Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 08

I haven't decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing, or just a thing.  A passage of time thing.

First year in many that I didn't walk around the neighborhood.  The first wave went out from our house - the 16-year old Spice Girl with her un-costumed boyfriend and un-costumed best friend.  They went to one house and came home.  I think she was making one last stab at her childhood, wearing six-inch stillettos.  The 17-year old made no effort; she was taking a nap.

The second wave was 12-year-old boy as Tom Morello with nine-year old-brother as a cross between a pirate and an ex-con (thanks, Bill and Pat!), along with 16-year old family friend Robert as a punk kid, 14-year-old Sydni as a punk kid, 16-year-old Dylan as a "Hippo Lover" (don't ask; I never did figure it out...)

That was it.

When they hit double digits, it's just not the same.

I stayed home, handed out candy, and thought about my future grandkids.

Quite Simply, "Yes"

Marc Chewning, Robert Moroney, Elijah Schiarelli, Joseph Freeman, Andrew Basic

Last summer a team of students and adult sponsors went to Cherokee, North Carolina for a week of work projects and mission work.  Like most trips of this nature, those who went came back with much more than sore muscles and finished projects.  God dealt with people and, in one particular case, infected a group of five young men in an unbelieveable way.

Marc Chewning returned from Cherokee knowing that he wanted to do more to help others know and understand the love of God.  Shortly after arriving back home in Powhatan, he was mowing the grass.  A bird skeleton was lying in the yard; he noticed it and thought to himself, "That's gross."  He passed the skeleton again and was suddenly impacted by a powerful thought.

"How many times do we do that same thing with people?  Notice, think "that's gross", and turn and walk away..."

Marc couldn't shake the thought of hurt and broken people who were ignored and left in need, often by those who claim to follow Jesus and his command to "love your neighbor as yourself."

After a flurry of communication with some of his partners from the Cherokee mission trip, Marc felt certain that God was speaking, and clearly calling them to go.  They weren't sure where they were to go, but the compulsion to act was undeniable.

With the strength of their conviction and the boldness that comes from an encounter with God, these five guys starting moving.  In spite of the fact that they weren't sure exactly what was ahead, they unashamedly began to declare that God had called them, and they starting looking for the next step.

Their journey led them to the front steps of the International Mission Board in Richmond (in spite of several wrong turns and a brief period of being lost), where they simply walked through the door and made themselves available.  They were warmly received and graciously encouraged, and it was there that they received clarification as to the path before them.

Marc Chewning, Elijah Schiarelli, Joseph Freeman and Andrew Basic are going to spend their Christmas break in China.  They will work within the specific guidelines of a Mission Board project, but what they will do is not as important as the fact that God spoke, and they said, quite simply, "Yes."

In response to the need for an adult chaperone, David Samuel also said "Yes", and he will join them.  Robert Moroney will be unable to travel to China, but he said, "Yes" to the call to support those on the journey from home.

This trip is not inexpensive.  Part of saying, "Yes" includes a committment to raise funds for travel.  There are other basic expenses for the journey.

This is where we can help.  Quite simply, say "Yes" to the opportunity to support this team financially and with prayer.  There are a few specific upcoming opportunities:

  • China Mission Carwash at Brusters on Saturday, November 1st, 9:00 - 1:00.  This is a great time to actually meet these young men - and let them wash your cars!
  • China Mission Day at Allen's Chinese Restaurant.  Tell the cashier that you are dining out to support the China Mission Trip, and they will donate part of your check total to help support the trip.
  • China Mission Ice Cream.  Bring your church program or bulletin (PCC or any other church!) to Brusters on Sunday, November 2 and Sunday, November 9.  Buy ice cream and give the cashier your church program.  In return, Brusters will donate $1 to the China Mission Fund!
These minor opportunities add up and can make a tremendous impact on the efforts of these young men to make this journey.  If you are unable to participate in this way, feel free to simply write a check and mail it to China Mission Trip, Powhatan Community Church, P.O. Box 834, Powhatan, VA 23139.  Every contribution makes a difference.

