Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It's Thanksgiving Eve. The house is quiet - just me, the laptop and a little mindless television. It's been a busy day.

We had a house full of fun and food and laughter all afternoon. We call it "Fake Thanksgiving", and it's an every-other-year event. My favorite holiday - I can't stand to skip it when the kids spend the "official" holiday with their dad. We just pretend Wednesday is Thursday and nobody seems to mind. Elijah and Travis are here, on break from school, and their presence filled the house in a joyous way. Katie joined us as well, and the touchstone of her presence throughout the last several years - in our lives and also with my parents - made her place at the table very special.

Plus Katie brought pies. But that's another (delicious) (fattening) subject.

I'm a very thankful girl these days. Little things settle in my heart and give me great peace. The house is clean and uncluttered (for MY standards, anyway!) My family is safe and sound. My parents are healthy and present in our lives. My job is rewarding and fulfilling. My friendships are solid and meaningful. I love a man deeply and powerfully and truly and he loves me in return.

I've arrived at some point in life that seems to mark a turning of sorts. As if I am standing on the edge of a river, about to step forward. It's the truth, actually; much is changing. My kids are growing older - I'm learning to parent young adults, which is much more of a challenge than I ever imagined it would be. I'm reevaluating my role in my workplace and excited about what lies ahead and what challenges and opportunities await our community. I'm about to enter into a partnership with a man - a marriage - that feels so new and unique and unlike anything I've ever done, and yet will be settling and familiar.

Seems like I'm growing up. I find it somewhat disturbing that it's taken me 46 years to get to this point. Aren't I a bit late to the game?

Is this the way other people in their forties feel? I mean, for all these years, I looked at people in this stage of life and assumed that they had things figured out. Seemed like you live this long, get your kids halfway or mostly raised, and you had it together. By this point, you had the house, the cars, paid the bills, worked your job, knew the ropes. Knew who you were.

But I'm looking at my friends who are my age and I'm thinking, "Shoot - they are still figuring it out as they go along - just like me." And I KNOW that I'm still stubbing my toe on the big and small issues of life.

So being a grown up must be relative, I guess.

I do know this - there are some lessons I have learned. Some mistakes have paid dividends. Perseverance has paid off. Love always wins. Investment in children is never wasted.

Some things I'm starting to get.

There's my Thanksgiving ruminations. Tomorrow I'll hang out with my parents and be thankful - so very thankful - for all that has been and all that is to come.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Merry Old Land Of Oz

We're off.

To see the wizard, and experience something new, and broaden our days.

Sydni and I have lived at The Steward School in Richmond since 9:00 AM yesterday. Two Friday shows, three today, two more tomorrow after church - then next weekend we do it all again.

There is so much I don't know about theatre.

There is so much I don't know about sitting under a conductor.

There is so much I don't know, and it's good to be reminded of that.

A few days ago, what I didn't know terrified me.

Tonight, I have my wits about me. I've found my footing - in the music, in the conversation, and in the joy that bursts out of the music and the dancing and the acting and the sets and the costumes and all that combines to make an incredible performance.

Excellence. It honors God and inspires people.

It's a privilege to participate. And it's an honor to be stretched.

Syd's having a blast, but she's tired. And she's struggling with some sort of allergy to the makeup she's using. We have changed everything we can think of, we're dosing her with Benadryl - but she wakes up every morning with her eyes swollen nearly shut.

Plus somebody dropped a chair on her toe in school last week, and her toenail is falling off.

She's a trouper; I'm so proud of her attitude and her commitment. She inspires me in so many she's doing a GREAT job in the show!

There's a possibility that I will have a few extra tickets for next Saturday. If you're interested, let me know....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Charlie - Auto-Tuned!

Our family has always loved this video; "CHARLIE BIT ME!" is a phrase you'll hear around our house, with the required English accent.

But this takes the cake.

Somebody auto-tuned Charlie.

And I am going to bed, because nothing's going to top this today.

Good night all. Enjoy these 30 seconds of bliss before you go...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Out Of Control

I. Feel. So. Out. Of. Control.

There, I said it.

