Tuesday, July 31, 2007


* I've never found "The Simpsons" funny at all. I don't get it. It's dumb. HOWEVER, when my friend Daren quotes "The Simpsons" I think it's hilarious. Go figure.

* I watched Oprah yesterday. I confess. It was really awesome. The story with the couple who both have Down's Syndrome was incredible!

* I'm ready for school to start. Our kids are on each others' nerves and on what's left of mine.

* I love salsa. 24 hours a day. Salsa.

* I am way better about talking about faith than living it out

* I struggle to be vulnerable. I wish it came easier to me. I have to work at it and sometimes it's like pulling teeth. I know it's something that is really important for me to work towards...and a simple blog list of insignificant confessions doesn't equal being vulnerable.

* I love...LOVE...real whipping cream. I could eat it by the bowl full.

* I love tomatoes. There's almost nothing better than fresh, out of the garden tomatoes with a little salt and pepper.

* I absolutely LOVE the country band "Little Big Town". Former popular Christian music writer, Wayne Kirkpatrick, produces them and writes all their songs. Wayne has had a number of pop music hits including Eric Clapton's "Change the World". I listen to the LBT CD almost every single day. The melodies, the lyrics, the chord structures, the harmonies...amazing. The entire CD is brilliant. It's not one of those where you've got 3-4 good songs. They're all good.

* I like Ebay. Probably too much. It's the thrill of the hunt. Auction Sniper is my friend.

* I secretly love the TV show on Tuesday nights... "Singing Bee". I know. I know....

that's enough randomness from me today. Hope you're all doing well.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Last Wednesday we witnessed a ZOE family moment--so beautiful it is difficult to adequately describe. About a year ago, through amazing circumstances, Eric and Natalie Noah-Wilson adopted 3 Haitian children. (Eric is the executive director of ZOE and handles all the day to day business of keeping this ministry running.) They already had 3 kids (2 of whom were also adopted). These kids have had lives that we could never understand and had been living in an orphanage there--THANKFULLY! It was a wonderful place.

After a year of frustration with the Haitian government not letting the children out of that very dangerous country, the visas were finally approved and the Noah-Wilsons arrived in Nashville... the first time these children had been out of Haiti. Several of us met them at the airport where there were tears of joy and shouts of celebration after a very long year of prayer.

Praise God for being the Father of the fatherless...and for giving people like Eric and Natalie a heart to imitate Him! Nadege, Patrick and Miklene...WELCOME to our ZOE family!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Yesterday I got to experience a really neat thing... Dave Patton was producing an orchestral session on music row for a new show on a new ship from NCL called "The Gem". I got to sit in on part of the recording. It was one of the coolest things I've seen. It reminded me of TV specials watching John Williams direct movie soundtracks.

The studio itself was two levels. On the bottom floor, the strings (maybe 40 of them) were in the center. Around the outside of the floor were isolation rooms for other instrument groups--woodwinds were in one, french horns in another, percussion in another and so on. Upstairs was where all the brass sat. They could all see the conductor. (see pics below)

This was the right corner of the studio showing the two levels--imagine it fanning across the rest of the room...so incredible!

From the sound booth we could see Dave as he directed and watch the strings...this picture is small, but you can see through the glass a little bit...

As I watched the musicians doing their thing--each instrument mic'd for precision and then watched the engineer deal with the board and protools capturing the entire orchestra on a zillion channels, I geeked out for a minute or two. It's so fun living here where music is celebrated and recorded in beautiful ways. It was a pinch yourself kind of moment.

Last night we had Samson--really, REALLY loving this OC group. The sharing, the friendships, the authenticity are really building in such incredible ways. If you're in Nashville and have an interest in Samson, come visit our Otter Creek group on Thursday nights at 7pm!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I had what I would call a "BST" moment this morning. Our good friend Juanita who got married and moved to Santa Fe was back at Otter Creek with her new husband. Her nickname for years has been "Midget". She is a very pretty, put together woman whose nickname really just doesn't fit except when you get to know her. She's a nut. So, during the intro to "Meet and Greet" time this morning I said something like... "And there's Midget over there!!! Everyone be sure to welcome her!" Once I released the crowd to mingle, a praise team member pulled me aside and asked me who the "midget" was and why in the world I said that to everyone. She said that it sounded like I said, "And there's a midget over there, be sure to welcome her!" OH MY.