We are excited about the privilege of partnering with these young men who heard a huge challenge from God and said, quite simply, "Yes."

Will you?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Curious...For A Reason...

What would you do...

...if you had only thirty days to do it?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

La Sarah

There's a new blogger on the block.

Check her out here.

Sunday Setlist 10.26.08

I haven't played Sunday Set List for a few weeks now; things caught up with me, and the past few Sunday afternoons required a nap instead of a recap.

But I'm back!  Briefly, we are still in our 'Awaken' series, going through the book of James.  Today we looked at a challenge in the fifth chapter:

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter."  James 5.1-5

All To You - Lincoln Brewster.  Just can't get enough of Lincoln.
Thank You, Lord - Paul Baloche.  Yee haw!
Video - scenes and sound bites from our ImpACT project last week, where he blitzed about 12 homes in a focused effort to help a neighborhood in our community.
Lifesong - Casting Crowns.  We sequed out of the video to this - the song said all that needed to be said.
When You Gonna Wake Up - Old Bob Dylan tune that really gets in your face about social justice and our sleepy ignorance.  I got to sing this one, which was a treat, and we had HORNS!  YES!  Three pieces of brass that made all the difference in the world.

Within Brian's message, I wheeled out a cart full of fair trade items that I found in the Richmond area - coffee, sugar, tea, chocolate, etc., and I shared a bit about what I felt like I could do - as a mom and a consumer - to honor the spirit of James' challenge in this scripture (which is, basically, to purchase fair trade items when I can find them).  We found some great stuff at Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's, and I also had a few items from Ten Thousand Villages.  It was practical and tangible, although it felt like a very different sort of service for us.  We learned a lot about Fair Trade practices, and we informed a lot of folks about something that they'd never thought of before - especially in light of the biblical mandate to do so.

We closed with Give Me Your Eyes and watched Patrick continue to grow spiritually and musically in amazing ways, as he sang and played this song with just the right amount of passion and precision.  

It was a cool day.  Very interesting, especially in this time of political labeling.  I have to confess that I always tossed 'social justice causes' in the box marked 'liberal theology'.  You know, the Unitarians and the Methodists could handle that end of the gospel; we evangelical folks will focus on getting them saved.  I am so thankful that God has kicked my ignorant butt and shown me something important through this scripture.  There is much being done; there is much to do.  And we are ALL called to do it.

If you buy fair trade stuff, what do you buy?  And where do you get it?

*songs are linked to iTunes
*This is part of Fred McKinnon's carnival.  Fred is so cool....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Latching On To Who You'd Like To Be

My brother is an artist, in the truest sense of the word.  The best and worst of him flows out of the rawness of his continual search for truth, the pursuit of a high melodic calling that clings to his soul and refuses to let go.  His faith informs everything about him with an authenticity that is as questioning and doubtful as often as it is passionate and reverent.  I am prouder of him than anyone else I know.  I love him fiercely, in the manner of love that an older sister carries for her little brother for a lifetime. 

He wrote some stunning prose on his blog this week that moved me, inspired me, and challenged me to think about music and art and worship and composition and even race in a new and unique way.  Here's a snippet:

The acoustic guitars thump and sing, fat and gray in the company of angelic harmonies and archetypal melodies. We all know this music. It is written in the celtic, anglo-saxon souls of Caucasians. We have strayed and betrayed ourselves, attempting to leverage ourselves into the gladiatorial arenas of hip-hop and "modern" music, but we need to face it.

We are mountain people. Even the most mixed breed of us is stuck with the pipes and the drums from the highlands, pounding wild and distant in our hearts. The grouse and heather cling to our thighs as we run, as we flail to flee our past.

Emmylou, and artists like her bring those pasts back to confront our empty, unanchored eyes. We have drifted, for we have forgotten who we are, and when you can’t remember who you are, it’s even more difficult to latch on to who you’d like to be. It recedes in the distance, fleeing your reaching, outstretched hand.

