Thursday, December 31, 2009


I had the most remarkable day of my life last weekend.

I got married. Obviously that’s a big day in anyone’s life. But at this point in my journey, in my mid-forties, with five kids, a wedding takes on a completely different meaning. Of course there’s the basic premise - a commitment to a man, the beginning of doing life together as a couple, incorporating another adult into our family dynamic. The general stuff that comes with getting married remains the same.

But we had a wedding - a celebration, a party, an event - and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

When we began to talk about actually moving forward, taking this step, having a ceremony, I approached our discussion thinking that we’d do something very simple. After all, I’d obviously done this before. So had he. We had kids in the mix. We were adults. The need to celebrate ourselves seemed a bit superfluous. I thought we’d do something small, intimate - maybe even just take a trip to the county courthouse and avoid all the pomp completely.

There’s so much to process after a failed marriage; so many things that a mother feels like she owes her children, because so much was taken from them. It seems pretentious and self-serving to think about celebrating a new marriage. I couldn’t help but think about the kids and how a big party to celebrate this new union might impact or hurt them.

I think, actually, that I felt as though we should just hide, just sneak a little wedding ceremony under the radar.

But he had different ideas. He encouraged me to think big, to dream a bit, and after some discussion and releasing my inhibitions about something so self-centered, I began to explore the idea of having a party. And I realized that I really wanted to do just that - to celebrate, to rejoice, to stand up and loudly declare that something amazing had happened in my life, to forcefully declare my intentions. I wanted to create a beautiful, memorable day.

The past eight years have been so much about my choices - right or wrong, I have deliberately chosen one path or another, and I’ve dealt with the consequences. Having looked back over the last 40+ years of my life, I’d have to say that I finally grew up over the past eight years. I know who I am, and I’ve realized - finally - that I don’t have to apologize for that. My calling is to “walk straight, act right and tell the truth”.

And so, a few phone calls were made, a date was chosen, and things began to miraculously fall into place. In three months’ time, we planned a wedding - a party - and all that came with it.

I thought the day would never arrive - and then, when it did, it flew by way too fast. I can truthfully say that I enjoyed every single moment. About 30 minutes before we were to begin, all the girls were gathered in our dressing room - a mad mess of underwear and flowers and curling irons and hairspray, with my veil hanging off the light fixture - and I found myself in an amazing state of calm. No anxiety, no worries, no stress at all. I was, in a word, ready.

We have relived the day over and over, relished the mental pictures, tried to describe how we felt and what we experienced. It was remarkable and memorable. But three specific things stick out for me, because they were so unexpected. And the unexpected moments, I know, are the ones that really matter.

See, to some degree, I plan events for a living. Each week, I work to put together a Sunday experience that is scripted to honor a unique process with the intention of creating a memorable and important spiritual result. A wedding is sort of like that as well. We had scripted everything as best we could - we had a “felt need” (Tony and Beth want to get married!) and a “desired outcome” (Tony and Beth get married and all their guests have a wonderful time!) and we’d included some elements that we believed would make it memorable and sacred. The right people were in place - our families, who played important roles in everything that happened. We had a timeline and an order, and everything went according to plan.

But just like in the weekly gatherings that we plan when we seek to encounter the holy and divine in corporate worship, God showed up. I had a very specific, personal experience, and undoubtedly others experienced something completely different. But for me, there were three moments that took my breath away. Unscripted, they were reminders for me of how life itself can take you by surprise when you simply make space and time to notice.

First, I came down the aisle alone. This was deliberate, reflective of my choice and my decision, a statement of intention and independence. I entered into this marriage as a choice for me, rather than any desire to please or placate anyone else or any other expectations. I came to meet this man on my own. When I arrived, however, I found myself surrounded by men - five men whose impact on my life has been undeniable and irreplaceable.

