Thursday, November 30, 2006

Crazy week! Rehearsals are going well for "Sanders Family Christmas". Having so much more room on stage certainly makes a difference. The set should be done in the next week and we'll be cooking with grease!

This show is such a blast. It's been 2 years, but the lines and the songs are all coming back to us. The best part about it is the chemistry with the cast. We have such a great time together.

We're still...STILL putting up Christmas decorations. It's been a challenge this year because we're having to be creative with where to put things since we have mister "Search and Destroy". So far, Sam hasn't pulled the Christmas tree over on him so that's good.

I hope those of you who are in or near Nashville will make plans to come see "Sanders Family Christmas". It opens December 15th at 7pm.

Now...for your complete enjoyment...this was a hilarious clip done for the ZOE conference last year. Finally, it's on YouTube! My buddy, Mike who is one of the most gifted SPEAKERS in the world tries his hand here at "singing the classics"!

Have a great Thursday--looks like it's our last slightly warmish day here in Nashville.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yesterday was one of those days where it seemed all things converged into this amazing 24 hours of beauty. Worship was absolutely moving. It's one of those things no person can orchestrate. The Spirit was moving!

Afterwards, we had an afternoon of putting up Christmas decorations. The sparkle in my kids' eyes made it such a special day. As I was putting garland around the front door I had this weird epiphany of where I am in life. Sometimes it's hard to believe that I have kids. Sometimes it seems like I should be outside our home in the country in Texas helping my father put lights around the banisters. I missed him yesterday, but also thanked God for these 3 beautiful children who are allowing me to experience the magic of the season all over again.

Last night we had a great life group meeting. Sheryl made turkey enchiladas (left over turkey) that were out of this world good! It was a great night.

Then, putting an exclamation point on the day, I had a very cool conversation with a friend about life/creative stuff/family/etc. It was very energizing.

I keep thinking how God brings things around full circle--sometimes in ways we would not expect. There are a lot of stories in the Old Testament that have those kinds of plot twists. Moses--raised in Egypt, called back to Egypt. Joseph-- cast out by his brothers only to find himself in a position to bless them later. I love how God weaves people and experiences into our lives. I find it entirely exciting and mysterious. Life with Him is anything but boring! Can you see ways He's doing that for you?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's been a great couple of days...enjoying family, feeling better and less sinus-y, and spending time with good friends.

Thursday morning I was at the Otter Creek Thanksgiving service and got to sit with Cory and Elizabeth Davis and their family. Scarlet had this awesome Indian headdress on. It had a pink sequin band and pink and white feathers. She was definitely festive. Half way through Phil Wilson's Thanksgiving speech (which was wonderful, by the way--great job, Phil!!) Scarlet leaned over and said loudly, "WHEN DO WE GET TO TALK ABOUT THE INDIANS???" Maybe my favorite moment of the day.

Today Paul and Jill Young came over and we had a wonderful visit with them. We still miss them every day and pray God will bring them back to Nashville soon.

Tomorrow we are studying Romans 5. I'm looking forward to it--such a great text! I'll be taking the cup from that inner circle on the tray and fellowshipping with my brothers who are near to my heart but far away in miles. God is good.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The last few days have been really unbelievable. God is weaving people and ideas into my life in amazing ways. I can't wait to see what is in store!

Ty was able to get tickets for Sheryl's parents last night to see Lion King. It was their very first Broadway musical of any kind. They had Orchestra level seats right on the aisle where they could see the animal procession up close and personal! They were blown away! Thanks, Ty!!!

Here's a fun little Thanksgiving spoof for you. Produced by my buddy, Rob Thomas and starring his brother Blair. (He kills me!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A couple of nights ago we took our parents, Maddie and Ella, and our friends, Kyle and Katey to see "The Lion Sings Tonight". It was a benefit concert for Nashville Cares done by the cast of the Lion King tour. Our friend, Ty, had a couple of songs he wrote in the show and we went to support him.

It was quite the eclectic night. Let's just put it this way...some of the women from the cast performed "The Cell Block Tango" from the musical "Chicago". I wanted to crawl under my chair...or at least away from my in-laws who were seated next to me. At one point during the number Maddie leaned over and said, "Who ARE these people??? This was NOT in the Lion King!"

