her saying...

"Now, right after I sing 'ba, ba, bam' you come in playing the piano. Ok? Let's try it."

Maddie: "Ba, ba, bammm..." (at the same time as the piano was being "played".)

Maddie: "No!! That's not it! You're supposed to WAIT until I sing 'ba, ba, bammmm'!!!"

Ella: "I like it better my way."

Gotta love it!

Yesterday Paul Young came through town on his way back to their home in Atlanta. I can't even begin to describe how their absence has impacted us. We miss them very much. I really miss Paul. It was great to spend a couple of hours sitting together and laughing and catching up on life.

Maddie and Ella are trying out a dance class today. If it works out, I'm SURE it make things ripe for more stories.

Have a great day, everyone!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Maddie part 2...

Last night as I was helping get the kids in bed, Sheryl and I were taking turns laying on each of their beds like we do each night--scratching backs, cuddling, telling stories, etc. Maddie will sometimes talk to me and rub my arm. So sweet! As we talked last night I asked her if her tummy was feeling better. (It had been really hurting earlier.

"Yes, Daddy, it feels better."

"I'm so glad. I was kind of worried about you."

"You were worried? Why were you worried about it?" She asked

"Because since I'm your daddy, I want to take care of you and make things better--especially when you're not feeling well." I replied.

She turned over and looked at me and in the sweetest voice ever said, "Daddy, you can't make me better. Only Jesus can do that."

Hello?? Words to live by from an almost 5 yr old. That simple message applies to so many areas of my life right now. I'm thankful for the reminder!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Today we celebrated the life of Jack Karnes, a quiet, gentle servant of this church. He died Friday.

On the way home from church Maddie questioned me about death...something she's been doing a lot of. I think part of it has always been there after trying to explain where "Poppie" (my dad) is.

"Daddy, what happens when we die?" she asked.

"I'm not sure, honey. But, Jesus knows and so we don't have to worry about it."

"Will I die first or will Bear (our dog)?" she questioned.

"Probably Bear. But, we don't have to worry about it. Most people don't die until they're older...really, really OLD."

Then she asked, "When you die do angels take you to Heaven?"

"I'm not sure," I said. "Maybe they do."

"Well, I think it's more like you just die and then you just wake up and you're there," she said.

"You might be right, honey."

"Daddy, why did Jesus die? Did that cross stick him and hurt him?" she asked.

"Hmmm...well, yes, it did hurt him. It hurt him so much that it killed him, but he died for us," I offered.

"Yes, and he came back to life. How did He do that? Did He just fall on the ground and then get back up?"

"No, they buried him in a cave and then God brought Him back to life."

"Daddy, how did God make us? I mean I know He made us but how did he do it? Was it like painting a picture or something?"

"Wow, what a great question, Maddie!" I said. "It was sort of like when you work with clay--God took dirt and made a man and then he took part of the man and made a woman and they were the first mommy and daddy. Now when He makes people He does it inside the mommy."

"That's really cool, Dad. I went to the 5's class today..."

And that was that. Precious moments. Hopefully, she'll continue to question. Hopefully, I won't always have a quick answer...since I really don't always know. Hopefully, she'll discover the mystery of seeking and believing even when the answers aren't black and white. Hopefully, there will be many more conversations like this one.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ella's bedtime prayer tonight...

"Dear God, I want to say I love you, God, and that's the truth. Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Sam and Maddie. Thank you that Jonathan (Shaub) has a bed that goes back and forth and doesn't have sand in it anymore. Please help Elmo because he's too little to go potty or sit on the Dora seat. And...Amen, Jesus."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Last night we gathered with a very small group of friends to celebrate Sam's first birthday. He was so adorable! We decided to go to Casa Fiesta. I mean what one year old wouldn't want Mexican food? Please.

It was so much fun! They servers even sang Happy Birthday to him in extremely thick accents. And...they placed a sombrero on Sam's head. (pics of that to come)

Here are some pics...

Look at this boy! He's such a happy little one year old! Here he sports his new bib given to him by sweet Lauren (or as Ella says... "Ya-ren")

Maddie and Ella pose here with Sydney Williamson. They all had fun at Sam's party. These smiles will melt your heart!

Sam had a Curious George cake. It was made by Margo Kelly formerly of Becker's Bakery (my favorite bakery where our wedding cake came from. It's now closed.) Margo still makes cakes and she made a PERFECTLY delicious one for Sam!

Sam prepares to blow out his candle.

Here we are with sweet baby Sam. Sheryl picked up this Nemo puppet today and he loved it!

It was my favorite 1 yr old birthday party ever!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sam!!! One year old today! What a blessing he is! All smiles. Happy Birthday, dear Sam.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I am posting yesterday's blog again--trying to get rid of the unwanted comment. Don't anyone spell the name because that only attracts them. I hate that stuff!! Plus--no more anonymous comments, guys. Sorry. If you aren't a registered user--it only takes a second and you don't have to have a blog. Just do it. :) Here's yesterday's post--

This is it. My last day. My last night. The leave of absence is almost over. I feel like that dumb guy on TV who tried to stay under water for taking a last breath of air before going under. I know that sounds crazy. But--it's true.

Thank you to the OC leadership for allowing me this time. It was needed and extremely beneficial. Thanks especially to David England who bore much of the weight while I was gone. I'm indebted!

One last thing. Ella this morning... "Daddy, does Jesus go poo-poo?" That's my girl!