As I reached the front row, I took the arm of my father, and my eldest son came to stand beside me as well. Supported on each side by the two men whose blood I shared, I stood before Brian, who has been my pastor, my friend, a creative partner, a counselor, an accountability partner, and a man who has allowed me to grow to a place of trust and understanding. Beside Brian stood my brother, whose lifelong presence in my life has brought friendship, inspiration, and the simplest, most definitive unconditional love I have ever given or received. My father on my left, who loves Tony like a son. Daniel on my right, my young man, almost as tall as me - my first son, the one promised and named by God’s whisper in my heart. And on the other side of Daniel stood Tony, the man to whom I would pledge my faithfulness and love.

There we stood. Most of us were crying. And I felt so surrounded and supported by these men, whose lives I have seen into to the degree that I understand and appreciate both their strengths and their weaknesses. I am a better person - so much closer to the woman God has created me to be - because of the presence of these men in my life. I cannot imagine my life without these men woven throughout. It was a moment I will not forget, an Ebenezer moment testifying to something deep and solid and healing in my soul.

Second: After the ceremony ended, we took a few photos and then proceeded out of the room. Most of the guests had already moved downstairs into the Rotunda, where the jazz piano music flowed and folks were eating, drinking and mingling. As I moved towards the railing and looked down, my breath caught in my throat. There were all of our friends. I had not seen anyone in the room during the ceremony - I only had eyes for the groom - but now, suddenly, I realized that all these people had come to celebrate with us! There was Karen and Mike and their girls; there was Mary Elizabeth, and Jeff and Nancy clear from Nashville, and Kelley and Brian. There was Chauncey and Christine and Alana. Christian was there, looking dapper as usual. I saw Ric and Betty and Hayley and Lisa and Jeff and all of them, all dressed to the nines, looking beautiful, and I was overwhelmed. A wave of gratitude washed over me, rich and resplendent with the grace of fellowship and community.

Third: We planned three dances, one for ourselves, and then one each with our respective parent. We practiced and planned for weeks, but in the moment I forgot every step and we ended up laughing our way through those first moments of our dance. Keeping with tradition, I had a dance planned with my father, and I’d chosen an old family favorite - Willie Nelson singing “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain”. My dad’s musical phases had impacted me greatly, and when we’d moved from Pennsylvania to Texas in 1976, he fell in love with Waylon and Willie and Jerry Jeff and we got a huge dose of outlaw music for several years. Just last year we saw Willie at the National in Richmond, and I thought it would be a meaningful moment.

Just a bit of back story here; my dad suffered a stroke about five years ago, and though his recovery has been miraculous, he is, in some ways, a different man than he was before the stroke. Though his physical healing has been remarkable, he still struggles with his balance at times. Quite frankly, I did not anticipate that our dance would be much more than a bit of a shuffle, a few moments to celebrate for the sake of tradition.

We moved to the dance floor and the song started and we shuffled along for a few bars. Dad muttered, “Let me see...just let me remember this....”

And then we began to dance. The Texas two-step, in perfect time. My dad moved me across the dance floor - me in my wedding gown, on this incredible day marking the most definitive moment of my mid-life journey - and we danced. Dad has always been a good dancer, and in that moment, he was exactly that. No simple homage to tradition, we were literally dancing, and I was in the arms of the first man who ever loved me, feeling every bit a princess.

Enthused by the cheers of the crowd, Dad ceremoniously pulled off his jacket, and then his tie, and - like the Clyde of years past, who would do anything for a laugh - he made like he was going to strip it all off. Our friends cheered and laughed, and we finished the three minutes of Willie’s mournful tune. I walked back to my seat astounded and overwhelmed, overcome with the realization that, for the length of a song, I’d been dancing with the man I’d known all my life.

It’s difficult to plan a wedding and not realize, time and time again, that these events are generally designed for the young, for those still moving towards figuring out who they’ll be and what they’ll do. Vows to honor and cherish are the doorway to an entire lifetime when you’re twenty-six years old and close to the beginning point of everything. When you’re forty-seven, this commitment means something entirely different, knowing that you’re past the promise and looking towards what comes as our lives wind inextricably towards the latter days.