There were some amazing moments in the show. The girls loved it all but Ella's favorite part was when the kid who plays Young Simba did a number from The Tap Dance Kid. It was pretty awesome! I think in total around $13,000 was raised to benefit Nashville Cares. you smell it??? (I can't. My nose is stopped up!) It's the smell of turkey and dressing being laid out and readied. YUM! I can't wait! My mom's orange salad and hashbrowned casserole, Sheryl's sweet potatoes, and more!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Here are some pics from last night at the Ryman. We always love singing with Victor and his group. We've been singing together at various Nashville events since 2000. They have become like extended family to us!

This was for the Nashville Thanksgiving gathering--all denominations. It's great when God's people gather in unity!

My buddy, George Rowe, also sang. He wrote a new praise song that ROCKS! We might see if we can do it with ZOE.

This first picture is in the green room backstage...complete with lots of Minnie Pearl pictures on the wall! The Ryman just screams history. It's filled with the voices of those long gone and other quirky things like James Taylor's autograph literally on the stage. It was a great night and we're thankful we were a part of it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here are some pics from the weekend...birthday fun and friends!

Sheryl and me

The most AWESOME cake made by our friend, Margo. YUUUUUUM! (I am STILL a kid at heart!)

My buddy Jeremiah who works at CMT with Amanda.

my friend, Matt Costner. We see each other on Monday nights at Samson.

Nathan, Brian and me...old friends are such a blessing! We had such a blast that night!

Fernando, Ty and me...some of my Lion King buddies

Tonight ZOE and Temple are singing at the Ryman...come at 6:30 if you're in town. It's a Nashville city-wide interdenominational Thanksgiving service! It will be lots of fun!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yesterday was a very long day. I got home late after rehearsal for "Sanders' Family Christmas" and fell into bed. It was a great rehearsal though!

Today was busy too but full of neat moments. I met my friend Ty from Lion King downtown for lunch. We met Amanda at CMT and walked over to Broadway for some REAL BBQ! Geof met us there. It was nice.

Afterwards I took Ty over to Kirkpatrick Elementary School where I am a room parent for a Kindergarten class (through an Otter Creek outreach program). We took the Lion King program and CD and Ty masterfully held them in the palm of his hands. Those kids were so cute hanging on his every word and watching such a positive role model. It was a precious scene.

Tonight before his show Ty joined us for dinner. Maddie made sure she sat right next to him. (Maddie also drew a family portrait today. Ty was made an official family member...but somehow Ella was left out. She claims it was because she "ran out of room". mmm hmm.)

God is good. He shows Himself in so many the innocence of a child, in the development of new friendships, in an email from a long lost friend, through extending and receiving forgiveness, through a haunting melody, or in the silence of a rainy day moment. He is good.

Here are some pictures of Ty and Jennifer Ward's lovely Kindergarten class at Kirkpatrick.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Birthday memories...

Believe it or not, I still remember my 2nd birthday party. It was early 70s, my cake was a yellow smiley face...very popular symbol then! :) I remember my Granny Tucker walking through the kitchen of our old house (my great grandmother).

I remember a few years later when my parents planned a surprise party for me at the local roller skating rink. I was so surprised that I wet my pants. Nice thing to do at your OWN birthday party. I remember not wanting anyone to know so I skated and skated and skated around and around and around until it dried out. Absolutely disgusting. I probably smelled like an outhouse. Maybe I have bladder issues?

I remember my 16th birthday party...a costume party. It was a blast. I went as a gladiator.

I remember birthdays after that for years spent with my family, my cousin Josh, my close friends Kyle Dickson, Donjalea Reynolds, Mark Reeves, Stephen Bailey and others. We always went to The awesome restaurant in Abilene that is now closed.

I remember celebrating my 22nd birthday my senior year at ACU right after losing my dad. My friends made that such a special birthday in spite of the circumstances.

I remember celebrating with friends in Dallas when I lived there, then here in Nashvegas. Marriage and kids brought a new personality to this day. Even more fun!

Last night Sheryl made the most amazing (early) birthday dinner. We ate and laughed and celebrated. I am so thankful for my family!

On a different note, I had the weirdest small world experience again yesterday. Last week Sheryl and I were watching "Dancing with the Stars" (yes...we were). As we watched I kept saying...I KNOW that voice! The female singer sounded EXACTLY like Beverley Staunton who was my singing partner for the entire time I worked for Norwegian Cruise Line/ Jean Ann Ryan Productions. She had the same phrasing, same kinds of interpretations, etc. I told Sheryl that I just knew it was her. So yesterday, Audra Hudson who was one of the dancers in our show (we've remained close friends through the years--HI AUDRA!!) confirmed that it really IS Beverley! CRAZY small world! She wasn't on last night, but I am hoping that she'll be singing tonight on the finale of the show on ABC.

