Thursday, November 29, 2007

We had our first rehearsal last night with the band. They are awesome! We fast approaching December 16th. I hope some of you can come! The choir is doing a great job! Tonight we have our first choreography rehearsal with the kids. That will be fun too!

After rehearsal for Christmas I met with the singers who are doing "Seasons of Love" Sunday. It's also sounding great. We prayed afterwards that the message of the song would glorify God and thanked Him for blessing us with His love.

Hope you are doing well!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Well, it's definitely the Christmas season. You can hear the hum of the engine of busy-ness cranking into full roar. And...ironically, we're in a series at Otter Creek about time and how our time belongs to God. It's hard not to feel the irony.

The series is called "12 Million Minutes". We have a creative planning team for worship now--approximately 15 people serve on it. The team is made up of artists, music people, children's ministers, those with a contemplative bent, some drama folks, videographers, writers, idea people, etc. It's such a blessing!

As we've been putting creative elements together for this series on "Time" it's been fun to have a balanced group who surfaces incredible ideas. This Sunday we will have a special dramatic reading of Eccl 3 put together by one of our members. Last week, Scott Owings and my mom wrote a contemplative prayer exercise and led the congregation through it on Sunday.

When I heard the title, "12 Million Minutes", and the description of measuring our time by God's design and purpose, my mind immediately went to the lyrics from "Seasons of Love" (the hit song from the Broadway musical RENT). It goes like this...

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes -
how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love. Seasons of love.

525,600 minutes! 525,000 journeys to plan.
525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?
In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.
It’s time now to sing out, tho the story never ends
let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends.
Remember the love! Remember the love! Remember the love!
Measure in love. Seasons of love!
Seasons of love.

So, this Sunday we're doing something I never dreamed of doing on a Sunday morning...a song from RENT. It will be presentational and will set up the sermon. We rehearsed last Sunday and got the arrangement down. It should be fun...and I figure if the apostle Paul can quote the poets of his can we! All to God's glory.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving was awesome! We ate all of our favorites at my mom's house with Katey Earles and Brian Randolph joining us. After lunch we all went to see "Enchanted". It was really cute and the girls loved it. (Except for Ella and the very terrifying dragon at the end)

The last couple of days we've been putting up Christmas. I always love this season. The kids are so fun to watch. We've been in our pajamas for about 2 straight days. I LOVE IT!!

You can tell how unkempt we all look in these pictures but somehow, that makes them even better to me! In fact, Sam went upstairs and ended up putting on his teddy bear's "Build a Bear" Spider Man pants. Hilarious.

Maddie, Ella and Sam in front of the family tree in the living room

Maddie and Ella pose in front of our favorite--the "Santa tree" in the den.

Last night we had Gary and Ellen Musick over for dinner. I am so grateful for their friendship this year. We laughed and told stories and had a fantastic time!

I hope your holiday was good. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I remember vividly about 5 years ago, when Maddie was about 18 months old, taking her to see the Otter Creek Kindergarten Thanksgiving program. It's been a tradition at that school for 30+ years. I still remember her running around in her little ACU cheerleader uniform and thinking that before I knew it she'd be up there performing with the kindergartners.

Yesterday, in some weird time warp, it happened. Our little baby girl who is somehow now 6 years old stood on the stage at the old building and sang those traditional songs. "My paddles keen and bright flashing like silver..."

We were so proud of our sweet pilgrim! She did a great job. They all did! It's amazing to see the difference between the Kindergarten show and her 2 year old show. All the kids worked really hard to memorize the words and have their motions down.

After the program we ate a Thanksgiving meal prepared by the kids and teachers. It was so delicious. Maddie told me she rubbed grease on the turkey and that it was "really disgusting".

We're thankful for our friends--especially Sarah and Ryan Williamson (Sarah is pictured above with her daughter Sydney and our friend Gretchen Link). We also had a wonderful evening with Paul and Jill Young. I still don't think I have gotten over their move two years ago to Atlanta. It was so wonderful getting to spend time with them.

