Sunday, September 27, 2009

With The Family

This is Dana (along with Syd and Shannon).

She was ordained to ministry today; meaning that her home church ceremonially confirmed that she is "called" to serve God with her work and her life, and that she is, indeed, doing so. Baptist-style ordination is a mixture of formal prayers and responsive readings and informal speaking by people who were significant in the life of the one being ordained. It was a unique day for Dana, where she was the center of attention, affection and affirmation.

It was a unique day for me, too. Dana had spoken with me to personally invite me to attend, and followed up with a written invitation by mail.

I accepted. I drove to Caroline County and walked into a beautiful, rural Baptist church. It was slightly awkward.

Slightly awkward because Dana and I have a unique relationship.

We're both "Mrs. Brawley".

Dana met and married Lonnie - my kids' dad - last year.

As we have carefully and tentatively navigated the waters of interacting, managing kids' schedules and figuring out how to communicate, we discovered something interesting: we liked each other.

I mean, I really like this woman. I respect her and admire her. She's funny, focused on ministry and passionate. She cares deeply for my children. And she takes good care of the man who was once the most important person in my life.

I swear, I can't sort it out. She and I both acknowledge that it's very weird.

But it is what it is.

I came to the service anticipating that I would simply be a witness. I found a place in the next-to-last pew, in the very back of the church, planning to stay out of sight and out of mind, while still honoring the invitation.

But Dana sent Sarah back to get me. She had saved me a seat, up front.

With the family.

At the end of the ordination service, all those present were invited to speak privately with Dana as she kneeled at the front of the church. Church members, family, friends, co-workers, fellow pastors - for an hour, people streamed by to whisper a prayer, speak words of encouragement, offer a hug. There were many tears. As I watched others stream by, I considered what I should do.

In the end, I went forward and knelt before the woman who is now married to the man that I married almost 20 years ago. We shared words and a hug.

It's weird. It's awkward at times.

But more than anything, to me it's a great demonstration of the reality of this statement:

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8.28 (NLT)

And I believe it is proof that grace covers everything, if you just open your heart and let it in.

I don't know if anybody has ever figured out what this sort of relationship ought to be like. I'm just gonna roll with it. It's working, and it's good.

And I'm grateful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Marriage Is Work

God’s not looking for us to say “I’m sorry” and then keep repeating the same sin over and over…He’s looking for us to be broken, repent and cry out, “I don’t want to live this way anymore!!!” - Perry Noble

We visited NewSpring Church last Sunday, checking out their satellite location at the Florence Civic Center. It was an interesting adventure, seeing how a group of passionate and fully committed folks come together to office a worship experience using technology and a lot of smiles.

I went to check things out in the light of PCC's future endeavors.

I left powerfully impacted by the message of the day.

If you are married, I want to encourage you - no, let me say I want to beg you to watch the message that Perry Noble preached last week. You can log on to their site and literally go to church. Skip through the music if you are short on time (but it's brilliant and worth whatever you have to set aside - you will worship!)

If you are married, you need to hear what Perry has to say. It's from the Bible. It's true. And it matters. If you're not married, it still matters - for your future, for your friends, for your family.

For me, it's personal.

I hope you'll watch. Go here to see Message #5 in the series Five Lies of the Devil.

Beautiful Music

Something oh-so-lovely to start the day, thanks to Sarah B.

Apparently there are many, many things going on around us of which we are unaware.

What else am I missing?

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Just saw this awesome video.

A young violinist, in her first rock-n-roll gig.

Playing with her dad.

Who happens to be my brother.

Which makes her my neice.

I'm flapping my hands, and processing a priceless combination of pride, love and something I can't even name. Except it has something to do with the gift of song and love for my family. And it brings a huge smile to my face.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Not Just A Guy Thing

Women have issues with porn.

It's not just a guy thing.

It's real. It's a problem.

It's hard to talk about.

There's help. A very brave woman has launched an online resource to make a way. Dirty Girls Ministries was launched by Crystal Renaud earlier this year.

Pass it on.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pesonality Patterns

Prompted by a post on Tony Morgan's blog, I took a Personality Pattern test.

Here are my results. I'd say that there are a few things listed here that are spot on. Our production team can testify to that...

1.Loose - You feel that a clean, orderly desk is the sign of a person who doesn't have enough to do. Schedules and "to do" lists feel stifling; you thrive on a sense that anything goes, and know that the world won't end if you don't clean up after finishing a job. You don't need to know that everything is in its place; it is not empowering to you to feel that the world around you is neat and organized. Mowing down every item on your "to do" list, every day, does not bring you joy.

2.Curious -You like to get to the bottom of things. You're not content knowing what someone did; you want to know why they did it. You don't simply take things as they are and move on; you're not content skimming along on the surface; you don't feel you're wasting time by digging for the meaning of things.

3. Innovative - You come up with a lot of ideas; if one doesn't work out, there's always another waiting in the wings. You often have interesting solutions to difficult problems. You're practically a one-person brainstorming session. You are less interested changing the world than in dealing with things as they are. Unlike those who spend all their time trying to solve problems, you prefer to zero in on things that work and stick with them.

4. Aesthetic - You appreciate art, beauty, and design; you know that they are not superficial but absolutely crucial to living the good life. You have good taste, and you're proud of it. Those with a high score on the "aesthetic" trait are often employed in literary or artistic professions, enjoy domestic activities — doing things around the house — and are enthusiastic about the arts, reading, and travel. You don't think it's pretentious to be moved by art and beauty. You're not one of those who believe it doesn't matter what something looks like as long as it does its job.