Today will be spent in meetings mostly...and rehearsal...loooooooong rehearsal tonight for "Sander's Family Christmas". At least I'm getting to spend my birthday with people I really love and got to be awakened this morning by 3 beautiful children carrying balloons! Life is great! (Even tho I am turning 30...again.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Happy birthday today to one of my long time best friends, Chris Doggett. (Pictured here with his gorgeous daughter, Taylor, who decided to be born on our wedding day 8 years ago!)

Chris was one of the 3 guys I lived with at ACU (you've read a lot about those guys if you read my blog.) Chris was always the most studious. He was always the more GQ. He kept us in stitches laughing about Po-Folks and their horrible service, Oprah and why she was always wrong, and how to contort one's body in unnatural ways. I have been blessed beyond any words over the last 18 years of our friendship. I love sharing birthdays in such close proximity. And, I love to remind him that he'll always be the oldest of the 4 of us.

Happy birthday, Dog. You are such a blessing! Your heart for Jesus has kept me going in ways you may never know. I love you and thank God for creating so many, many, MANY years ago.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yesterday I took Maddie and Ella to see the Griffith/Meador production of songs from Fiddler, Music Man, and Oklahoma. These kids were simply amazing. I was completely blown away. It's not a secret that the Griffith and Meador kids are all gifted beyond anything natural...but everyone in the group did a great job! Maddie and Ella loved every minute! I would love to get them involved in something like that. They came right home afterwards and dressed up and did their own "show". Here's Ella's version of "The Lion King"!

Last night I spent time with the guys in our life group. We hung out at Geof and Amanda's and Amanda made some slammin dinner! It was an awesome night. After I left I got a call from my friend in Lion King and I met him for a late dinner after the show. We had an awesome discussion about Romans, grace, life, and God. Though I got in really late, I still feel energized today after our discussion.

This morning was great...the only down side was thinking about that dumb anonymous letter. I really wanted to confront it publicly, but decided that I didn't want to hi-jack the service. Sheryl had a hectic morning too...the kids are all sinus-y and she's not feeling great either. She said it was difficult getting there today and she knew she'd be late and all she could think about was that ridiculous letter and how judgmental it was. It made me angry to think that something like that can have such lingering effects. It's also interesting to consider how that letter came during a week where God seems to be giving me some new dreams and thoughts about ministry and Kingdom. Hmmmmm...interesting timing, huh? Satan loves to be a wet blanket. And while discouragement is strong, the Holy Spirit and the faithfulness of God are much, much stronger!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yesterday was a fun day. I got a lot done for one thing and that always feels good. Yesterday afternoon I met my friend, Ty, from Lion King and we hung out and then met up with Sheryl and the kids. I didn't tell Maddie and Ella that he was coming. Maddie was headed to a birthday party at "Brush Fire" (a pottery painting place) so we met them there. The girls were excited to meet Ty. I could tell because they both went into their "deer in the headlights" expressions. Maddie wouldn't say a word to him.

We walked into the party with them and I saw Maddie run over to her friends and point to Ty saying, "that's my friend, Ty." Funny!

Sheryl, Ella, Sam, Ty, Fernando (another Lion King friend) and I went to dinner while Maddie was at her party. Ty tried to teach Ella the right way to sing the first song in the show that "Rafiki" sings...."Saaaaaab a gin ya....sab ah oh mamaaah". And, I guarantee you, I just butchered it. The woman who plays "Rafiki" is from South Africa. Her name is Pendi. She was supposed to join us but ended up going back to the hotel.

As we were talking, we discussed NYC and friends there, etc. I told them how I used to love to go for visits and stay in the dorm with my friend Jay who was at Julliard. Fernando said, "I wonder if that's the same Jay who my friends from Julliard talk about?" So, he got on the phone to another cast member and asked her his name. Sure enough, Jay Franke proves to be, once more, less than 6 degrees of separation. Jay and I were in "Music Man" at Casa (back in TX). He was hired for the show while beginning Julliard. It was right after the ship for me. We used to sit backstage and talk about Oswald Chambers...HA! He's a hilarious guy and good friend. SUCH A SMALL WORLD!