But for me, regardless of the lines on my face or the gray in my hair, I discovered the great gift of grace, culminating in the celebration of a promise that intend to live out for the remainder of my days. And this day - my wedding day - felt like a new beginning, a fresh start, with layers of youthful anticipation for the future. It was an incredible, beautiful day; all that I have never dreamed of, because I never knew enough to dream such things for myself. I was happier than I have ever been. I am still glowing today.

I will never forget, which is the way it ought to be.

Friday, December 25, 2009

To All A Good Night

It's close to 3:00 AM Christmas Eve. It's one of my favorite times of the entire year; the kids are asleep, and I'm up, watching over all that will be revealed in the morning. I always forget what I've wrapped and who's getting what and in THIS family, all things must be equal, so it's important that every kid has the same number of gifts to open. I double check.

We had a wonderful evening. Imagine Christmas was our service tonight, and it was stunning. Amazing. Incredible. I played in the band and got to watch most of the service. At times, I found myself thinking, "Who are these people? How did they think up all this stuff?" And then I realize that this is my team, these are the folks who are investing their lives in our community and in God's work through our church. And I am privileged and honored to work alongside of them. It was a beautiful evening, all around.

We came home to hear The Boys (Travis and Elijah) share the song they wrote for The Girls (Shannon and Sarah) in some sort of song-writing challenging they'd thrown down. Apparently the rules were simple: write a song with the line, "I love you the most." Well, they did, and it was awesome.

We honored our Christmas Eve traditions; the kids opened one gift, which is always pajamas, which they quickly don. I play the Charlie Brown theme song and they do the Charlie Brown dance through the house. Then we gather around to hear the Christmas story; Shannon read this year. We light our "Christmas candle", which is a round blue candle that we have toted around for years, and we sing "Silent Night". Tonight we shared what we believed - about God, about our family, about ourselves. It was special, and good to have Elijah here to share that as well.

They all sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve - another tradition - and they'll awaken in a few hours to run down and see if Santa came.

(He did!)

It was a wonderful evening, and it's a watershed for us. Our family dynamic is changing; "The Boys" have been around for some time, and more and more of our family events include them. And in less than 48 hours, our lives will change again, with a wedding and the addition of another adult in the family. We talked about it and processed it and made our time together tonight a commemoration of something very important.

I am so incredibly grateful for my children. Each Christmas reminds me of the gift I was given in 1990, when Sarah was born one week before Christmas. I became a mother and my life changed, for good, forever.

I love Christmas Eve; I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Merry Christmas, all. May you find God's greatest blessing and His deepest peace.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What I Did With My Sunday

I started the day with a cup of coffee, after a great, restful night of probably more sleep than I needed.

Or maybe not.

If you sleep until you wake up, do you end up with the right amount of sleep?

When left to my own devices, I almost always sleep 9 - 10 hours before awaking. I always feel guilty about this; something from my childhood and my mom, who is always up at the crack of dawn (hi, Mom!)

I digress; anyway, this morning, I slept until I had my fill, and when I awoke, I had a cup of coffee, eggs and bacon. I "went to church" with Newspring via their online service. I enjoyed the worship music - sang along, even, and felt engaged with God as I did so - and I enjoyed the message immensely.

But I sure didn't feel like I went to church. Which is interesting to contemplate. I've only ever watched online church in addendum to my regular gathering time. I've never been in a situation where it was the only option, as it was today due to the weather-related cancellation of our services.

I missed community. I missed my friends. I missed the people, the connection, the overwhelming gulp I feel in my throat when I look out over the crowd and see my community.

I am also a bit disappointed in myself. I thought that the day would hold some different spiritual flavor. I expected that I'd take advantage of the time to embrace room to pray, to read, to be with God.

