Thursday, May 31, 2007

In the midst of a really grief-filled week, one of my life-long buddies came to town. Jeff Berry is here and staying with us. I needed to laugh tonight. It's been good to visit.

Speaking of Jeff...they are moving here... LORD WILLING!! I am so incredibly excited about the possibility. If anyone in Nashville reading this blog plans to go on a trip for several weeks or months and needs some house sitters, please leave a comment here. They are looking for a place to stay for a while until they can get settled. Or...maybe you have a guest house or something??? Somewhere that would be perfect for Jeff and Anna and their lovely family???

I'm up late. I can't get Tod and Lee Ann out of my mind. Their struggle seems overwhelming to me right now. Please continue to pray for all of them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Newest update...Stephen just called and Bailey is being flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas this afternoon. Stephen and his father were already to Abilene and turned around to head back to the metroplex. Please pray for them as they travel.

For more information and updates and to leave messages for the family, go to the Golf Course Road website by clicking here

Stephen is heading to San Angelo where the family is still staying waiting for Bailey to be released back to Midland. Please pray for his safety and for his heart as he anticipates seeing his sister and family for the first time. No arrangements have been made yet. They are waiting on Bailey to be moved to Midland.

The web of family in Jesus is incredible. Thanks to all who are pouring out love on the Baileys and Browns during this very difficult time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bailey is out of surgery. She shattered her leg and ankle and broke her hip. They all have a long road ahead to recovery. Please pray for Bailey Brown. Pray for Tod, Lee Ann, Hutton, Reagan, Stephen, Jay, Rose, John, Dale and Rita--and the whole family. Please pray hard that God's presence will invade every inch of their being today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I got a call tonight from Stephen and Stephanie Bailey (many of you know Stephen--my best friend for many years). Stephen's nephew, Connor, was killed in an automobile accident tonight. His sister, Bailey, was care flighted to San Angelo, TX and we don't know about her condition. Please take a minute and pray for Stephen's sister, Lee Ann and her husband Tod Brown. Please pray for Bailey.

Stephen is in Idaho with Stephanie's family. Please pray for his safety as he travels back tomorrow to be with his family. I am literally sick to my stomach tonight. I remember when these kids were born. They're in High School now (Bailey just graduated and is supposed to be at ACU this fall).

It's news you never want to hear. If I could jump in the air and fly to them right now I would. My heart goes out to all of you in the Bailey and Brown families. May God grant you peace and some sort of supernatural comfort tonight.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

David Rubio PREACHED this morning. He was awesome! I love that guy. We began taking an hour on Fridays a few weeks ago to spend together. Last Friday we just went into the sanctuary and laid on pews--pretending we were at some nice comfy retreat center--and talked. It was awesome. There's nothing like time with friends. David and I have walked through a lot together. It means a lot to me to work side by side each day. (David is our youth minister)

This morning he talked about a couple of stories from being the woman who touched the cloak of Jesus. At the end, David pointed out that there were some here today who, like that woman, came to steal a healing touch. He asked if there were doubts in our hearts that Jesus really could touch or heal. I should have responded publicly. It was convicting.

I find myself in a weird place. I want to pray for Sheryl's father--pray for real healing. I want to believe that God will do it. But, it's not that easy. I've had a mixed family experience...both parents had serious degrees of cancer. One was healed and one wasn't.

As we prayed at the end I confessed to the Lord that I feel like I walk with a limp. I have a thorn in my side--well, let's be honest, THORNS. It's God's random healings that don't make much sense to me. (insert scriptures here from Isaiah..."Who are YOU to question my power? Did you form the worlds?)

The thing that does make sense to me is that God can be praised whatever the case. and that His character is true no matter what our circumstance. Some days it's more of an intellectual agreement of that...and on some better days, my whole being believes it. That may sound like heresy to some, but I think it's pretty true to the questions many people asked in the Bible. I believe in God's power. I believe it's greater than we could ever know. I just struggle sometimes being able to wrap my mind around such a thing. I know I'll never be able to. Life with Him is an exercise in trust.

He wants our hearts...the good, the bad, the ugly. I'm glad He's big enough to hear the questions in my heart...even when they are so human.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This week marked the end of another school year for Maddie and Ella. At Otter Creek they celebrate every year with a Popsicle party. Here are some pictures from their parties...