Not sure what good it will do, but honesty is always a good first step.

And not sure what good it does to air it all in a public forum, but writing for me is cathartic. And so, I will write, and probably hit the PUBLISH POST button.

Fall is always a busy time of year for us. Pushing up towards the holidays (somebody please tell me where October went?) means two birthdays (Daniel will be 14 next week - unbelievable - and Sarah will be 19 in mid-December) with schoolwork ramping up and long-range planning at work and calendaring all sorts of activities - it all equals craziness. Especially for one who is organizationally challenged (as I am).

Side note: I am getting married in five weeks and a few days as well. That brings about its own planning challenges, but the big bonus is that my future spouse is well-gifted in structure and systems. I welcome the balance he brings.

Anyway, what's prompting this post that reeks of introspection is my current involvement in Christian Youth Theatre - CYT - along with Syd. The weekly dance classes and weekend "Wizard of Oz" rehearsals have proven to be terrific experiences for her. Putting together the shows - they do about four each year - require a ton of commitment and time, and not just for the kids. They ask a lot of the parents.

By default, my contribution has ended up being part of the pit orchestra. On my volunteer sheet, I mentioned that I could serve as a rehearsal pianist as needed. The contracted player for the keyboard coverage of the string parts could not make it, so I got the call.

Because that meant I wouldn't have to sew anything, I responded gleefully.

That meant nothing more than personal practice time and then giving away my life during tech and show week.

Woo hoo! I love to play, it's second nature to me, so I was thrilled.

But HELLOOOO!!! Have you seen the music for "Wizard of Oz"? Remember, we are recreating a tornado. And flying witches. And munchkin marches.

This is the most challenging music that's been in front of me since The Magic Flute at Tarrant County College, when I was pregnant with David.

And it's eating my lunch.

So I've worked HARD - like two hours of practice a day. And I still can barely get by.

And so I go to rehearsal, and meet the conductor - VCU Band Conductor (HELLO???? DO YOU THINK HE KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING?) and the remaining crew of hired/incredibly talented musicians (with a few parents along for the ride as well) and I am faced with the mind-numbing realization that I am WAY out of my league here.

Hello, humility, and welcome back to my neurotic tendencies!

I can't keep up. And it's been excruciating, because it's not just an issue of, "Go practice harder!" It's cause to consider just how comfortable I have become in my role as a musician in my job. I've been coasting.

And it's a rude awakening to suddenly realize that this is what my team members feel like when they are not as comfortable with the music or the style of our weekly repertoire, and how they must stress when they don't have enough time to prepare. Which is my responsibility - to give them time to prepare. Now I know how they feel. And now I realize that I need to make some changes in the way that I do my job.

It's certainly a good thing to be reminded that the world is a big place. That there are many, many people who are better than you. That you can always - and should - strive to do better, to challenge yourself.

That's a good thing. It leads to growth.

But it doesn't feel so good.

This sense of inadequacy really screws with my ability to feel comfortable socially as well, so I've spent two rehearsals feeling like I was wearing a t-shirt that said:

Syd said, "Mom, just make some friends. You'll do fine. That's how I felt for the first few weeks. It'll be okay."

And so it goes. And it is what it is. I have stepped out of my insecurity and spoken to a few folks.

They're very nice.

Undoubtedly, my daughter is right.

It's not pleasant to realize that, basically, you suck. On top of all this personal chaos is the literal chaos of my house; it is a complete wreck. I can't find my keys. I have a million piles of paper stacked all over the house. There are bins of summer clothes that need to find their way to the attic. The leaves are piling up. The vacuum is broken. The un-matched socks are crawling towards my bed, planning to strangle me in the night. My sheets need to be washed. The bathroom is filthy.

It's overwhelming.

But here's where my faith sneaks in and brings a surprising comfort.

Going through the motions doesn't please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. - Psalm 51.16, The Message

I think Syd's right.