I did not. Although it seemed like a holy time, just having a good night's sleep and feeling unencumbered by pressure and work, I'm not sure there was enough room for anything else. As the kids began to call and make their way home, the time slipped away. The openness of unplanned time ahead and behind me disappeared.

And then we went shopping.

I had hoped for more. Too many other things are crowding out those moments. I'm busy, preoccupied with Christmas Eve services and rehearsals that have to be made up this week; plans for the last week of 2009 and the first week of 2010 and a wedding, for goodness' sake.

I'm cutting myself some slack, going to bed and looking forward to tomorrow. This post started out with intentions of writing about coffee cups. Look where we ended up.

Kind of like my life these days; I'm always ending up somewhere that's not quite where I planned....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Uninterrupted Space

Over a foot of snow. The "Blizzard of 09".

The rest of the world - away from the mid-Atlantic states - goes on as usual. Christmas shopping, concerts, shows, church services. But here in Virginia, DC and north and south of here, we are stuck. Time has slowed, stood still almost. Except for our connection to the world through the internet and television, we are still and isolated.

And it is a blessing beyond belief.

I cannot recall the last time I had this much uninterrupted space. From the kids, who had already intended to spend the weekend with their dad; from the phone. From work. From stress in general. No temptation to go out, because I cannot.

Focused time on that which has been begging for attention for weeks. Months, even. I folded six baskets of clothes that I am ashamed to admit had sat in my bedroom for longer than I can remember. We'd been rifling through the baskets for socks, jeans, shirts, underwear. Now the baskets are empty and the clothes are folded, put away in my room and waiting for the kids to do the same when they get home. The kitchen is clean. The pile of papers - excuse me, the three piles of papers and books - that had occupied my bedroom floor are now filed and put away. I vacuumed. I dusted.

I wrapped gifts, excited about some of the surprises under the tree.

My favorite elf showed up with some of Bob Pino's chili, still warm. Delicious.

I invited the elf in, and we ate Raisinets and watched The Proposal. Sweet movie. We both cried at the end.

The gentle quiet of the day brought a peace that I've not experienced in a long time. Too long. I have been given a gift. The timing is impeccable.

Tomorrow, we will not have church. I am disappointed. I feel out of sorts. It's odd to have a Saturday night that isn't brimming with anticipation for the next morning's worship experience. But in the midst of the disappointment in the altering of our usual plans, I'm a little excited. I wonder what the morning might bring.

I expect to find that I'll worship in some new and different way. I intend to do so, in fact. Not sure what it will involve yet, but first and foremost, I will thank God for the gift of time - a long, luxurious, uninterrupted span of over 36 hours.

What a gift.

A Christmas Offering

Read this, please.

Brought tears to my eyes. Sent me to my knees. Applies to my life in every way.

A great gift this season.


One of my favorite songs at Christmas time.

Any time, actually.

I knew this song, but didn't pay it much attention until I heard it from Herbie Hancock. That's a shame, coming from a Joni Mitchell fan, but it's the truth. I love Corinne Bailey Rae's version.

The album River: The Joni Letters is a beautiful offering from Herbie Hancock. Highly recommended.

Turn down the lights and close your eyes. Sit in the shadow of some twinkling lights. Let yourself think beyond December for a moment....

Friday, December 18, 2009

Why Do You Go To Church?

Mark Batterson is a wise man.

Here's something he said this week:

"I think one of the primary problems we face in Western Christianity is the simple fact that so many people view going to church as an end instead of a means to an end. Let me explain. For those who subconsciously view church as an end in and of itself, going to church is the way they do their religious duty. They check church off the religious list. But do you really think God's ultimate dream for our lives is to sit in a pew for ninety minutes?

Going to church isn't an end. It's a means to an end. The real test is how we live out our faith Monday to Friday. That's where the rubber meets the road. Church is the locker room talk or the boardroom talk. Choose your metaphor. It's not the game. It's not the business. It prepares us for the game of life, the business of life."