Maddie and her good buddy, Sydney Williamson. They will both be in Kindergarten next year! No more Pre-k...these girls are ready for the big time!

After the Popsicles, Maddie's class went back inside to recite their alphabet scriptures they'd been learning all year...a different scripture for each letter of the alphabet. It was awesome! Maddie and Maddox were really into it!

Ella's party was Thursday. She's posing here with her NEW glasses. Her others took a little trip through the lawn mower after she left them in the grass.

L-R Miss Linda, Ella and Miss Anna. Miss Anna was Ella's teacher and Linda was her teacher's aide. They were so sweet to Ella and taught her so many wonderful things!

We're thankful for the experience our kids have had at Otter Creek. Next year will be crazy! All three kids will be there. Maddie will be in Kindergarten, Ella will be in Pre-K, and Sam will start with the 2's.

I took Kyler over to Martingale Music today to meet Eric Wyse, Brenda, Marc and the gang. I got some of the new Playground CDs. I LOVE the art work this time. It releases on June 4th. Check the Parable Bookstore website for more information.

Tomorrow the pool opens...PRAISE THE LORD!! Happy Memorial Day weekend. If you're at Otter Creek this weekend, David Rubio is preaching and Jordan House and the Acapella guys are leading worship. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A few things tonight...

American Idol--- YAY, JORDIN!!!!! Love her. In case you didn't know, she toured with Michael W. Smith during his Christmas tour. She's a great girl and I think she'll be a great role model.

American Idol--Bette Middler...there just aren't words. Potentially worse than Sanjaya...and that's saying a lot.

Thanks for the prayers for Sheryl's dad. It wasn't the best news, but it wasn't the worst news either. I will share more as it feels right to share. I want to be sensitive and careful in sharing too many details. But, your prayers are really appreciated. Sheryl drove to Arkansas Tuesday morning. She returns tomorrow. We're all ready to see her!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's been a busy week. Kyler made it in safely. It's good to have him here. Sam and Lauren had a date at the ZOO on Friday. Here are some pics that Lauren captured!

One of my favorite Sam expressions

Sam gets friendly with a goat

Sam had so much fun that he snoozed all the way home!

This morning I went to give notes and watch the cast from the Norwegian ship, The Majesty, do a couple of run-throughs of shows. I took the girls and Kyler with me. The cast is at that point of overload but they're doing great! Maddie and Ella love seeing the dancers do their thing. The singers are really doing a great job too.

Emily just graduated from Belmont here in Nashville. She's one of the singers. Today is her birthday--Happy Birthday, Emily!

The girls and I pose with the entire cast.

On a more somber note...please pray for Sheryl's father. We found out this week that he got some bad results on a biopsy. We won't have full details until Wednesday, but we'd appreciate your prayers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Last night was American Idol night! Brian, Nathan and David came over...along with Lauren and Deidre. We had a great time. Friends bring such joy to my life! I learned a lot about having friends from watching my parents. They have enjoyed many long term friendships through joyous and difficult seasons. I have several sets of second parents as a result. What a blessing!

Monday night we had some special guests stay with us on their way through. Lori Holland (Shane's wife--an ACU buddy) and their three kids stayed with us. As Lori and Sheryl talked downstairs, I laid on the floor in the playroom where the kids were bedded down on their pallets and told them stories of their father. I told them about how we acted crazy and some of the dumb things we did. I also told them about how i would go lay on his dorm room floor and we'd listen to worship songs and talk about God as we were both on a journey to go deeper in our faith. It was a really sweet night. The kids ate it up. I always loved hearing stories about my parents too!

Then this morning I got to visit a bit with Stephen on the way to work. It just reminds me that part of the mystery of faith and community is woven into our lives in the form of relationship. Relationships reflect who God is. I really believe that. I'm so blessed to have friends who love me and care for me. I'm feeling thankful today!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Crazy week. Been trying to get stuff done that I put off til after Pepperdine. Kyler comes this week (yay!), it's time for ZOE to get into the studio, the Orlando ZOE conference is just weeks away, and I worked a little with the new cast from Norwegian Cruise Line's "Majesty" ship in my off time.