It'll be okay.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All The Single Ladies (And Guys)

I love me some Perry Noble. Agree or disagree (and I have done both), he is passionate and speaks with conviction about the things he believes God has called him to do and say.

I read his blog. You can read his blog here.

Perry's church, NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, is doing a series on singles. You can watch or listen to the messages here.

And you can read Perry's latest blog post right here, because I thought this was good enough information to copy and pass on to you.

If you're not single, I bet this would spark a great conversation with somebody who is.

And if you are single?

Think about it.

I/We Should Break Up Because…
Perry Noble

So…we’re in a singles series now (which, by the way, the married people are loving!) This past Sunday I challenged the guys…and this coming Sunday I will be speaking to the girls…and the following Sunday my wife Lucretia will be joining me on the stage for a live Q & A in every service.

One of the questions I often get by guys/girls is how do I know whether or not we should stay together or break up…so…let me throw a few things out there that I hope may be helpful…

#1 – The other person (usually the guy) ceases to pursue me and make me feel special/valuable. (If he is a slacker before marriage…it will be HORRIBLE after marriage!)

#2 – If our relationship is based on sex. (If you are having sex then you are not experiencing true intimacy. SO…when you get married you are going to discover that you have nothing to talk about because you built your relationship with the hay and straw of sexual experiences and not the bricks of self control and discipline.)

#3 – If they are not fun then they’re not the one! (Seriously…if you do not enjoy being with him/her and/ore spending time with them before the marriage…why in the heck would you ever think that you will after marriage? Don’t marry someone that you don’t like–DUH!!!)

#4 – The Holy Spirit is pressing you to end the relationship. (There are SO many people I’ve spoken with that KNOW the Lord is pressing into them to end the dating relationship…but because of their insecurities they just won’t do it. If God is commanding you to give something up that means He has something greater in store. Even though you can’t see it…He can!!! I Corinthians 2:9)

#5 – You KNOW you aren’t going to marry the person you are dating. (Dating was not created to be some sort of hobby/sport. So…when you KNOW that the relationship is NOT heading beyond its current condition…you KNOW that he or she is NOT the person God has for you…END IT! Don’t date someone just so you won’t be alone…this situation ALWAYS goes bad because so many people get married “just because we thought it was the next step!”)

#6 – He/she is always flirting with other people…and/or he/she isn’t faithful to you before marriage. (If they AREN’T being faithful before marriage…they won’t be after marriage either!!!)

#7 – You think, “he/she isn’t who I want them to be…but I can change them.” (PLEASE READ THIS…YOU ARE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT, YOU CAN’T CHANGE ANYONE!!! God is the ONLY ONE who can change someone…and reality is the reason God may not be changing the person you are with is because you are in the way…and your compromise does not bring that person closer to Christ…it drives him/her away!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Things Done!

It sure was nice to pull up to the PCC property today and see things moving again! Dennis Green and Charlie Towler spent some time surveying the job site as the electricians ratcheted things up and the dump trucks moved dirt for a parking lot.
We're so grateful for the leadership of Dennis, Chris Ashman, Chauncey Starkey and others who have managed this process so that we can move forward once again.

There is much going on in the life of our church as people grow and change and dig deeper into their relationship with God and with others. Seeing some tangible progress on the construction site is another exciting development.

We are grateful!

My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long. Psalm 35.28

Monday, November 9, 2009


I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. - Psalm 9.1, The Message

Today, I am thankful for color.

The way the sun dances on the front of the storage building in the back yard.

(Which was built by my friend Andy, for whom I am also grateful.)

A carpet of leaves layers the ground outside my kitchen window, covering up the lack of landscaping attention so sorely needed. Now it just looks leafy. Kind of like throwing a nice quilt over a sofa that's seen better days.

Autumn is my favorite time of year; at least that is so in October and November, when the colors are passionate and full of the demonstrative glory of change. For most of my life, I've been all about the changing; rearranging the furniture, finding a new job, starting a new hobby.

I'm settling down in my old age, I suppose. I am more reluctant to change, more aware of the toll and time it takes. I'm a good bit more comfortable.