What do you think? What does going to church mean in your life?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

blue christmas recap

This was the scene tonight as we closed our blue christmas service.

It was a meaningful night for me. The thought of a service like this has been brewing in my heart for over a year. Our production team took the idea and ran with it. Many hands and many creative ideas brought together some incredible musicians, a powerful message, beautiful service elements, kind and gentle hearts and even a harpist (an incredible musician!)

The older I get, the more I find that I react powerfully, internally, to things that a decade ago would have caused energetic and verbose reactions. Tonight was a good example. I am tired, preoccupied, distracted, and a tiny bit overwhelmed. But deep inside, my soul is satisfied.

I won't forget tonight. I am already looking forward to next year's blue christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I'm getting married.

In eleven days.

I'm just sayin'.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feeling That Christmas Spirit

I took a trip into Richmond today with Zach and Sarah. We stopped by The Jefferson Hotel to scope out good locations for photos.

The Christmas decorations are up, and all I can say is, "O, my!"

It's stunning. Beautiful. Elegant. Charming. Classy. Breathtaking. Awesome.

This Christmas season will be unlike any other I have ever experienced. There is a richness underneath everything leading up to Christmas Day - and The Day After - that I am savoring.

It's remarkable. Unbelievable, really.

I'm excited.


HT to The Richmonder for the photo, taken at last week's tree lighting.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thank You Thank You Thank You

I got this phone call today.

"Are you sitting down?"

I did.

"We met with the doctor. About the mass in my lung."

Deep breath.


Hands flapping wildly, tears flowing freely - and with every breath, "Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you...."

Look Who Came To Visit PCC Today!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Earth Stood Hard As Iron

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone
Snow had fallen - snow on snow
Snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter, long long ago

Christina Rosetti wrote this poem in 1872. It has been set to music and recorded by many musicians in many styles. Recently, I discovered this version by Corrinne May that quickly became one of my favorites.

We are using a similar version of this song for our Blue Christmas service. We're trying something new this year, in an effort to honor the challenges of the holiday season faced by so many. Blue Christmas is designed to honor those who are grieving during Christmas, whether it is the loss of a loved one, separation from family or friends, the death of a dream or sadness caused by some other set of circumstances. It will be a very special evening. I encourage you to come.

Blue Christmas
December 17th, 7:00 PM
@May Memorial Church
Powhatan Village

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Here!

Every year, for the past two decades, the Christmas spirit has settled upon me at various, unexpected moments. I never know when or how it will be ushered in. Last year, it came like this. The year before, like this.

Sometimes the falling snow is key. Sometimes it's a song, like when my friend Helen sang the angels down at Joshua Baptist Church years ago. Sometimes it's Charlie Brown.

This year, it was a late afternoon realization that slightly inclement weather - i.e. some wet snow - caused the cancellation of the evening's planned activities. Miraculously, all of us were going to be home on Saturday evening.

Sarah and I were driving home from Richmond - in the snow - when the call came. We decided to make a detour and pick up a tree. After some discussion, we thought we could get away with an artificial tree this year; after all, we're overwhelmingly busy. Nobody was going to go out to cut a tree in this weather, although that's been a fine tradition. We called the house, told the other kids to get the stuff out of the attic and get ready - that we were getting an artificial tree on the way home.

Shannon was adamant. "This is just WRONG!" she exclaimed.

Then I called Tony to fill him in on our plans. "NO WAY!" he exclaimed.

We had two very virulent protesters of our plan - not the decorating, but the artificial part.

So, we relented. By the time we got home, Tony had a real tree in the house and we had the makings of a good dinner in hand. We spent a few hours getting the decorations up. Harry Connick sang us through, with both his recent Christmas records. Syd put the star on the tree. A good time was had by all.

Traditions are so powerful. They bind us to who we were, and give us insight into who we are yet to be. Last night was special, and provided another opportunity for buckets of grace-filled memories.