You can read the rest of this post here.  When you do, say 'hi' for me.  And tell him I'm proud of him.

Friday, October 24, 2008


If you read nothing else today, please read this post.

Danielle is one of my all-time favorite writers.  Her blog offers a unique glimpse into the life of doctors and hospital personnel.  

Reading her blog changed my life.

Reading this post broke my heart.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Perfect Music For An October Morning

Many years ago, Amy Grant recorded "If These Walls Could Speak" on Lead Me On.  I was captivated by the tune, and later discovered - to my pleasure - that the composer was the same guy who wrote "All I Know", which I had discovered in the 70's when I heard Art Garfunkel.

Then I discovered - to my surprise - that the same composer wrote "Galveston", that anthemic tribute to the Texas gulf made wildly popular by Glen Campbell.  

Speaking of Glen Campbell, the same composer wrote "Wichita Lineman".

Then I discovered - to my shock - that the same composer wrote "Macarthur Park".  Yes, the 'someone-left-a-cake-out-in-the-rain', seven minute flurry of string climaxes and key changes.  Richard Harris.  Then Donna Summer.  Bad memories, anyone?

That was Jimmy Webb.

Let me say this:  put aside your preconceived notions of any of the afore-mentioned songs, and give this collection a try.  Jimmy Webb is one of the most profoundly perfect singer-songwriter's I've ever heard, and this cd showcases the strength of the lyrics and melodies under the gentle hands of their creator.

Good stuff.

*Interesting note, for those of you old enough to have heard 'Macarthur Park'; that song was originally written as part of a cantata.  Hmmm... It has been covered over fifty times, by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Frank Sinatra, The Three Degrees and the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corp.  When Richard Harris recorded it, he kept singing 'Macarthur's Park' - an incorrect possessive form.  Webb tried to correct him through several re-takes and finally just gave up.

(ain't wikipedia grand?)


I read this tonight and found it quite thought-provoking.

"When you hear "Repent for your past", realize it's a great religious distraction from waking up.  Wake up!  That's what repent means.  Not "weep for your sins."  Wake up!  Stop all the crying.  Understand!  Wake up!" - Anthony De Mello, Jesuit priest and author

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thank You, John Ivins

I got to sit in with this band tonight for a worship event. 

It's been a long time since I got to play, just play, for fun.  I didn't even realize the extent of the 'leader mode' I go into when we do worship music - even on Sunday mornings, when I am, arguably, completely comfortable and in the 'worship zone', as my friend Steve used to say.

Tonight, the responsibility was on somebody else's head.  I got to follow, play along, and sing my heart out.  As long as I knew what key we were in, I was good.

And it was so. much. fun.

Didn't hurt that the other guys on the platform were top-notch players.  Solid musicians, every one, and great guys.  They knew their stuff.

Tonight was incredibly refreshing.

Thus ends the five days that I could not comprehend getting through.  

Me?  I'm blessed.

The Epitome Of Cool

What is it with this family and all the modeling?  Is this what you get when one of the kids has a camera attached to her hand at all times?

They attached a fake earring to Daniel for this picture, and they - meaning the siblings - meaning the GIRLS, actually - think it looks so incredibly cool that they are now begging to have Daniel's ear pierced.

Let's be clear:  the girls want to get Daniel's ear pierced.

He has not yet weighed in with his opinion on the matter.

A Day Off

Taking a day off today.

No, really.

Okay, well...sort of.  I do have to work tonight, playing for an associational event.  And that means I have to go pick up gear and do set up and sound check and all that.  It'll be a four or five hour investment.

Some other week, that four or five hours would simply top off my normal workday.

But not this week.  I'm learning to be just a bit more self-protective, recognizing that the world will continue to spin whether or not I frenetically struggle through the day.