So, later in the service when I was covering the announcements I said, "I feel compelled to explain my earlier comment about 'Midget'. Juanita's nickname is Midget, there's not actually a midget here this morning...not that there's anything wrong with that....I mean...it would be fine if there were a midget here... that would be just fine...I mean...let's move on people." There was laughter and we moved on.

This afternoon Sheryl and Maddie got to go see High School Musical with Sarah and Sydney Williamson (live on stage). Since Maddie had a mommy date, I took Ella to see "Evan Almighty" while Sam stayed home with Nonnie. The movie was so fun!

Tonight we got to celebrate one of those incredible life moments with some of our ZOE family. Karin Hensley's son, Jackson (who SHOULD still be 5 in my mind but is now a teenager), was baptized at Otter Creek. There was a large crowd of family, friends and youth. Jackson's dad, Blake, baptized him. All of his siblings and Karin read scripture over him. It was amazing.

As I looked down the row and saw our ZOE family all watching it made me cry. We were getting to FEAST on this moment of pure joy...an answer to prayer! How awesome to see these kids come to know Jesus in real ways! Afterwards we snapped this picture (above) together.
Jackson, we rejoice with you and are so excited that you are our brother in Christ! Congratulations!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We have been working hard the last month or so on the new ZOE recording called "Overflow". It's been a really enjoyable experience this year. We've got everyone back with us and have just had a blast being together and singing again. It's not as easy as it was 10 years ago before marriage and kids became priorities in our group. Ten years later we've added 5 spouses and somewhere around 10 kids to the mix. WHEW! But it sure is fun praising God with some of your closest friends!

Here's a final list of songs on the new CD...

* Be Lifted High-- (Michael W. Smith recorded this--Leeland wrote it)

* Yours is the Kingdom

* The Word is Alive-- (one of Jason's groups, Casting Crowns, has this on their new record which comes out in August. AWESOME song!)

* Everlasting God-- ("strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord...")

* You Never Let Go-- (This one is dedicated to Tod and Leeann Brown and their whole family)

* You Are God Alone

* How Can I Keep From Singing? --(Chris Tomlin)

* You Are Good

* Where Joy and Sorrow Meet-- (Avalon)

* Your Name-- (Paul Baloche)

* Uncreated One-- (Chris Tomlin)

* To The Least of These-- (Randy Gill original)

* Be Praised-- (A George Rowe original--my buddy George goes to Otter Creek and has an AWESOME voice and heart)

* Let God Arise--(Chris Tomlin)

* Overflow--(Stephen Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore)

We finish in the studio tonight. (Lord Willing!) Please join us in praying that these songs and this CD will be a blessing and minister to people. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fiction: Jesus was an easy going guy who was always nice.
Fact: Jesus had a lot of hard teachings and harsh words to say...especially to "religious" people. When is the last time someone compared you to a viper?

Fiction: forms of worship=worship renewal.
Fact: worship comes from the heart--Jesus said it himself to the religious people of his day, "You come close to me with your lips but your hearts are far from me". Just because a church has a praise team, choir, or guitar does not make them a more worshipful church than another who may only sing hymns or use liturgy. And--just because a church worships in a more traditional style does not make it more of a worshipful place than those who adopt a more contemporary style.

Fiction: Contemporary churches know more about worship
Fact: I've been to churches where the worship was contemporary and yet the songs were very "surfacey" and the message was nothing more than a self-help version of Oprah.

Fiction: Otter Creek is a perfect place
Fact: We probably share a lot of the same kinds of struggles. This church is filled with people who are trying to live lives of worship but find themselves falling short and in need of the blood of Jesus

Fiction: Calling anonymous, blog-posting, stone-throwers "shadow lurkers" means that I think conservatives are shadow lurkers.
Fact: Anonymous blog posting stone throwers are ridiculous. If you're conservative or progressive, let's have a conversation and grow from it.

Fiction: Progressives and conservatives can never live in unity
Fact: If we love Jesus, we'll find a way to keep the conversations open and learn from each other.


Fiction: Sweet tea, birthday cake, onion rings and fried cheese are all high in calories.
Fact: Sweet tea, birthday cake, onion rings, fried cheese...along with homemade ice cream, real whipping cream, a big juicy rib eye, and a Route 44 cherry lime slush are all really, really good for you. (time for dinner!)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Our friends Jeff and Anna Berry are into week two in Nashville. It's been so fun hanging with them. Tonight was our monthly "Celebration" service. Jeff came and led worship with piano and Sheryl and Brian Randolph sang with him. It was a great night! I love being led in worship by Jeff. We had a good crowd and I know people left feeling encouraged.