And the Christmas spirit? It landed hard all around us, as Sarah and I walked through the drizzling snow in the Lowe's parking lot, singing "Winter Wonderland".

It's here.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

This was the interesting nativity scene this year; Joseph's head turned up in a box. It was, honestly, a relief, as this was the scene two years ago:

I guess we'll never know what really happened...

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.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

100.1 Degrees

I did something very unusual today; I called in sick to work.

On a Sunday.

A friend called this afternoon and told me that she didn't really notice that I wasn't there.

That's good.


David's been sick since Friday afternoon with a fever and congestion; some variance of the mess that's going around this county like crazy. I'm not sure whether it's H1N1 or a virus or a cold or what - but he's sick. Last night he woke me up around 3:00 AM with crazy jibberish and tears and cold sweats. It scared me; I had read up on H1N1 last night just to be sure I knew what to look for - just in case - and they made mention of possible neurological issues along with the respiratory challenges of this illness to children.

At that point, I knew I would stay with him, although I had already made plans for somebody else to cover for me this morning so that I could lead worship while David stayed home. I changed my mind.

I called some key folks at 6:00 AM to let them know that adjustments would have to be made.

They adjusted, I stayed home and watched David sleep until noon and was at complete peace with my decision.

The more I let go, the more I learn. Life goes on without me.

Church goes on without me.

There are days when I appreciate that. Today was one, when my son was snuggled against me, sleeping off his illness and feeling safe.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Have A Relationship Now

I got one of these today.

I feel so incredibly blessed.

And inspired to create.

It's interesting that a piece of machinery can evoke such a response; but this one does.

There are musical and photographic and film projects lurking in my head that I intend to coax out, with the help of this lovely little glowworm.

I've wanted a Mac laptop for a long time.

Seems like the older I get, the more I am inclined to appreciate quality. Maybe that happens naturally as you mature.

I'm learning to value - and invest in - the best of the best.

Applications abound.

Tonight, let's limit it to the MacBook Pro.

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Your Spiritual Life Matters

"We like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, “Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else’s business.” But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.

Jesus says, “No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let’s not have “double lives”; let us allow what we live in private to be known in public." - Henri Nouwen

I believe this to be true.

The privilege of speaking on Sunday morning and revealing the truth about my past continues to resonate with me. Truth-telling is healing.

This process has been long; it began years ago and culminated in many ways with Sunday's talk. But it continues still. Countless people have contacted me via email and Facebook to raise their hand, to say, "Me too!", to get something off of their chest, to tell me about further conversation that happened in their family.

If you are one of those people, how I wish you knew how much company you had!

I continue to need to read words like Nouwen's above, and to be reminded that every day must be lived with intentionality. Walking in the light is a choice.

HT to Cynthia, my blogging friend, who wrote about her weekend here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Giants, They Fall

Giants do die
The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Last year, my kids turned me on to radio station 104.7 here in Richmond. I love turning it on and finding new (to me) songs that have some powerful messages.

Giants, they die
Just walk around your Jericho wall

I get stuck sometimes, caught listening to the same music, reading the same blogs, talking to the same people - forgetting that the world we live in is populated with vastly different people and ideas and styles of communication.

Now we come in Your name
And we stand on Your word
What is loosed in the heavens
Will be loosed on earth
Let God arise - giant, die!

And my life sometimes reflects just that - a boring regurgitation of what's familiar to me. Sometimes I catch it in my daily routine - other times, when I'm doing things that are more "spiritual".

Your praise will bring down strong holds
When you pray, you will see miracles
Just pray when things seem impossible
And the King of Glory will show His glory

So, yesterday I spent some time with a friend. She's facing some challenging circumstances in this season of life. We talked about practical matters, about future plans, about spiritual growth, about our passion for our friendship. Her attitude is great - she is ever the optimist, looking forward and upward, always able to see the positive, trusting that God is going to meet every need. She is inspirational in her ability to hold on to hope and to persevere.

But she's got some tough stuff going on.