5. Creative - You are good at solving problems, coming up with original ideas, and seeing connections between things, connections that most other people miss. People with a high score on the "creative" trait often are employed in such fields as finance and scientific research, and enjoy avant garde and classical music as well as literary fiction and scholarly non-fiction.
You do not shun abstractions and concepts in favor of the concrete and tangible.

6. Astute - You are a quick study. You generally don't need to have things explained to you more than once. When presented with a problem, you will often have an instant understanding of where to look for the solution. You do not take your sweet time when presented with a new task to complete or problem to solve. You don't avoid assignments that require you to learn new skills.

7. Intellectual - You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You're the living embodiment of the saying "You learn something new every day." In general, those with a high score on the "intellectual" trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music. You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.

8. Sympathetic - You have a knack for knowing what's going on in the hearts and minds of those around you, without their having to tell you explicitly. People tend to turn to you with their problems because they know you care, and that you will likely offer good advice and a helping hand. You do not feel that people with sad stories are just looking for attention, or have brought their problems upon themselves.

9. Original - You are constantly coming up with new ideas. For you, the world as it exists is just a jumping-off place; what's going on inside your mind is often more interesting than what's going on outside. You don't feel that the road to success is to be a realist and stick to the program; you never stop yourself from coming up with new ideas or telling the world what you're thinking about.

10. Assertive - You behave in a confident and forceful manner, take charge of the situation, raise your hand in class, stand up for what you think is right, and lead others. Among those who have a high score on the "assertive" trait, many have jobs in which they are valued for their organizational skills as well as their talent for supervising others. You are not interested in fading into the woodwork, leaving everything to fate, taking more time than necessary to accomplish a task, or avoiding confrontation.

So what are your top ten traits?

Loves Like A Hurricane, I Am A Tree

A few Sundays ago, we finally used Jon Mark McMillan's How He Loves in a service.

The song is powerful, loaded with a unique opportunity for awe-struck expression. The lyrical images differ from the usual worship song fare these days.

I got to sing it. It was an honor. There is no possible way the melody and the harmonies can convey the gut-wrenching glory of four simple words, launched in repetitive declaration:
"He love us, oh how he loves us, oh how he loves us, oh how he loves..."
As the band played and sang, the painters painted. Two of our artists were incredibly moved by the song, as we were, and they expressed their declaration with paints and brushes.

Read about their experience here, where my friend Angie blogs.

And don't forget: He loves us. Oh, how he loves us.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beautiful Things

Shannon, by Sarah.

My daughter Sarah is gifted.

Passionate about beauty.

An experienced photographer who does exceptionally good work.

Please visit her new photo blog here.

And if you're in need of a photographer - senior pictures, Christmas photos, family portraits - she's looking for a job. Or two.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Universal Language

Music is universal. It's in our souls, long before we start singing in school, before Guitar Hero, beyond time signatures, sharps and flats. Before anyone in Arcade Fire picked up an instrument.

So inspired by this short clip featuring one of my favorite artists. Ever.

Enjoy, and props to my brother, who twittered this my way.

This will make your day. It made mine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Being Human

Lord, what a week.

I feel stretched in a million different directions. I feel lost. I feel broken. I feel exhausted.

I am in a season of finding out some truths about myself. It requires that I stop, look and listen.

None of those things are particuarly appealing right now.

I read a sentence today that literally took my breath away. I post tonight only to share it with you. From the blog of someone I admire greatly, both for his perspective on life and his talent with words - you can read more from Milton here. In the meantime, chew on this:

Redemption rides on small gestures and simple acts; forgiveness has fingerprints.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Multi-site? What?

You may have heard the news that PCC is planning to become a multi-site church.

It may seem crazy, but we believe that God is calling us in this direction.

So why? Why would we do this?

Pete Wilson leads Cross Point Church in Nashville. They are a church that definitely feels called to use a multi-site strategy to honor the vision and purpose that God has given them. In a recent blog post, he listed three great reasons for moving forward with this strategy.

I think they apply to PCC.

Here's what Pete had to say. What do you think?




To learn more about PCC's plans, come to an informational meeting on Tuesday, September 15 - 6:00 PM at Cici's in Westchester. For more info, check out Brian's post here.

Leadership Conference

I'm honored to have received an invitation to speak at the 2009 Leadership Development Conference for Central Virgina Baptist Ministries. I get to talk about creative technology and the impact of social media on the church.

Hopefully I'll figure out a definitive answer before the conference. Then, maybe I'll solve the American health care crisis.

Seriously, I've enjoyed researching info for this talk. I'm looking forward to it!

If you're interested in Leadership Development, Central Baptist Style, check out the registration info here. The conference itself is free, but you can get yourself a good dinner for a mere $7. The event is September 28 at Bon Air Baptist Church. I'm not particular about wanting you to come hear me; there are a ton of sessions offered that might be of interest to you. Check it out!

I've met some great people through CVBM - folks like Lee Ellison and Jim Hamacher and Nita May. Looks like this conference will be another great opportunity to get folks together.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For The Least Of These


What's that about? Why would people travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away to do something "for God"?

What about all the people who need help here, in our country?

Why go to Africa?

Why go to Belize?

Why go at all?

PCC has teams currently preparing for trips to Belize and Africa. Student ministries are planning national trips for summer 2010 We are coordinating a local IMPACT project scheduled for October. For more information, contact the PCC office.

For more information on the 410 Bridge and their work in Kenya, click here.