This week I am thankful for so many things. I am thankful that my parents were married 45 years ago tomorrow. I am thankful for my sweet family. And, I am thankful for the friends God has so graciously given me. Praise the Lord and pass the pumpkin pie!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday at Otter Creek was a very busy day. One highlight was the dedication of the new playground. Taft Brown played and led the kids in singing the title song I wrote from TJ McCloud's CD series for Parable Bookstores called "Playground". After several very sweet prayers, the kids were released to play til they dropped.

Sam poses with Ella Masterson

Maddie and Blythe Masterson

Sheryl's father was released from ICU yesterday and was supposed to be able to go home to Sheryl's sister's house tonight. He will have to stay in Houston for at least another week and a half to meet with neurologists and other doctors. As for the cancer one really knows at this point what will happen. Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friday night we celebrated my birthday at Casa Fiesta. Love me some Casa Fiesta! Thanks to Sheryl and friends for the party and the fun.

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a few days. We've had a lot on our plate. Sheryl's father was in the hospital in Houston (MD Anderson) preparing for cancer surgery and suffered a stroke due to the heart catheter. He should be getting out of ICU today. We're not really sure what this means for the cancer surgery. We've just been praying for recovery for him. Please join us in that prayer. His name is Bob.

Blogging is often therapeutic for me. The blogging community (quite large now at Otter Creek and beyond) has been a source of great encouragement. Thank you all! I know that this brave new world is unfamiliar to some and to others seems a huge waste of time. I find it quite enriching and I am grateful for each of you out there. May God bless the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Take, O Lord, and receive
my entire liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess
You have given me: I surrender it all
to You to be disposed of
according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough
and will desire nothing more.
--Saint Ignatius

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Over the last 18 years or so, I've been so blessed to walk with 3 brothers who were my college roommates. You've all met them a million times through my blog. Today is Chris Doggett's birthday (Chris is in the dark shirt standing next to me). As the oldest...waaaaaaay older than the rest of us...(I am talking like 24 whole hours!) I want to pay him homage today!

Chris is a gift to me. His listening ear, compassionate heart for God, hilarious sense of humor, and steadfast friendship are some of the best blessings in my life. I am a better person because of his friendship. Happy birthday, Dog! We love you!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Recent quips from Ella...

Ella: What's God's cell number?

Sheryl: God doesn't need a cell number. He can see and hear us all the time.

Ella: How is it that God can see us and hear us but we can't see Him? That's awesome!

Sheryl: Yes, that's called faith--believing in something we can't see. Do you know what faith means?

Ella: means "God" in Spanish.

killin me!

We're way into preparations for Christmas at OC. We've been rehearsing with the choir, the kids choir is getting ready, the band is preparing and it's going to be a cool night! George Rowe and Jeff Berry will be our special guests. Please make plans to come if you can!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Anyone eating some creamed corn? Hmmm? Cause I sure am. (remember...? Creamed corn...?)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

lunch break post and thoughts...

I was looking back over old posts from several years ago last night. I was struck by some of the comments. I just feel so thankful for this forum where we can share together. Thank you for reading.

I have a few friends who are going through difficult things right now. I know from experience that it's hard to allow people to walk with you when you're in "the valley". But, what a great joy to have friends in those times. I know that right now, watching certain friends walk through valley times, I want to walk with them. In fact, I consider it a joy to share in their burden. Isn't it amazing how hard that is to see when you're the one going through it and you feel guilty about your friends walking with you?

Do you know someone going through difficulty right now? Have you reaffirmed your presence? Sometimes it takes constant reminder. How is God showing you joy in suffering? Have you stopped to take stock of your relationships today?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Some of you know that I have been serving as a vocal director in some of my spare time for Gary Musick Productions who does shows for Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Lines. It has been a complete blast for me and really feeding for me professionally and musically...making me stay on top of my "game". It's been neat to build relationships there and encourage those performers in their craft. I've been so blessed to get to work with so many gifted singers, actors and dancers. The shows range from pop style to Broadway shows like Lion King, Wicked, Hairspray, Les Mis, Phantom, Mama Mia and more. Take a look at a couple of clips by clicking here . These shows are on one of the Celebrity ships.

