Saturday, February 28, 2009

"It Is Written"

Today I took Shannon on a mommy/daughter date and saw "Slumdog Millionaire".


Took me by surprise; I had heard that it was a 'love story', and that therein was the appeal.  So I expected the girl + boy story to be the focal point.  But that aspect seemed almost secondary; the love story was as much about brothers and friends as the romance you might expect to find in a popular two hour film.  The relationship between the brothers was powerful.  And powerful may be a rather anemic word.  I was completely captivated.

Sarah went to see it later today with friends and Twittered afterward, "I am paralyzed."  I think that's a good word for it.  

It's not unusual for me to enjoy a movie and encourage other people to go see it.  But there was something so visceral about this deeply compels me to want to insist  that everyone in the universe go to see it.  

Reflecting on it a bit, I'm really not quite sure what the appeal is.  Perhaps, more than anything, my western, American, comfortable heart was shattered by the vivid depictions of life in the slums of India.  And because the poverty, the filth, the unbelievably desperate conditions were barely nodded at - simply a part of a very real, authentic story - the impact of how two brothers grew up in Mumbai is driven home with a fierce and desperate power.  It is inescapable.

I was so moved, on so many levels.  It was way beyond what I expected.  It is a movie I want to watch again and again and again.

I suggest you catch it in a theatre, where you can be transported to Mumbai and experience the intensity of this film in the dark.  Because, in spite of the setting of the story, it's a tale of the triumph of human spirit, and love, and right.  In the midst of the mess, it truly is a happy story.  And I think maybe that's what resonates most of all, what my occupied spirit completely understands.  

In the midst of great brokeness, there is true joy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Love Me A Little Sleepy Scott Gordon

Here's a glimpse into a typical Wednesday night PCC band rehearsal:
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Yes, I think that he was actually asleep.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Regardless Of Your Politics.... have GOT to appreciate this burst of creativity.  

This, today, made me extraordinarily happy.  Creative stuff works that way, doesn't it?

Props to Henry Hey and my buddy David Russell from Cleveland.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

All I Have To Do...

I just woke up.  Stayed up later than usual with friends, after a great church leadership meeting.

I'm discovering a pattern here; when I can sleep a decent amount of time - like more than six hours - I remember my dreams.

And they're really...well, strange might be the operative word.

Here's what I remembered this morning:  I dreamed of satan.  He was real, tangible, literal.  I was in a home with bunch of teenagers, and satan roamed around upstairs.  Occasionally somebody went up to that floor and stumbled around, got beaten up, was thrown back downstairs - but in my dream it was understood that is was on me to do battle. I was responsible for putting this guy in his place, for protecting those with me in the house.  I went upstairs a few times and managed to get out alive by shouting or screaming "Jesus".

We gathered all the teenagers together, ostensibly for some sort of rehearsal, but I grabbed the leader/pastor (someone like Brian, but not Brian) who was fixated on putting together the stage platform.  I insisted that we address the reality of the enemy and the spiritual battle that was right in our midst, rather than go through some rehearsal.  At that point, satan - who looked like some sort of intense,  winged transformer - very red, dark, and angry - came into the room with all of us.

Nobody was really scared.  You'd think we'd experience abject terror in the presence of such evil.  But it was if everyone didn't think enough of him to even react; like he was just another fictionalized object, a distraction.

And then someone went out of the room to fight with him, and they didn't come back.  And he did.  I stood in front of him and began to say "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!", to state various scriptures ("Greater is he who is in me...")

It seemed to do minimal damage, but he left me alone.

John Starkey was in my dream; he took a phone call and announced that Matt Turner was in the hospital and we needed to pray for him.  Someone called me into the hallway to try to help the girl who had gone upstairs...

Then I woke up. 

Very strange.  I can connect the dots to the reality of my life today....just a bit....

Anybody want to take a stab at dream analyzation?  Go for it.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Yesterday's message at church was on relationships, and our pastor encouraged us all to watch 'Fireproof'.  His words were:  "It wrecked me."

Yeah.  It wrecked me, too.

I'm still processing.  We watched it tonight at small group, and I knew it would be emotional.  My kids had seen it in the theater when it came out, and they told me I'd cry.  They'd been with their dad - they said he cried.

I reacted to the movie in a few different ways - and not as I expected.  First of all, it was rather cheesy in some respects (something our pastor had warned against.  He said not to bail on the movie because of any production or acting issues - to stay tuned for the message).  Actually, I found the production to be fairly decent.  Some of the "preachier" moments were what got me.  But more about that later...