So I'm letting go.  I'm staying home and doing some much-needed housecleaning/keeping/organization.  Some of this is absolutely necessary; the weather has finally turned chilly, and we're still pulling out shorts and t-shirts.  Time to climb up into the attic and sort through the winter clothes.

Some of it is just a search for peace.  I need some quiet stillness, some moments alone with God.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to text my boss and say, "I need a day off" without fear of repercussion or recrimination.

So off I go, into my day-at-home.  Of course, I have a sick kid upstairs in my bed (David stayed home yesterday, today it's Sydni; general malaise, coughing, headache), which keeps me in "mother mode".  But that's okay.  I can handle that...

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Sitting before a hot cup of coffee. Exhausted, as usual. But...

I am so proud of my church. We worked today, another ImpACT project. See the paint on my hands? I was privileged to work all afternoon.

We went in two waves - one after 9:30 service, one after 11:00.

We blanketed Bell Road and the Powhatan Lakes neighborhood.

Twelve houses had agreed to participate.

We put all new windows in a home that had nothing but tarps over cracked and broken glass.

We painted entire houses.

We rebuilt decks.

Replaced toilets.

Pressure washed siding.


Spread mulch.

Removed trees and stumps.

Among other things....

And we met some awesome people.

At the house where I worked all day, the homeowner - Freddy - was a great and friendly guy. He told me that some of his neighbors scoffed at him. "Nobody does something for nothin' ", they said.

He hugged me. "But I'm going back to tell them it's true. Thank you so much."

We helped people who could not help themselves with tasks that seemed insurrmountable in their eyes.

But nothing is impossible with God.

I feel a little like Michelle Obama, when she said, "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country." I have been part of church after church since I became a Christ-follower. For the first time in my life, I'm part of a church that puts its money - and its sweat and blood and time and effort - where its mouth is. I'm part of a movement - a community - that values and honors the basic human dignity in every man and woman more than it does church attendance and offerings.

I am so proud of my church. I am so honored to be part of God's kingdom. I am so thankful for my friends and fellow believers.

I am filled with gratitude.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I cracked Shannon's laptop open this afternoon to do a bit of work on her machine and discovered this amusing picture as her desktop wallpaper. Last week during the homecoming festivities, Shannon signed up on play Powder Puff football. Her siblings organized a core of suppporters who showed up willing to a) bare their midriffs and b) paint a letter on said midriff. I saw them all getting ready, even drove them around and helped get them organized - but I didn't get the full effect of the 'cheer' until I saw this picture.

Just in case you need assistance, that's brother as the'H', sister as the 'a', other sister as the 'O' and baby brother as the exclamation point.

That's some spirit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Photographer In Action

She takes all the pictures.  She discourages me from using my "piece of junk camera".  She is a bit of a camera snob, firing away with her Canon digital in one hand and the Nikon 35mm in the other.

But she's good.  She knows what she's talking about.

And she is cool, to the nth degree.

And I snapped a few shots of her when she wasn't looking.

An Applicious Day

We went to Carter Mountain Orchard today.  A 60 minute drive to Charlottesville produced some great conversation - included some heated political debate and discussion.

The weather was perfect - absolutely beautiful.  Virginia in the fall is spectacular.  

We haven't been on the road much - at least not like we used to, when we made monthly jaunts to Ohio or West Virginia to see Lonnie.  As hard as it seemed at the time, we realize now how much we miss the opportunity for frequent road trips.  Listening to music, reading and napping, having sometimes-intense conversations - it's all part of the fun.  I'm really thankful for a day off and an opportunity to see the countryside.

And pick apples.

Sarah took about 487 pictures.  Here are a few.
The leaves were beautiful; they are just beginning to turn.  Sarah caught a great shot of gold here...

Big Red!  This car has been such a workhorse; close to 200,000 miles and still trucking!  

Syd was literally hanging out the car window as we drove down the mountain.  Sarah encouraged her every step of the way...anything for a photo!

Ah, my girls....