This past weekend people drove in from as far as Texas, Florida, Kansas and MA to audition for the shows. The other two audition spots this year will be London and Toronto. We had a great turn out. It was so fun hearing so many talented singers and performers!

Sunday morning at Otter Creek we ordained new Elders. It was such a cool morning. Congratulations and prayers go out to Phil, Jerry, and David. We're so glad to have you guys leading us!

Lastly, Sheryl and I arranged today to see a movie (sadly, a rare luxury for us). We saw "Dan In Real Life". LOVED it! I would recommend it. It was a touching movie. Then we came home and Sheryl decided to take off the casing to the back door since we found wood rot...and then it rained as if we were in Old Testament times. Perfect. So...the short of it is...the handyman is coming tomorrow.

Have a great night!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I realize some people have their sensitivities with Halloween...and maybe rightly so. Some have "Harvest parties" some just choose to shut their doors and protest the day all together. It's true that, historically speaking, it's been a night when all kinds of evil has been celebrated. So, redeeming such a holiday is admittedly a challenge. It's with that in mind that I would like to throw out some thoughts.

For folks who prefer to take the Ban Halloween approach....I wonder if you're missing an opportunity. No matter what you call the thing--Halloween, Harvest-time, or the Hokey Pokey, one fact remains. There is really no other time of the year when most of our neighbors come and knock on OUR door. I wonder, instead of putting up stop signs, shouldn't we be making huge welcome signs?

Weeks ago, Maddie's piano teacher (who lives in our neighborhood) and I had a discussion about our neighbors and wanting to reach out. We discussed having a big pumpkin carving contest at the end of our street and inviting all the neighborhood (we only have 20 houses in our subdivision). Her teacher ended up running with it and invited the neighbors over for an open house with all kinds of fall soups and pumpkins for the kids. It was a huge success!

Our neighbors to the right of us are former music biz people with a daughter around Sam's age. We've been really getting to know them this year. Somewhere along the way, they were burned by church. The scars remain...but they are so amazing. We've loved getting to know them. They came over and walked the neighborhood with us last night. Because the ice had been broken and friendships had been started through neighborhood events, there were many long visits at different houses.

Our neighbors from India who live directly across the street (they own 16 Subway restaurants) are around our age and don't have kids, even though they really WANT kids. They've always been so kind to us. When Manisha asked Sheryl if we were coming by that night, they set up a time to make sure they would be home. How nice is that? So, eventually we makde our way to their house. They were both home and invited us in to their beautiful house filled with amazing artwork and artifacts. In the middle of their living room is an intricately etched and painted wooden swing...a traditional piece in India. So nice! As it turns out, Hemanchu and Manisha had prepared snacks and drinks for us. We spent about an hour sitting and laughing with Rick and Stacey (our next door neighbors), and Hemanchu and Manisha. It was an unlikely trio of couples. But we had such a great time and made plans to get together again.

I am convinced we are called to love our neighbors. I think one of the only ways we can truly do that in today's world is to be a real friend. We should open ourselves to sincere friendship with people we might not have much in common with. Maybe you'll find out you have more in common than you think!

We are discovering the beauty of our neighborhood. There are some nice houses, some well kept yards and flower beds, and some nice decorations...but the real beauty of our neighborhood is in our neighbors. We are grateful for the relationships that are deepening there! Thank you, God!

On a lighter note--here are some pictures from the school parties yesterday. Because all three are in school this year, we had to divide and conquer...thanks to my mom. I was with Ella...

Ella and Ansley Brown (daughter of Taft and Kristen Cottier Brown)

Sam and his class came through trick-or-treating. He was so proud of himself!

Yum!!! Frosted cookies are my favorite! I know you're not supposed to take candy out of a baby's hands, but does the same apply for frosted cookies???

Ella's class with her teacher, Miss Amanda