We had an awesome life group tonight. We talked and prayed and then sat outside around a campfire. It was one of the most relaxing and fun nights I've had in a while.

Sheryl's cousin, our "Kiki", is getting married to Kevin Penna in a few weeks. She's living with us til then so we're getting to have some fun times with her and also with Kevin. She had her bridal portrait yesterday. It was madness around here!

Today we pay tribute to our mothers...

My mom absolutely rocks. She's funny, smart, caring, interested in people and in all kinds of new things. She is rarely bored, but often disciplined to be quiet. She struggles to get around, but she's one of the most active people I know. She is witty, yet wise. She's direct, yet sensitive. She's a great mom and a wonderful grandmother. I LOVE that she lives here and that my kids think it's the biggest treat in the world to go to her house. What a blessing she is!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!! I love you!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

couple of things today...

I was thinking last night about the statement, "All's fair in love and war." Isn't that such a weird and ironic statement? I know the point is that basically engaging in love or war means most normal rules go out the window. But, it seems ironic to me because if ever things weren't "fair"'s usually in love, or war. As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I have to say about that."


American Idol...I wasn't surprised. I was relieved that Blake didn't get the boot. In my opinion, next week's results show will be way more interesting than the finale.


Sam is so hilarious right now. Every day it's a new phrase or look. Last night I taught him to bump my fist with his fist and say, "YEAH, babyyyyyy!" I love to watch them develop and grow.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

So many thoughts swimming in my head from last week in California.

Thoughts like...

-How can one man (Jeff Walling) look so different with one haircut?

-Who do I know today who isn't in relationship with Christ who I could possibly be worshipping with in a few years?

-What would it really be like to adopt a child from Ghana? Could we do it?

-Why does it have to cost so much to live in Malibu??

-Mike Cope and Daryl Tippens words about sorrow becoming joy...still processing.

-How can I help my friends, Lindsey and Peter?

-Can people really experience the fullness of joy without walking through intense sorrow?

-Will my kids be able to grow up into faith in spite of me, in spite of public ministry, and in spite of the messages the world (and sometimes the church) sends on all sides that are in opposition to the gospel?

-What will worship forms look like in 15 years?

-How can we get more Otter Creek people to Pepperdine next year?

-What seeds were planted in people's hearts after hearing Mike speak about his sister-in-law, Pam? What might happen in the lives of those children as a result?

-I'm so grateful for my family and my ZOE family.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

What a great week we've had! I love Malibu...the ocean, the hundreds of flowering trees and bushes, the sound of the waves, the cars driving along the Pacific Coast Hwy with surf boards riding on top, Dukes seaside restaurant, Marmalade’s incredible salads, a large "Malibu dream" from the Coffee Bean, John's Garden's Malibu shopping area complete with a playground for kids, the Serra Monastic retreat center, the fresh sea air, the lush Pepperdine's almost like food for my soul!!

the view outside our room overlooking Pepperdine's campus all the way to the ocean. Ridiculous.

The chapel on Pepperdine's campus.

Serra Retreat center and Monastery

The kids at the Serra Retreat Center.

Sam and I pose at the Serra Retreat Center/ Monastery.

A windy day at the beach.

Sheryl and Ella walking the beach together.

Sam at the Malibu market area

The worship times all went well. We had six sessions total. Some were just ZOE, others were with Mike Cope or Jeff Walling. The spirit that people bring to the Pepperdine conference just blesses me so much. The worship and class times are always filled with energy and excitement. The worship is vibrant and participative. The fellowship is sweet!

But the real reason I love going to Pepperdine is because of the people. We always see lots of friends. This year was no exception. Beth Ann Fisher (wife of Craig--college roommie with Stephen, Chris and me) was there with her kids, Riley and Owen and her parents, Gary and Ruth Ann Souder. It was SO much fun watching our kids play together like long-lost best friends. What a joy!

Sheryl and Beth Ann

Lunch was so much more fun with friends!

L-R Maddie, Ella, Riley, and Owen

Riley and Maddie (how can we not wish they'd get married some day??)

Ella and Owen (ditto!!)

Sam did his best to keep up and join the fun. He was so cute to watch with them.

All the kids played together on Friday at The Malibu Market area on the playground.