I watched the story unfold expecting to feel guilty.  As a divorced woman, one who can clearly see her mistakes in hindsight, I was prepared to feel beat up, reminded of my own sins.  To my surprise, none of my reactions lined up with guilt, shame or condemnation.  I'm not sure how much of that has to do with my own recovery or the gentle grace with which the movie delivered its story.

My overwhelming reaction was one of sorrow.  Deep, deep sorrow -the kind that I feel when I hear of a marriage that is broken, when I see two people unable to reconnect, when I talk to a woman seeking love outside of her marriage.  This movie connects in a powerful way with those emotions.  Divorce hurts.  Brokeness hurts.  Emptiness hurts.

It was impossible to watch the movie without connecting, in some way, with the characters.  I'm not sure if that's everone's experience, but it was mine.  In some objective fashion, I was able to see the husband and wife and relate to both - and to shed some healing tears of forgiveness that had much more to do with me and my former husband than the characters on the screen.

That's profound, when a story can reach that deeply.

I thought a bit about the cheese factor, the stereotypical "come to Jesus" scenes...and I am thinking that maybe that's a large part of the grace of our faith.  See, I am very caught up each week in church; in creating worship experiences, connecting people, leading, discipleship, etc.  It's important to be relevant and present and authentic and all that.  There's not a lot of room for cheesiness in the world in which I operate.

But this movie, and the emotions it triggered, got me to thinking:  maybe cheesy isn't such a bad thing.  Maybe those stereotypes, that simplistic explanation, the corny scene with the father leaning against the cross...maybe there's just enough truth there to allow us to relax, to get past the glamour of production values, celebrities and strong story lines and just take it for what it is.  Because, truthfully, that's what most of us are dealing with. 

Still processing this.  Grateful to the folks who made the film.  Thinking about my own history, thankful for a chance to forgive.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Setlist 2.15.08

This was the second week in our You Can't Handle the Truth series.  The title was Love Lockdown; but we didn't pull out any Kanye West.  Great song, though...

The band jam prior to 10B4 was When Love Comes to Town by U2 and B.B. King.  Almost sacrilige to cover something so amazing, but we did.  It was really, really fun.  I loved doing the research on the tune - watching the youtube video - and hearing B.B. King tell Bono, "I don't do so good playing chords."

After 10B4 (our announcement video - available on our website), we kicked off the service.
Because of Your Love - Paul Baloche.  This was new for us - easy to learn, easy to sing.  Lots of fun with the "yeahs".
Everlasting God - Brenton Brown and Ken Riley.  We did this a bit faster than Mr. Tomlin.  I love it with some "oomph"!
OTaste and See - Brian and Jenn Johnson.  I love doing this song with Gina.  One of my favorite verses, I really enjoy this as a worship song.

We broke for a welcome and comments, prayed for the offering and then continued with Your Love Is Extravagant by Darrell Evans.  It was nicely unplugged and I played an egg shaker, which is a remarkable thing, because I'm not too coordinated.  I kept whacking my mic stand with the egg.  I'm thinking that provided a unique percussive effect.

The message went great.  Towards the end, Brian talked about marriage vows, and the irony of what we often promise compared to the conditional way we often love.  Greatly inspired by a video from NewSpring (thanks to Tony Morgan, but I can't find the link for the clip right now...), we staged a "wedding ceremony" in the middle of the message.  It was fake.  It was funny.I hope to post a video later...

To end, we recapped When Love Comes to Town.  And then we sent 'em home, with a strong encouragement to watch Fireproof this week.

It was a good day.  Thanks to Fred McKinnon for allowing us all to play the Sunday Setlist game - you should check it out!

And now, I'll leave you with a little B.B.....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentine's Day

I slept in.  From 8:30 - 9:00ish, I had a very weird dream.  Wrigley Field was in Kansas.  Kim Bontrager was showing me around the state, riding on a tiny train - like the kind you take around the zoo.  It was all good until we went down a very steep hill and I realized the train was some sort of roller coaster.  Kim insisted it was normal.

It was extraordinarily strange.

On to real life:  I headed to the County Seat Restaurant, reknowned for their weekend breakfast buffet.  My parents showed up, unexpected but cheerful.  We shared a cup of coffee together.

I got in the car with The Man of Many Surprises.  We headed west.  That's all I knew.

Listened to Bruce Hornsby the whole way, wondering how I ever missed this guy.  Incredible musician, unbelieveably creative...anyway, on we drove.