During rehearsal I lost Sam for a moment and then spotted him hiding on stage under one of the praise team chairs. He had found the praise team communion trays from this morning and was hiding under the chair drinking juice--one cup at a time. I had to capture it with my phone camera...

Ella (we sometimes call her "the regulator") came to inform me that Sam drank all the "wine" and had eaten all the "peace". Our kids have always called the bread "peace". It's a combo of taking a "piece" and the actual word "peace". Early on they got it confused, but it made more sense to me than anything I'd ever heard. So now they call communion bread "peace". I like that. Apparently, Sam was communing...and enjoying every minute!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th fun....

Caption this photo of Brian Randolph.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Things that make you go Hummmm--er....

I've been noticing a lot of the new Toyota Hybrid cars in Brentwood. I think that's cool. I really would love to get a hybrid when my car finally dies. It's paid off, has 135,000 miles and sounds like an airplane. But--I have a car.

Truth be known, I like cars. A LOT. I could really be into owning cars--but then there's that whole extravagance thing. It's really hard not to want to go into major debt so I can drive the kind of car I really want. My taste in cars varies. I would love to drive a Mercedes convertible. But...I'd also like to drive a retro VW van...orange, please.

We're in a series here essentially called "Our money, God's Business". It's convicting. Really, REALLY convicting. Last week we had a drama where a couple was trying to pay off one credit card by signing up for another one while in the same breath buying a new boat. Welcome to our consumer driven lifestyle.

Isn't there a reason Jesus spoke so much about money? Isn't there are a reason why people get so defensive when the topic comes up? If we wore our financial records on our sleeves for the world to see, would it be a testimony to God...or to ourselves? (I am NOT ready to do that--and am talking mostly to myself here.)

What I see more than Hybrids around this neighborhood are Hummers. And when I see them I do frequently have to comment out loud... "Hmmm." It's mainly curiosity. What do those people do? How can they spend in gas what I probably spend on my mortgage? What are those things good for (besides looking really, really cool)?

Rob Bell has a DVD called "Rich" that speaks to our consumer driven lives. We're playing it this Sunday. He says that we are depleting the Earth of resources faster than it can replenish them. It is troubling. And It makes me think that we should re-think the words to "Jesus, Lover of My Soul"...and apply them to all of life and not just that "holy" hour on Sunday.

It's all about You, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and Your fame
It's not about me
As if You should do things my way
For You alone are God
And I surrender to Your ways.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's been a long 6 or more weeks for Stephen--my best friend and brother. Those of you who read this blog know that weeks ago Stephen lost his nephew Connor in a bad car accident. Sheryl and I have been praying and praying. We've grieved for them and then over the last 3 weeks we've held our breath as we've prayed for Stephanie's health. Stephen and Stephanie have had even more junk to deal with in the last week... read his blog here.

Sometimes God's presence seems elusive. Sometimes his still small voice seems a little too still and small. Sometimes I really relate to David when he wondered where God was. There have been some seasons in my life when I didn't have the strength or faith to put one foot in front of the other. Stephen helped me. He and my other two college roommates and I have really learned what it means to be that cord of 3 (or 4) strands... we are stronger together. When I've not been able to sing, they've sung over me. When I've not been able to pray, they've interceded for me. That is community. THAT is brotherhood.

Will you do me a favor today? Even for some of you who've never met Stephen and Stephanie---will you pray for them? Pray for strength, energy, courage, endurance, peace... I believe that He who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine...according to His power that is at work within us...He will answer. His Word says that he cannot ignore the cries of the broken hearted.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A few of my favorite things....

*My wife and kids

*Mornings with my kids laying on the couch while all three are piled on top of me

*Hilarious moments in the company of friends--you know, those moments where laughter is inappropriate but so tempting?

*My mom living in Nashville

*When my kids smile


Jeff and Anna Berry and Luke and Lindsey Norsworthy were in town this weekend for Chelsea Blanton's wedding (Mike and Paula's daughter). Jeff wrote a song for the wedding and sang it. The other "wedding singers" included Amy Grant and Vince Gill. Now THAT'S wedding music!

Jeff and Anna are here for a few weeks. We're so excited to have some concentrated time together. Last night the Berrys and Norsworthys joined us for our life group. Jeff led us in some worship...it was awesome. Worshipping with Jeff Is definitely one of my favorite things!

Here are some pics from last night...