I got to see lots of old friends like Jonathan Ross, Jeff Howell, Mitch and Shannon Wilburn, John and Sarah Siburt (Sarah sang with us one day!), Don Jocoy, Russ and Rebeka Debenport, Mike Cope, Daryl Tippens, Bruce and Taylor Morgan, Jim Hinkle, my cousin Shannon and her family, and so many more.

Jonathan Ross with Sheryl and me

My cousin, Shannon, her husband Corey and me

the cousins...Maddie, Ella, Claire and Carsen.

But the biggest treat of all was when my former singing partner on Norwegian Cruise Line, Beverley Staunton, drove out one night for one of our late night worship times. I hadn't seen Bev in 13 years. What a joy! I have loved getting to hear her sing every week on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars". Her voice is one of my favorite female voices right under a woman by the name of Sheryl Thomas. Listen for her as she sings "Stand By Your Man" this Monday. What a fun gig she has--live music on National TV every week! It was really neat to be able to introduce her to the crowd in Smothers Theater that night and talk about our individual journeys over the last 13 years that have both brought us to a deep faith in Jesus. We sang "He's Always Been Faithful to Me" after that and those words came alive in new ways!

This was the first time we took all three kids with us. In fact, we had EVERYONE including Kiki, Lauren, Deidre, all of ZOE, and Sheryl's parents. We really missed my mom being there this year. It was so much fun to have most of the family there. Kiki, Lauren and Deidre were a HUGE help with the kids while we sang. This year for the first time Maddie and Ella came to our 2pm class with Mike Cope. They were so cute! Ella even had a part in our final class on Friday.

Sheryl and her cousin Kim (Kiki)

Kiki with the girls at the beach on a VERY cold and windy day!

Lauren holds a miserable Sam as he fights the wind.

The girls with Mee-Maw and Paw-Paw. (Mitch and Shannon Wilburn are right behind them in this pic...see post last week of ACU pics with Shannon and Tara McKnight!)

At one of our late night worship hours I was able to share a part of my journey this last year. That's never an easy thing to do. I sometimes struggle with feeling a bit ridiculous after sharing. I know that's Satan trying to convince me that vulnerability does NOT pay. But God always finds amazing ways to remind me afterwards that there are huge benefits to desert times and that others are blessed when we can share our own wounds and stories.

I enjoyed having some time with Peter and Lindsey too. Lindsey has been really sick and we’ve been praying hard for her. They are busily making wedding plans for their big day in August. Most all of ZOE is flying out to the vineyard where they will be married in Northern California. I can't wait!!

Our last night at Pepperdine was complete with one screaming Ella, one non-sleeping and screaming Sam, one sick Mee-Maw, a bed breaking in the middle of the night, one very sleepy mommy and one long day of travel ahead. It was time to come home to (as Maddie and Ella say...) our "very cozy beds".

In the airport as we waited for our flight, I had a nice surprise...we ran into my friend Taylor who was coming back from living in Australia. He was at Otter Creek for a while and is coming back to the states to raise money for his work there. He was on our flight home. After he told us of his flight experience and being up for almost 40 hours straight, we felt a little less like complaining!

Taylor and me

One last seems Maddie has moved on from her LONG time crush on Peter Wilson. These days she fancies the younger Wilson brother, Zach! Zach took a break from touring with Acapella to come sing with us this week. It was so fun having him! Pete, I guess Maddie finally came to grips with the fact that Lindsey really IS the woman in your life.

Here's Maddie and Zach!

This pic of Sam on the way home really sums it all up!

Thank you to all of you who came to Pepperdine and blessed us so richly. Thanks also to those of you who said hello who are stealth blog readers! Now I KNOW you’re out there!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Just a quick report...not much time to write. Things are going well out here in Cali. We've done 5 sessions so more to go this afternoon. The worship has been so uplifting and the teaching has been formative. I can't wait to share more. Last night was a night where all my worlds collided. It was waaay cool. More soon.

One of my favorite things about the week has been watching my kids with Riley and Owen Fisher (my college roommate, Craig's kids). They are here with Beth Ann and her parents. It has done my heart so much good to hear them laugh together and watch them play. What a blessing!!

Back tomorrow---