Right around Charlottesville, we exited the highway and headed up the mountain.  I realized our destination:

We were at Monticelllo.  I was thrilled!  I've wanted to go ever since my first trip with the kids up to Carters Mountain.

We wandered the grounds for a few hours, listening to the Oprah-like saga of Sally Hemings' daliances with Thomas Jefferson and the subsequent DNA testing results, visiting gravestones, checking out walls and gardens and 200-year old fireplaces.  The house tour was remarkable.

I left anxious to get my hands on that biography about Jefferson, or maybe ready to set aside time to watch the mini-series.  The entire experience was fascinating, well-done and a testimony to the right way to preserve history.  If you haven't done Monticello, put it on your short list.  

It was a stellar day, capped off with a Snickers Blizzard.

Oh, yeah - then I got home and saw that my girls had cleaned the house.  People, it just doesn't get better than that.

Color me content.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Small Groups At PCC

Today at staff meeting, Sammy Frame presented a new idea about small groups at PCC.

It's creative.

It's focused.

It's risky.

It's exciting.

It's going to change this community.

I am so psyched!

I love my job!

Monday, February 9, 2009

God Made Some People REALLY Creative

I have been captivated by this all day.  

Creativity.  Ingenuity.  And focus; I can't even imagine how long this must have taken.

HT to Ben Arment for the find...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Setlist 2.8.09

Church was good.  About 30 people stuck around for PCC 101 afterwards, where they learn about our mission, our focus, our values and why we do what we do.  Why we are who we are.  Where we came from.  How we got here.

And we heard from them, too.  Which is humbling and stunning.

In big church, we did Pretty Woman for the pre-service music.  Yeah.  Roy Orbison.  Check that one off on the 'songs I never imagined we'd do in church' list.  Our 10B4 video followed, which was chock full of good information.

We were down a few vocalists, but our team did a great job.  The band was excellent.

Today Is The Day Lincoln Brewster
Love the Lord again, Lincoln Brewster
Just thought we'd do a double dip of Lincoln Brewster tunes today.  Our guitar player loved it, and he played great.
The Stand Hillsong
Haven't done this one in a while; it sounded great today.  Powerful worship.

We showed a short video clip of our What Not to Wear shopping trip with our pastor, after which he came out in his new clothes, looking trendy and cool.  The message, the first in our series You Can't Handle the Truth (props to our girl Connie Kottman for the cool graphic!), was about appearances.  We dressed him differently just to prove a point.  He'd spent all of yesterday in bed with the stomach flu, so the fact that he was even there, with a sermon in hand, was impressive.

We closed with a powerful video called Perception.  The whole story of this is a testimony to the power of social networking; my daughters have been aware of this video for a while, and have found it very moving.  When we began to plan this service, they mentioned it again.  Our original creative element (a drama) fell through, so we took a second look at this piece.

We found it on Godtube/Tangle, but couldn't locate it on any of the regular video outlets.  We saw the producer's name - Nick Caster - but Google searches for him were fruitless.

Enter Facebook; we found Nick there, added him as a friend and started some dialogue.  He generously offered to overnight the dvd to us.  It arrived Friday, we got it ready and used it.  We are indebted and very grateful. We've embedded the video here - check it out.

We encouraged folks to check out a short Bible study we're doing called Rise Above the Reflection, focused on 5th - 7th grade girls, designed to help them discover the truth about their image, as God sees them.

It was a powerful day.  

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist carnival over at Fred McKinnon's blog.  Check it out!

I'm not sure exactly went on in Power Jam this morning, but that's my boy. And his best friend.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Extreme Style Makeover

If you've been at PCC recently, you may have heard a few remarks about our pastor's style.

Because we love him, we thought we'd help.

Don't miss church on Sunday.  I'm just sayin'.

God's About To Move

I'm plowing through the Breaking Free study and really soaking in the truth I'm finding.  Today I read something so powerful:

"According to 2 Chronicles 32.1, we can be faithful to God and centered in His will, yet still be attacked by the enemy.  Sometimes our enemy attacks the weak and wandering believers because they are easy prey.  Other times he attacks competent, fully-surrendered servants of God for the challgenge and the possible contagious effect of a fall....We are wise never to consider ourselves invulnerable, so that we stay alert and aware at all times..."

The Biblical example of Hezekiah and the other kings of Israel are fascinating bits of history - but the moral and spiritual lessons seen in their humanity stick with me much more than the facts.  Going through this part of the Bible again brings back memories of different places and times where I've studied this before - but these days, it's fresh.