Foraging for fruit...we were lazy pickers, but we ended up with a bag full.
My youngest daughter....

David is never very interested in posing.  But he liked the pumpkins.  We brought one home - all 30 pounds...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brawley Boy And Best Friend

"Mom, can we 
hot day?"

Brawley Girls

It's homecoming week.  There's been a lot of energy, wild dressing and craziness.  Not sure if anything productive has happened at school, but they sure have had a great time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

FREE Worship Music!!!

My kids have mentioned Phil Wickham's name a few times, and I'm finally catching up.  He's writing some good worship music for the church. 

What's most exciting to me is a recording called 'Singalong'.  It's simple - just Phil, a guitar and a crowd of people worshiping God.

Oh, and yeah, there's this:  IT'S FREE.

Worship music impacts my spiritual life in a powerful way.  How about you?

To get the FREE - yes, FREE! - download of 'Singalong', click here and follow the directions.  They won't spam you, harrass you or annoy you - just give them your email address and be blessed by this gift.  And give a good listen to 'Cannons'; if you are at PCC, you'll be hearing that one on Sunday morning in the very near future.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesdays Are Long Days

Wednesdays are long days for me.  It usually begins with my personal challenges - getting five kids out the door for school, which is no easy feat.  Especially today, when one car is in the shop and two of the girls have to be at the high school early (which means ALL of the girls have to be there early, which - in itself - is on par with hell freezing over, if you know what I mean.  Three teenaged girls do NOT get ready for school quickly.)  We also made a run to my mom's house before 8:00 AM to pick up a golf ball and tee for a school project, along with a homecoming dress.  David and I left there to get gas, coffee for me and a donut for him - then on to the county recycling center to sort through the stuff loaded in the back of the Suburban.  After depositing David at school, I parked for 30 minutes at the County Seat for Bible study and some eggs.

Staff meeting was next on the list.  Depending on the agenda, these meetings last anywhere from two to six hours.  Today, it was five hours.  Very productive and even enjoyable - but long.  Once school is out, I begin the juggling and shuttling of kids to bible study, play practice, etc.  Today I drove up and down the road for over three hours.  Straight.  I fell asleep in the parking lot waiting for Shannon to finish taking picture of the cross country runners for journalism...

Rehearsal for Sunday's music is always on Wednesday night, and - depending on programming - that lasts anywhere from two to four hours.

Heading home, it's usually time for a run to the grocery store; inevitably we're out of milk on Wednesday night.  Tonight, I picked up milk and strawberries - per David's request.

It makes for a long day.

And it's tiring.

But it's also the best day of the week.   It ends in prayer and worship as we prep music for Sunday.  It's completely humbling, as I have to lean on others for help and assitance in getting kids home, in realizing how impossible it is for me to be all things to all people.  Rehearsal reminds me that we are just a bunch of folks who love to play music, getting together trying to create something of worth that will bless His heart.  I come home completely exhausted - and yet completely filled.

Tonight all of the musicians and sound guys walked down the muddy hill from our office trailer to check out the state of our eventual first home for PCC.   Pipes are sticking up out of the ground; footers are poured, and the back wall is partially up.  We crawled over the pilies of gravel (concrete being poured very soon!) and stood on what will be the stage to envision what the future holds.

We prayed.  For all that lies ahead, for all that burdens us, for our fears and anxiety, for our joy in the Lord - we prayed.

Wednesdays are good.
Don't miss church on Sunday - we're ready with some great music!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I've Made Up My Mind

I found myself more irritated by the debate than anything else.  Rudeness is a pet peeve of mine, and I don't care how passionate you are about your plans, your viewpoint, your intentions - you should NOT be rude, disrespectful, dismissive or discourteous.  It diminishes a man, if you ask me.  You can be firm with your opinions or decisions - but do not denigrate other people.  Be nice.  Firm, but nice.

So, I have come to a conclusion.

I'm going to write in Tom Brokaw for president.  And just for grins, I'm throwing in Katie Couric for VP.