Luke Norsworthy, Parker Berry, Jeff Berry and me

Jeff and I pose with our boys--Sam and Parker. Jeff and I have known each other since we were around their age.

Jeff and Anna Berry, Sheryl and me, Luke and Lindsey Norsworthy

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Today was Maddie's 6yr old birthday party. She wanted to have a Wizard of Oz party. Sheryl, being the creative overachiever that she is, made it an awesome experience! As the guests arrived, they climbed the yellow brick road stairs and could see the legs of the witch and the ruby slippers coming out of the bottom of the house near the door...

They entered and went under the "rainbow"...following the yellow brick road.

The kids were met by Glenda the good witch...aka: Sheryl the super mom.

While Glenda entertained the kids, the "witch" (aka: Kiki, Kevin and I) hid the gifts. Glenda sent the kids on a journey to find the presents.

When they got to the living room there was a note..."I've taken your presents! And I'll get you, my pretty...and your little dog too!!!"

The kids searched for the witch but only found her hat since she melted. But the hat held goodies...it was the homemade pinata.

Tess Bridgesmith (Lance and Juliet's daughter) and Maddie

Ella, Maddie and Darcy Colvert

Ella and Jack Williamson

My mom read from a gigantic Wizard of Oz picture book. The kids loved it!

Maddie and her birthday cake...made at the last minute when our cake lady got sick.

Blowing out the candles...Ella seems to be really into it.

Uncle Kevin--"Biggie" and Ella

The kids went wild on the trampoline--collective blood sugar about 1,467, 298

Our sweet family and friends--(L-R) Kyle, me, Sheryl, Kiki and Kevin

It was a really fun day--thanks to Sheryl and her party skillzzz. Happy birthday, Maddie!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MADDIE!!! Today my big girl turns 6. It seems like just yesterday she was that gorgeous baby with big blue eyes staring up at me. I remember how her head felt, how she smelled, her sweet smile, her laugh...I was instantly in love!

Today she's a beautiful, cheerful, caring, artistic little girl who loves her family, loves Jesus, loves to play the piano and make crafts. She still has a smile that melts my heart! Yesterday she said to me... "Daddy, wouldn't it be cool if you were still leading worship and I was on stage playing the piano?" How sweet is that? My thought was...I sure hope so, Maddie.

Happy 6th birthday!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday America!! I've always loved a good birthday celebration! Even though Nashville's Riverfront fireworks show with the Nashville Symphony is rated the #2 show in America, we decided to skip the crowd of more than 100,000 people and went to the Lipscomb fireworks show with about 800 people--more manageable!

Here are some pics from our night of fun--

The kids pose with Nonnie

What's the 4th of July without Astro pops?

Sam stood with his hands in his pockets during the National Anthem...and pretended to sing

I like to call this picture "sugar high"

Kiki and "Biggie" are back from their honeymoon and came with us tonight.

Happy 4th of July, friends!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Last night was about as full as it could be. We had 2 songs to finish but also needed to squeeze in the photo shoot before Peter flew back to California. Alan was gracious enough to bring his crew out to the studio where he got creative outside with backdrops and natural lighting.

We recorded "You Are God Alone" last night and it went well. That's a beast of a song and I was really, REALLY tired vocally.

Randy Gill was there last night and brought a song he just finished called "To the Least of These". It is absolutely gorgeous. Sheryl was in tears after he played it for us so we recorded it on the spot. I'm excited for everyone to hear it. Randy matched moving, missional lyrics with a gorgeous melody. He's very gifted.

This last picture cracks me up on several levels. Alan (the photographer) jumped in...and Sheryl is talking on my cell phone to Caroline Martin (our friend and babysitter last night) who was having issues with getting Ella calmed down. EVERYONE is glad to see a little break here from the studio for a week. We begin again next Monday.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

2 more songs done today...

"How Can I Keep From Singing"--Chris Tomlin

"You Never Let Go"--dedicated to the Brown and Bailey families. I got to call Stephen and let him hear the playback the very first time we heard it. What an awesome song!

Brad and Shannon Voss are here staying with us--it's been food for my soul to have some time with Brad. Over the last couple of years he's become a really important friend in my life. He and Stephen get to see each other all the time since they live near each other in the Ft. Worth area. But, living far away, my time with old friends is usually intense and power-packed! Praise God for family!

Tomorrow night...
"How Majestic"
"You Are God Alone"
and hopefully begin "Carried to the Table" (Leland)