Today we are planning to go to a musical review presented by a homeschooling co-op that some of our friends are a part of. Alice Griffith and Shelli Meador have put it together--so you can imagine how amazing it will be.

I keep feeling excited about what God is stirring up in this artists' fellowship idea. God's certainly paving roads in interesting ways. Hallelujah!

Happy weekend, boggers!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Age is a funny thing. Age and maturity don't always go hand in hand. I've known young people who've exhibited maturity far beyond their years and I've witnessed 50+ people act like children in conflict. Many kids want to be older than they are. Many adults want to be younger than they are. Age...after a certain point it's all relative.

Last night we spent time with some dear friends who hadn't even graduated High School when Sheryl and I got married. But, that 12 year age difference seems like nothing today. Eric and Sallie Miller have blessed our lives in many ways. Sallie and Sheryl are in Bunko together and she sings on the praise team. Eric and I have become great friends over the last couple of years. He's a huge source of encouragement and accountability for me. Last night we sat and laughed for a couple of hours at Chili's. They are a true support for both of us.

Friendship is a sweet gift! It's a gift of mercy from the Lord. This morning Maddie asked me what "mercy" meant. I told her it was a gift from God and that to be merciful means to extend grace and forgiveness. She said, "Ohhhh, yeah. Well, 5 year olds can really do that but 3 and 4 year olds have to really think about it." HA! I told her that everyone has to think about it and that even Mommies and Daddies don't always do it.

Mercy, friendship, family...several of the things I'm grateful for today.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This is a happy picture. :) Amy Westerman sent it to me. This is ZOE singing at the Schermerhorn. What a fun night that was! Thanks, Amy!

One thing I will say, thank you anonymous letter writer for two really awesome days in my spin class. I think I killed that bike! SWEET RIDE!

Last night Bob True spoke at our Vespers service. It was INCREDIBLE! He talked about The Community of Sant'Egidio. It completely fired me up. Check out their website by clicking here

I continue to be amazed at how cool the internet can be with sharing in community. I broke down and joined the yung'uns and now have a "face book". Check out the link over there. You know how much I love pictures...this is a cool way to share them! You have to log in to see them, but it's free and fun.

Also, ZOE now has a myspace music page in case you're interested in checking it out here.

Have a great day, friends!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One more thing and I'm done...

My reaction to this has been somewhat defensive. I'm human. Though my heart knows that serving Jesus means turning the other cheek, at the core of my being I struggle to do that. What I really want to do is fight. So, there. I confess to you all that my humanity gets in the way of really responding like Jesus might. It is ironic to feel such conviction but be unable to follow through when you find yourself on the chopping block.

The truth is, I don't know who wrote this. I don't know their heart. I can't stand in judgment of them when I have planks hanging out of my eyes with large, orange "oversized load" signs on them.

Some of my posts have had a tone of defensiveness and bitterness. I admit, that's honestly what I am feeling. But, I confess to you tonight that I feel convicted that God isn't pleased with that either.

Thanks for your comments, for feeling my hurt, for coming to my defense, for being my friends. Let's turn the page and move on. Forgive me for not being more willing to extend grace and mercy. I really want to, but my real self gets in the way.

And...PS: tonight's Vesper service was AMAZING. I am hearing God speaking to me about this idea I mentioned earlier today. It's as if everywhere I turn He's whispering, even shouting at me. I haven't heard Him communicate like this to me in a long time...since the beginning of ZOE. I really feel a bubbling, a holy anticipation...who knows what's in store?? It's exciting! Tonight's message at Vespers only added one large shout in the collection of messages I've heard all day long. What a blessing!!

Thanks for the comments yesterday from everyone...some on the blog, some emailed. Let me again reiterate that our Children's Worship program is fantastic. Our children's ministers, Janet and Melanie, are awesome and we have a great time together. There were parts of that letter that I left off intimating that we were not in support of each other which is laughable. I don't think anyone in children's ministry wrote that letter.

I may be wrong here and God bless those of you whose hearts go out to the writer of the letter...but, as I stated in my comment yesterday, there was no redeeming quality to it. It wasn't a knee jerk, sent through email reaction by someone. It was hand-written, addressed, stamped and mailed. I do not have respect for that kind of thing. It's meant to be hurtful, it's meant to be mean. Having said that, if the person were to come to me, even now, it would be a good conversation because we would be able to share heart to heart and face to face. But, I will not endorse those kinds of letters in any way. I printed it on here as a statement to say, ANONYMOUS LETTERS DON'T WORK! If that offends some of you, I apologize. It is one of my all time pet peeves. Can you tell???