To Be Loved...

Pete Wilson is a pastor in Nashville, a husband and a father.

And a very honest blogger.

If you've ever wrestled with the debilitating desire to be loved, to be accepted at any cost, to find your value in others' opinions (hey - I KNOW who you are!), you will be encouraged and perhaps challenged by this post.  Here's just a snippet of Pete's honest confession of his struggle:

I would ignore the sincere compliments of others to be obsessed with the few critics.
I would abandon my boundaries and go above and beyond to "help" someone while ignoring my family. (ouch!)
I would put off the tough leadership decisions trying to keep all sides content.

Check out Pete's blog - click here.

You're welcome.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday Setlist 10.5.08

Sunday was a great day.  We didn't plan a lot of bells and whistles, just a service focused on doing rather than just believing.  The old faith versus works argument, as we make our way through James...

Let the Praises Ring - Lincoln Brewster.  Even as we opened with the song, I found myself thinking, "Hmm...we do this song a lot."  We do.  
I Have A Hope - Tommy Walker.  His new album is full of great, singable worship songs.  This is one of the best.  Awesome declaration of who we are in Christ.
This Is Not This - AMAZING, relevant, timely video from Floodgate Productions via Worship House Media.  And they gave it away this week.  It addressed, with very timely language, the current economic challenges - and contrasted those issues with the cross.  During second service, it drew applause.  Very powerful, and kudos to Worship House and Floodgate for creating material that really works, on a real-time basis, for the local church.

Our pastor gave us a quick verbal transition from the video to the next worship song; Kevin began to sing "I trust in You...I trust in You..." over the piano, and we slowly moved into the next song.

Healer - Mike Gugliamucci.  Powerful.  My daughter said, "I think about so many different things when I hear that song; it's awesome..."  It was a strong declaration of faith yesterday.  (See further thoughts on this song here.)

I made a few welcoming comments and announced the grand total from the auction we held for the building fund ($14,000 - woo hoo!) and prayed for the offering.

Ready Now - Jared Anderson.  Great song of commitment.

The message was excellent and full of power, a strong exhortation to do something, coupled with an exploration of the tension between 'salvation through faith alone' and 'show me your deeds and I'll show you my faith'.  At the end, we showed a video of our IMPACT project last summer, when we literally 'did something' by blitzing the community with home projects.  We're doing it again in a few weeks.

We played the chorus of "I Have A Hope" as the walk-out.

It was a good, good day.  How about yours?  What did YOU think?

*This post is part of the Sunday Setlist Carnival over at Fred McKinnon's place...

Things For Which I Am Thankful

1.  Cafe Caturra, and their willingness to give their employees (including my daughter) free coffee beans.

2.  Comet.  It works.

3.  Mandolins, and people who know how to play them.

4.  B minor 9th chords.  I just love 'em.

5.  Peter Pan no-sugar-added peanut butter.

6.  Hope.

7.  Sleeping with the windows open.

8.  Powhatan Community Church.

9.  Matt Lauer (not a thing, but there you go).

10.  My kids.  Every last one of them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today Is The Day

Seems to be a good week for reviews.  

Lincoln Brewster is a stunning guitar player.  He crafted some terrific worship music with his first record.  Frankly, my hopes were not too high for this effort; honestly, I figured he could never outdo his current group of outstanding songs, several of which have earned their way into a steady rotation at our church.  I expected some stellar guitar work - and it's there, in spades - but I felt a bit cynical about the freshness of any new songs he might bring. 

Boy, was I wrong.

This cd is excellent.  Outstanding.  Invigorating, make-you-wanna-dance, get up and shout praise and worship.  From the bones of the songs themselves to the execution and production.  Excellence in musicianship in a way that truly inspires. 

And makes me wanna dance!

Want to make your heart happy?  Go buy this record, right now.

Click here.  Or go to iTunes.  Whatever.  Just get it.

And have a good time, boys and girls.