Thursday, January 31, 2008

He's Always Been Faithful

I love this song by Sara Groves...

Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God's hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed,
in awe of the mystery of his perfect ways

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me

I can't remember a trial or a pain
he did not recycle to bring me gain.
I can't remember one single regret
in serving God only and trusting his hand

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song,
the theme of the stories I've heard for so long.
God has been faithful, he will be again.
His loving compassion, it knows no end.

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me
Tom Fettke called Sheryl today to schedule her for a vocal session tomorrow. This is the song he wants her to do... a sweet reminder of God's guidance in our lives right now and reminding us that we're doing the right thing. Not only getting the gig, but singing these words? Coincidence? I don't think so. :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fresno and AA

Our trip to Fresno was wonderful! I enjoyed seeing all of you blog readers there. There were folks from all over CA, MT. MI, WA, OR, TX, etc... it was great to see all of you.

If there were a modern day book of the Bible that talked about hospitality, it would be written about the College Church in Fresno. They have spiritual gifts of encouragement and hospitality and put them to great use. It was so amazing to be with you all.

Amy Westerman didn't get to go because she was sick...and I think she infected us at rehearsal last Wed because we began dropping like flies. Karin, Sheryl, me....yuck.

We had a great time though---in spite of illness. The food was as good as ever. Sheryl and I also got to spend time with Peter and Lindsey Wilson and her parents, Bruce and Taylor Morgan. What amazing people they are! They've become some of our favorite people of all time.

We were abruptly interrupted during church with news that our flight had been cancelled. (technical difficulties) We were all rushed to the airport in hopes of getting it worked out. (Many of us have kids and jobs we had to get back to!) We then entered what I would call travel hell. For the next 13 hours we would be bouncing hither and yon all in an effort to get home. Fresno, LA, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville....who can keep up? We were separated by necessity which left Jason, Sheryl and I traveling in one group and everyone else in another. It was madness. After yesterday I wouldn't rank AA high in customer service. Although, they did somehow manage to get my bag to Nashville...that was miraculous.

Jason, Sheryl and I left the airport about 1:30am this morning. The rest of the group was stuck in LA. Their flight was delayed and they missed the connection where we would have joined together. They are supposed to get in about 6pm tonight. Crazy.

But, in spite of travel woes, it couldn't spoil the beauty of our weekend. Thanks again to all who gave so much of themselves to welcome us to Fresno. You are an amazing group of people!

And...we could NOT have even considered going this weekend if it were not for the help of our wonderful friends and family in Nashville who took care of the kids. Thank you Kevin and Kiki!! Thanks, Sarah, Lauren and Elizabeth! We love you.

In other news... the Summit cast arrived yesterday and had orientation today. Most of them are veterans. This should be a fantastic group!

Have a great week, friends!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Tie that Binds

About 7 years ago I came close to accepting a job at Provident (Zomba) as a song plugger. Truth be known, I just wanted to work with Marty W. He was VP of Publishing. Since then we've stayed connected through prayer and email. Today we had coffee at Fido (the coolest coffee shop ever). I was struck with God's presence in our meeting. True brotherhood. I left feeling so blessed by that friendship.

Tonight Jeff Berry and his kids came over to watch American Idol with us. It's another reminder that friendship is one of God's most perfect gifts. Jeff and I have known each other our whole lives. Now he and Anna and their lovely family live in Nashville. Some days I still think it's too good to be true.

In about two days we will leave for Fresno. We will go out to lead worship and sing, but again, truth be's a family reunion. I am already anticipating the fellowship. I can't wait!

By the job at Gary Musick Productions is going well. Everyone there is so nice and patient as I am learning the ropes. Today I worked all day on the American Heart Association's "Heart Gala 2008". It will be a black tie event at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center in a couple of weeks. Until then, Gary is doing events in Canada and then Dallas. We're holding down the fort for ya, Gary! Hurry back!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spiritual Perspective

Over the last 12-13 years one couple has been a major influence in our lives. Quietly, Doug and Nan Smith have invested Spiritual pearls into our hearts. They have nurtured, encouraged, and loved us in ways we could never repay. Last night we got to sit and share dinner with them in their new home. They recently sold the Minnie Pearl mansion where they had lived for 8 years or so and bought the home next door--simplifying a bit. It fit them perfectly.

They are prayerful people. I have seen them seek the Lord and wait on Him many times. He has shown His glory through them.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer too. This morning we studied the prayer in chapter one. Nehemiah faced his reality, recognized God for who He is, recognized how God saw him and confessed his sins, took hold of the promise of God, and asked in faith for what he needed. It is a great model of prayer.

The story of Nehemiah is about renewal and God's movement. It's a tremendous reminder to us right now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good Friends

Tonight we went over to Karin and Blake Hensley's house for a farewell party with a gathering of friends from Otter Creek. It was so nice. I got so carried away with visiting and catching up with people that I forgot to take pictures!!! Ha! I did manage to snap a few at the end.

Carrie and Justin Mundie, Zane and Jodi Williams and me

Brad and Dawn Crisler and Sheryl and me

Scott and Amy Westerman, Karin and Blake Hensley, Sheryl and me (part of our ZOE family)

It was such a wonderful night. Thank you, Amy and Karin! (and Blake!) Our kids had such a blast too getting to see their friends.