Having said that, I had a turning point yesterday after being bugged by this. I met with my friend Ty who is currently touring with The Lion King. It was incredibly encouraging. We are dreaming together about an organization for Christian Artists/Performers...something that would bring fellowship, accountability, worship, and feeding to those on the road or in that environment. More on that later.

This morning we met again to continue hammering out details for the Operation Andrew City Wide Thanksgiving service. I'm excited about that and seeing so many Nashvillians come together to worship.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The highs and lows...

It was great to be with my family some yesterday. I really missed them! Then about 5pm last night we got a surprise call from our friend Amanda at CMT who offered us tickets to the CMA awards. We scrambled and got down there in time---it was SO FUN and thanks to Amanda we had great seats too! (we sat behind my friend Ty from the Lion King and the other cast members.) CMA's...what an awesome show! My favorites were the Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride. Wow...I had not heard her song, "Do It Anyway". Powerful message there. And...Carrie Underwood won the New Horizon Award AND Best Female Vocalist of the Year!! So cool to be there for that! Thanks Amanda!!

I came in early this morning to begin my day of meetings. A letter was waiting for me. Normally, anonymous letters get trashed without even a reading. However, I read through this one...and just the fact that I'm even mentioning it here will no doubt give satisfaction to the writer. It never ceases to amaze me how some "church people" can be so small. Small, timid people who want to cast their opinions or objections without having the courage to confront you face to face. These types of people are the ones who I hope will stay far away from the hurting and broken people who are coming to Otter Creek more and more these days. I'd like to share a bit of this letter with you...just in case anyone out there in ministry wonders if anyone else gets crap like this. (this is regarding my announcement a week or so ago that I blogged about confessing my stupidity...)

"Try following your own rules. Your children come late, leave early, or don't come at all. Does your family ever go to Sunday school or support the teachers at all?

Try working children's worship a few times. Maybe during one of your "sabbaticals", but, of course you'd have to actually attend church during that 6 week vacation.

Try coming to functions where you're NOT in the spotlight like baptisms or celebrations or showers you tell us to go to.

Try living out what you preach (your children were picked up early also). Your "talk" means nothing because we see your walk.

A lot of us "little people" in the background behind the scenes make your "show" possible and we don't get paid for our church work, take the vacation days you do, or keep so few office hours. We do our work at church on Sunday and then go to work on Monday to support YOU.

Many families with young children

I'd love to offer commentary, but I'm pretty sure it speaks for itself. Plus I always love how anonymous writers usually sign things, "sincerely" or "in brotherly love"...nice. And...typically they claim to speak for the "many".

As I stated last week---I was confessional in that announcement saying that our family had also been confused about times and since no one else was going to actually make an announcement I was going to say something. Here's my thing--it's fine for people to think whatever they want to. But, if you have a beef with me, please come talk to me. I don't bite! One well-meaning (that may be generous) person called Doug, our administrator, yesterday all revved up over what I said. A little ways into the conversation Doug said, "Well, I wasn't actually there to hear it." She said, "Yeah, I wasn't either." Gotta love that.

Enough venting from me. But, I wanted to print that in all its glory so that some of you fellow ministers out there would know you're not alone. We all get these.

Now...on to my day of "doing nothing".

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I had a wonderful weekend in TX. I got to lead worship at ACU, enjoy dreaming with highly creative minds and encourage students in their pursuit to enter the world of the arts. ACU Film Fest encourages students in screen writing, production, art and sound design, original score, and acting. It's one more way they are trying to train students to make a difference in the world.

Thursday night Stephen and I went over to see Brad Voss and his family. It was great to have some time to talk. Every time Stephen, Voss and I have gotten together the conversations go deep and the fellowship is incredible. Love those guys!

On Friday I led worship in chapel at ACU. I asked some old friends to join me in leading worship. (L-R) BST, Kellie Miller, Stephen Bailey, Kristin Ward, and Val Durrington. All of us but Kellie were Sing Song hosts together a hundred years ago. Kellie had been a host several years before us and then sang in groups with all of us. It was fun singing together again. It was also great to be at chapel and see students worshiping. I loved getting to see Ashley Henderson, James Woodroof, Bo Mechinus and other students out there.