Just last night, I was commisserating with a friend about the malaise I currently feel.  Much of it seems related to church - both the practical, work-related issues and the interpersonal connections.  He pointed out to me that difficult times like these often reflect the work of our enemy, who gets agitated when God's about to move.

God's about to move.

I know He's ever-present, always there, never leaves or forsake us.  I trust His presence.  I live in that.   But I'm sensing some truth here.  God's about to move.  I believe that perhaps all this angst is more than just my personal junk.

God's about to move.

I'm on my knees.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

We're Gonna Figure It Out

Gathered up from a post on Milton's blog, here is something I recognized today. 

This, taken from the Bruce Springsteen interview in Rolling Stone, describes how I feel about my life. My job. My friends. My family. My fellow musicians at PCC. The people - my friends - with whom I work.  Here is my life:

All you want is for your voice to be part of the record, at a particular time and place. You try to be on the right side of history. And maybe some other kid will hear that and go, “Oh, yeah, that sounds like the place I live.” ...And the fire I feel in myself and the band – it’s a very enjoyable thing. It carries an element of desperateness. It also carries an element of thankfulness. We are perched at a place where we want to continue on – with excellence. That’s our goal. And all the rest of the stuff – we’re gonna figure it out.

It's been a difficult week.  I have struggled with feeling inept, incapable of fixing things. Helpless in the face of friends who say they're losing ground, giving up. Burdened by the raw, aching wounds of people around me. Hurt by criticism and misunderstanding.

I quite like this notion of living with a combination of desperation and gratitude.  And I can cling to the notion of being perched - what a great word! - at a place where we "want to continue on with excellence".

Struck down, but not destroyed.  Persecuted, not abandoned.  Pressed, but not crushed.


And thank You.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Setlist 2.1.09

Some PCC Choir folks during tech run...

I haven't done a Sunday Setlist for ages....but here we go.

We ended our "Leverage" series today.  It's been a challenging series - in that we have been challenged, every week, to challenge the power available to us - through community, prayer, money and - today - our lifestyle.

I kind of thought the day was going to be all about sin.  Instead, Brian leaned into Biblical examples of how choices - good and bad - impacted history.  It was a fascinating message.

The music, I loved.  So much.  We had a choir today, rehearsed in a cramped, hot trailer on Wednesday night.  But they came ready to show Jesus some love, and it was awesome.  I'm so grateful to everybody for the hard work and sacrifice they made to come lead today.  They sang on all four tunes and it was stellar.  I can't say enough about the sound guys today, who went above and beyond - without their usual leader in place.  Mixing the choir is always a challenge - they did a superb job.

We also had some killer percussion from Jenn (her first time!) and Craig.  I love me some choice percussion...

Here's what we did:

First of all, we're opening ten minutes early these days, starting with a band jam and then throwing our "10B4" video in (which usually is less than ten minutes - hence the jam).  We did an original hip-hoppy/funk groove thing for a while, then launched the video announcements.
Friend of God - Israel Houghton
Let God Arise - Chris Tomlin
Overcome - Jon Egan, from New Life Worship.  First time for this tune today, and it was POWERFUL.  It lends itself to excellent and easy harmony vocals for a large ensemble, and it's quick for the congregation to pick up.  It sounded great and created an awesome, tangible sense of worship and praise.  It's one powerful tune, and if you haven't heard it, seen the life New Life Performance AND heard the story behind the song, check out and look it up.  Great stuff.

We went to worshiphousemedia to find "What Is Sin", an excellent Man on the Street vid from Visual Reality.  It set up Brian's message.

Lose My Soul This was MOST EXCELLENT.  We covered the newer version, with our own version of Kirk Franklin, Toby Mac and Mandisa rocking the stage.  I was thrilled to see the band step up and cover this style, with some authentic scratching and killer vocals.  The choir came up at the end and nailed the chorus and really drove the point home.  We sent folks out the door with the exhortation to truly look around and choose - to remember that it does no good to gain anything in the world at the cost of your soul.

Personally, today was powerful for me - both because of the excellence the musicians brought and the powerful way I felt the presence of God.  There were moments today when I couldn't decide whether to raise my hands or play the piano.  I tried doing a bit of both - but my heart was focused on One Thing.

I am so grateful to have a place and a reason to celebrate every Sunday morning.  I love my church, and I love my God.

What did YOU think/feel/experience/learn today?

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