Thank you to everyone for coming and for your sweet gifts. We feel so blessed and overwhelmed. Thank you!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm A Lucky Man

There's a country song out right now that says...

Got supper in the oven,
A good woman's lovin,
And one more day to be my little kids' dad.
Lord knows I'm a lucky man!

Yes, I admit it...I listen to country music. I used to detest it until I was cast in a "Young Country" show at Six Flags Over Texas years ago (not so young anymore...). I began to really enjoy the new country sound. Now I love groups like "Little Big Town" and others.

The lyric above is clearly country. All that's missing is a verse about a train and a John Deer tractor...and maybe a dog But, it describes me right now. I am blessed. Nothing good I have or am comes from me--every good and perfect gift is from the Lord. I am so grateful!

We are working hard on several events here right now. The American Heart Association's Heart Gala is here in a couple of weeks. After that I go to Atlanta to help with an event there. The event happens on the Chinese New Year weekend so we have all kinds of fun stuff planned...thanks to Gary's genius. There will be giant 8ft Chinese lanterns adorning the stage and set around the ballroom. There will be Asian drummers--one on stage and one at the back of the room--answering each other with antiphonal rhythms. Then as the drummer at the back walks in, he leads a large Chinese dragon in (with 10 performers inside) that winds around the room. Should be cool! We are also planning a Broadway style number that morning so I am working on getting that cast and produced.

But before any of that comes ZOE Fresno. I am so thoroughly pumped to see people. Fresno is always one of my favorite ZOE trips. The people at College Church are some of the best you could find anywhere. I really can't wait to see you guys...and of course be reunited with Sandra and Lex, and Peter and Lindsey!

This Friday night Amy Westerman and Karin Hensley are throwing a little shindig for us as kind of a farewell from the worship ministry at OC. We are both really looking forward to seeing people and catching up.

Meanwhile, my life is filled with blessings. My wife loves and supports me. My kids love lavishing me with hugs and kisses. I have friends who would walk the extra mile with and for me. We're blessed by our extended families. AND--God loves me and tells me His mercy renews every morning. What could be better?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Midland, TX

I had an amazing trip last weekend to the West Texas desert. Sometimes in the desert you end up finding and oasis. That's exactly what I found at Golf Course Rd. I was excited to see Tod and LeeAnn (and Bailey, Hutton and Reagan). I knew my time with them would be renewing and refilling. I knew it would be nice seeing old friends and catching up. I anticipated the worship time being a blast with Kevin and Iris. I just didn't know how much of a blessing the weekend would end up being.

From start to finish, the Browns, Riggs, Whites and others showed me the most amazing hospitality. I felt so encouraged and blessed by getting to be with them. I got to eat some AWESOME Mexican food and one of the best steaks I've ever had. But the real food came Spiritually. That church family blessed me richly by pouing into my life last weekend. It was such a wonderful and suprising gift.

Saturday I met with their worship teams and we did some work together. Sunday I led worship for both servces and then that afternoon did a praise time in their new rotunda (or as they like to joke..."rotundra"). That worship time was really amazing. The acoustics are out of this world, yes. But-the Spirit showed up that afternoon. Wow. I am still floating from the experience.

I am so grateful to all of the Browns for their warmth and hospitality. They were all such a blessing.

Meanwhile, back in Nashville, things are crazy. Some of the staff left today for the London auditions. We've been working like crazy to get contracts out to singers and dancers and all before the real busy time hits in two weeks when the rehearsal process begins for our first Spring ship.

I hope you're all doing well...and if you're reading from Midland/Odessa, thanks again for being such a blessing!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What Can "Brown" Do For You?

Tomorrow I have an all day company meeting where we will talk about upcoming projects this year. There are a lot of things coming. It will help us all know how to help each other.

Today we auditioned a couple of people for ships. They did well. It was a frstrating day after spending 3 hours at a Sprint store (actually TWO Spring stores). Bless them. It must really be rocket science because I don't know many other things that seem so hard as changing out a cell phone. I have to say, it's one of my least favorite places to go.

Tomorrow afternoon I fly to Midland, TX. I'll be staying with Tod and LeeAnn Brown and their family. LeeAnn is Stephen's sister (and if you don't know who Stephen is, you either don't read this blog often or don't know me very well! :)) It will be the first time I've been to Midland since I was there last summer for Connor's funeral (Tod and LeeAnn's son who was killed tragically in an auto accident.) It will be good to see them in person and look into their eyes and see how they're doing.

But, truth be known, even in painful times the Browns are life-giving people. Tod has been a hero of mine for years and LeeAnn is a big sister to me. I just really can't wait to see them as well as Alan and Holly Brown, Tricia and Ben Wall, the Bracks, Marc, and so many others.

Hope to see some of you in Midland! ( comin?)

Monday, January 07, 2008

A New Chapter

Today I began my new job at the Gary Musick Company. It's the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Gary sent a really nice email out to the company yesterday. Here's a section of it which explains some of my job...