Friday night was the premier of the top films for Film Fest. It was a cool night at the historic Paramount theater. It was fun judging this year. The films were so impressive!
(L-R) Matt Maxwell, BST, Randy Brewer. Matt was the chairman of Film Fest. He's got more talent than you can shake a stick at. Randy and I have been great friends for years. He and his family live in Nashville too. Randy produces music videos. He just won an award for Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel".

Saturday after the judges' symposium we drove back to Dallas and I got to spend some time with my cousins. They've always been more like siblings to me. I had some good one on one time with each of them. Pictured L-R... Mary, Josh, BST and Jeremy. It was good to be with family.

This morning I went to church at The Heights in Plano. Jeff Berry leads worship there. It was great to be there in his place and experience that vibrant church. After arriving back in Nashville tonight, I got home just in time for life group--again it was good to be with family. It was even better to get hugs and kisses from Sheryl, Maddie, Ella, and Sam!

Have a great week, blog family!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I snapped this picture yesterday. It rained and then the sun came out a bit--enough to make the fall colors vibrant!

Yesterday was a cool day in many ways. Lots of incredible God stories and interactions. Too many to go into, but I was just blown away by the time yesterday was over by God's power in orchestrating relationships, timing, people, and places. He is amazing.

I had a neat conversation with one of the actors from Lion King yesterday. We talked about faith stuff and the struggles of being on the road. I think he might come visit Otter Creek while he's in town. The cast from Lion King is doing a benefit for Nashville Cares on November 20th called "The Lion Sings Tonight". Those of us in Nashville should plan on going. I know I'll be there. It should be awesome!

This morning we had a planning meeting with the Operation Andrew Board for the upcoming worship time at the Ryman. Victor and I are leading the worship time like we have in the past. I love working with Vic! We're hoping the Donna Summer will also be involved. (She lives here and is a Christian). That happens Sunday, November 19th at the Ryman. Those of you from out of town, just take a longer T-Giving holiday and come to Nashville for both events! :)

I am excited about leading worship in chapel at ACU tomorrow. I got to assemble my own praise team...4 of us were all Sing Song hosts together. Stephen Bailey, Val Durrington, Kristin Ward and Kellie Miller will be leading worship with me. That's gonna be so fun! Then the film fest activities begin. It should be a great weekend!

I have been so incredibly encouraged again and again by Paul's letter to the Romans. I've been hearing the Spirit remind me all week about the mercy of God. That deep, profound gift. It alters life. And, it should alter how we love one another.

I'm grateful for you, blog family!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lots of ground to cover from the last few days...might take a couple of blogs.

Been swimming in creative stuff this week, which I really, really love. We just happen to have a guy relatively new to Otter Creek who was a set designer. YEA! We met this week about set design for Sander's Family Christmas. It's gonna be sweet!

I got to cut 5 more songs using the tracks from the Prague Symphony for the Family Christian Bookstore Hymns record set to release in December. I had to get my legit game on. Singing songs like "All Creatures of Our God and King", and "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee" with an entire symphony going nuts will bring it out of you real quick! It was fun!

Last night we got to go see the Broadway tour of "Lion King"! Sheryl and I saw it 6 years ago in New York...and it hit me last night...this little 5 year old girl sitting next to me (Maddie) was already with us and we weren't even aware yet. She was just a little peanut.

The show...simply amazing. AMAZING. It's just as good as what we saw on Broadway. Sometimes the tours are sub-par, but not in this case. It's beyond excellent. I was just in awe again of the scenic design and costumes...and not just the costumes, but the choreography required to pull each character off. Unbelievable. If this show comes anywhere near your city, it is not to be missed. Thank you, Mom, for the tickets!!! Here's a pic of the girls with Nonnie last night. (Ella decided she'd go with the tiger theme instead of Bo Peep for the show)

Today all over the world people are celebrating "All Saints Day". Tonight's Vespers service will have that theme. As I close, I want to honor some of the saints who have impacted my life who are no longer with us.

My father, Sam Thomas--a role model of peace, charity, affection, humor, and love for everyone.

Buddy Arnold--former music minister at Otter Creek. His example impacted me deeply. Though our styles differed, he taught me so much about the heart of worship and about championing different ways to worship.

John Crothers--another Otter Creeker. John welcomed me with open arms in the beginning of my tenure at OC. His humor, his stories, his capacity to love still bless me in my memories of him.

Pauline Brandon--my maternal grandmother. She kept faith, joy, spirituality, and warmth alive for my mom and her siblings even when times were very hard. She was a wonderful woman of God.