But the colors of fall remind me that there is glory in death and beauty in transition.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Brawley

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Setlist 11.8.09

I've been getting some grief from folks who are unhappy with my lack of blogging consistency. I'll try to rectify that in coming weeks, starting with a recap of today's service and our new series at PCC.

After finishing our WIRED series, which focused on our individual relationship with God and spiritual discipleship, we are intentionally leaning towards a discussion of the character of God and who he is during these next few weeks. We've chosen a few adjectives for the messages, but they are by no means exhaustive. Our goal is to prompt thinking and generate your own exploration of who God is through the Bible, small group studies and prayer.

Our graphics team came up with a cool image. (One trivial tidbit of info concerns the blackboard in the series graphic image. That's a REAL blackboard from the VCU campus in the image...)

Here's the way the service ran today. For you local PCC folks, I encourage you to follow the links on the songs and add these tunes to your playlist. Worshiping throughout the week to songs that connect to your Sunday experience can provide some powerful moments for you to praise God and for him to speak to you. Click on any song to find it on iTunes.

God Is Great - Hillsong - This is an older tune that we did for the first time today because of the obvious connection to the series title. Easy to learn, lots of energy - it worked and was a lot of fun to lead.
Your Love Never Fails - Chris Quilala - The students have led this song at FOCUS and found it to be a powerful worship song. We were excited to "steal" it this morning. It was great to have Joseph and Samara lead with us; they are regular members of the FOCUS band, and it was cool to have them leading in the Big Room today!

We had a great 'Man On the Street' video that was shot by Rachel, a PCC student. A quick visit to Cary Street generated some interesting responses.

So Great - Michael W Smith, Israel Houghton, etc. - Bob Pino sent this song to me and strongly encouraged us to add it to the mix. It was more powerful than we ever imagined when we finally arrived at today's service. More than anything, it was awesome to look out over the crowd and see people responding physically; I saw a woman standing, hands open, eyes closed, simply worshiping God. Sarah said she saw a man standing in the upper section with his hands raised, looking like an angel worshiping God. Those are the most powerful moments for the musicians and production team - when we are prompted to interact with God in the middle of a service. When we witness it in the crowd, it's incredibly moving. I want to do this song again, soon.

Brian's message focused on the idea that God is safe. He taught about sheep and the imagery of Jesus as our shepherd. You can hear the message on the PCC website ( Click on the 'TELL ME MORE" tab and find the message date - you can listen live or download it to your computer or iPod.

Safe - Natalie Grant - Our closing song was an intense reminder of the promise of God - when we are willing to trust him, he will meet us where we are. One particular line in the chorus has stuck with me all day: "Your love has mended my blisters and bruising shame/here with you I am safe".

The unique aspect to today's service - and something we'll keep out for the next four weeks - were two large boards painted with chalkboard paint, set at either side of the stage. As he began the message, Brian invited folks to come at any time - even while he was talking - and react to the statement "God is..." by writing their response on the chalkboard. We provided sidewalk chalk of various colors. People moved - during his message, during the closing song and then after the service ended. It was really cool - almost a holy moment - to read what people had written.

It was a good day. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks!

If you were there, we'd love to hear your thoughts about the service! Leave them in the comment section below.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog carnival at Check it out for more updates about Sunday services around North America!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Smaller Solution

I'm having a rough time right now.

Lots of things swirling together to make a recipe for the autumn blues.

Family and relational challenges. Kids growing up, stretching their wings and breaking things in the process.

A friend's illness.

Another friend who is processing his wife's illness.

Life changes that bring about anxiety, stress, regrets and concern.

The consistent lack of time to accomplish all that needs to be done.

sounds like. a cup of soup, a good workout, some comfy socks, and a long-distance hug may seem like temporary fixes. but we live life in days and moments, so it sometimes makes sense that when a bigger solution is not to be found, a smaller one is held out. and it fits.

These words of wisdom came today from a friend, via a Facebook chat. I think she's got a great point.

It's the little things that get us through the day.