I am pleased to announce that Brandon Thomas will be joining our staff as an
Associate Producer. Most of you know Brandon from his vocal direction work with
our cruise ship casts over the past year. He will initially be assisting us with
the NCL side of cruise ship casting and contracting, and will continue to work
with the some of the casts as vocal director. He will also be assisting the
producers with overlapping projects and will ultimately be developing his own
clients, particularly in the entertainment, cruise, and special events areas of
our business.
Thank you to Gary and to all the wonderful people at Gary Musick Productions for making my first day so good!

Today was full. The first event I'll be helping with is the American Heart Association's Heart Gala at the Schermerhorn coming up in February. Meanwhile, casting is still being completed for the Spring and we're getting ready for the Celebrity Summit cast which arrives in a couple of weeks. My first cast will be NCL's "Spirit". They arrive at the beginning of February.

For more information and video downloads from GMC, check out the website... Gary Musick Productions.

It is a huge change. My days will look different. However, the opportunity to be Light in a new way is very exciting. I will continue with ZOE. I am also excited about that because I think there will be some renewal this year.

Thank you for your prayers and for your support as we launch into this new phase!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Little Chefs

Ella's birthday began with a family celebration on Friday. She didn't want a birthday cake (is this my child???). Instead she asked for "pupcakes" (cupcakes).

In her usual manner, Sheryl's genius was evident again today at Ella's birthday party. We did our own version of the "Little Chef" party. Sheryl made the chef hats and aprons. Each child rolled dough, spread tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni for their pizza and baked them in the oven.

After a viewing of Ratatouille, we took an intermission to make little cakes and
ice cream sundaes.

Emma, Hannah and Ella

Sydney, Jack, Emma, Ella and Maddie

The chefs are ready to cook!

Even Sam got in on the action!

FIVE candles!!

It was a great day. This morning we heard an intro to a series on Nehemiah that began with an overview of Ezra. It was almost tailor-made to where we are. What a blessing! Worship was awesome too!

Tonight we had dinner at Jeff and Anna Berry's. They are like family. What a gift! It doesn't get better than 4 friends on their knees together.

Tomorrow I begin my NEW JOB!! I will share more details tomorrow. God is so good.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

ABBA and Holiday Visits

I meant to post this earlier. Last week we enjoyed a nice visit from Kyle and Camille Dickson. Colin and Chloe have gotten so old! Our kids loved having them here and getting to play with them.

As is a picture in our ABBA wear from last night. We sang at F. Scott's in Nashville for a music biz guy's birthday party who is a die hard ABBA fan. It was hilarious. And...we were so neon, I am pretty sure you could see us from outer space. Pictured here with us is Denise Hoey (long time singer for Gary's company) and Adam Bastien. Adam will be going out on a Celebrity ship this Spring.

Last night Paul and Jill Young and their kids stayed with us on their way back to Atlanta. We still miss them terribly since their move a couple of years ago. It was so wonderful getting to talk and laugh with them.

Today is Stephen Bailey's birthday...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Stevie B! We love and miss you. Hope you're celebrating it right.

Tomorrow is Ella's "cooking party". Pray our house doesn't burn down! :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Today is Ella's 5th birthday! Happy Birthday, Ella!!!

She came into this world in a big way making her presence known and nothing has really changed since. She has a laugh that is entirely contagious. She loves taking care of everyone around her. She has always had a sense of humor that was beyond her years. She loves to pray and somehow she has this ability to comprehend spiritual matters on a deeper level. I am always amazed at the kinds of things she asks.

This morning the entire family went to Cracker Barrel for pancakes and then we went swimming at the indoor pool at the YMCA.

Ella, I can't believe you're FIVE!! You bring so much joy to my life! I praise God for creating you--you are wonderfully made!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I will be traveling back to West Texas a week from tomorrow...Midland, that is! I'll be doing a Praise team seminar for Golf Course Road that weekend and leading worship on Sunday morning. I hope to see some of you there.

I am most excited about seeing Tod and LeeAnn Brown...actually the entire Brown family! This last year has been such a trial for all of them after losing Connor tragically. I can't wait to sit with them and learn from their experiences. Their hearts are so amazing.

Today I am going to be sifting through the costume closet at Gary Musick's. A music exec is having a birthday party tomorrow night and they hired us to do a short set of ABBA music. LOVIN IT!!! So, Sheryl and I are singing with 2 others who have done ship work for Gary. "Take a Chance on Me", "Dancin' Queen", "Waterloo", and "Mama Mia". Plus we are wearing some fine...FINE garments. Be assured...there will be pictures.

Happy New Year, blog family!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I remember wondering what life would be like in 2008. I was a senior in high school and about to graduate. I was wondering because 2008 was 20 years in the future. It was 1988 in Abilene, TX. I had no idea what the next 20 years would bring.

Over the last 20 years I have lost many people I love, but I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I met my wife and my three children were brought into the world! I have experienced so many things. The one constant theme has been God's faithfulness.

As we rang in the New Year last night with friends and then spent today at my mom's, I have been reminded again...God IS faithful. I have no idea what 2008 will bring, but I am diving into the deep end knowing "He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion". Praise God!

Happy New Year, friends!