So we talked, and I listened, and I prayed for her, and I continued to pray for her after we parted company.

When you praise/when you praise
When you praise they gotta come down
When you worship/when you worship
When you worship they gotta come down
When you shout/ just shout
When you shout they gotta come down

And this morning, on the way to my early breakfast meeting, this song that I heard yesterday on 104.7 came back into my head. Over and over and over. Odd, because I only heard it once - fleetingly - and yet it was firmly implanted in my brain.

And God reminded me that my perspective is oh so limited sometimes. Too many times. I get stuck in my way of prayer and care and concern and my outlook and I miss something awesome.

So, friend - can I have a do-over? (Yeah - ANOTHER one!) Can I just say this to you?

"Giants do die - the bigger they are, the harder they fall!"

That's for my friend - and for all of us. Whatever you are facing, no matter the challenge before you, our faith informs us of this: God works. And this song reminds me - when we worship, when we praise, when we shout - when we let God arise, those giants - no matter what they are - they gotta come down.

What are you facing today? Illness? Fear? Financial challenges? Frustration? Whatever your giant is - keep this in mind.

They gotta come down.

For my friend, and for anybody else who needs it.

Embedding is disabled, but do yourself a big favor and click over here to get a shot of inspiration.

(And just for the record, I'm watching this over and over and over and over at the office, driving my coworkers nuts, but I'm having a dancing good time.....)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

"I tend to be a little suspicious when I hear someone refer to large, vague categories of people. We often speak of “the poor” and “the rich,” as though those groups had unionized and were meeting regularly to decide policy and organize action committees. “If only the rich would be more generous,” one person bemoans, while a another says, “If only the poor would take advantage of their opportunities.” I’ve got news for you. The rich and the poor will never act in one accord because there are no such groups. There are only people. Some are rich, some are poor, most are in between, and all of them are individuals. And in the end, I believe that loving individual people is our first and highest calling."

Via Milton's blog, from Gordon's blog.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wine Or Grape Juice?

Michael Hyatt tweeted this quote this morning. I found it thought-provoking, and for some wild reason, it brought a huge smile to my face.

Why Jesus Used Wine Instead of Grape Juice
"Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink, especially on a warm afternoon mixed half-and-half with ginger ale. It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses.

“Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice, especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one.”
— Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Setlist 10.4.09

What a day at church today.

It's the second week of our WIRED series (if you don't yet have a devotional book, pick one up at the office this week or at the resource table at church).

Our community sadly is mourning the loss of Charlie Green, a fine man and passionate community servant. Because his funeral would be at the high school this afternoon (also our Sunday morning home), we made a few changes to our plans and shortened the second service considerably in order to accommodate the set up needs for the funeral.

We did not bring in the incredible set that our design team put together last week; just kept things bare today, with a minimal band. We also made a last minute change to the closing song to better connect the end of the message. I have to give major props to the band, who didn't blink when I brought them a new chart this morning. It's an amazing gift to work with such talented people who also have their hearts in the right place.

Here's what we did today:
Preservice: Rain Down - David Crowder This was extra special because Elijah Schiarelli emailed us a loop he created to open the song. He's away at college, but he was with us in spirit today. Great song, great loop, great way to walk in.
Lift Him Up - Martha Munizzi Love, love, LOVE this song. Inspired by seeing Bruce Hornsby live at The National, I had a blast playing for Sandy. I think we managed to rock this song to bits. One of my ALL-TIME favorite worship pieces.
scripture As I underscored on the grand, Angie read an excerpt from Isaiah 53, originally planned to support that passage later in the message. It ended up getting cut from the message, but it was a beautiful segue into the next tune.
Jesus Messiah - Chris Tomlin This tune seems to be a winner across the board - singable, Biblical, true. Powerful.
How He Loves - Jon Mark McMillan If you made it to the 9:30 service, you got to hear Matt Turner lead this tune (we lean into the David Crowder version). It was awesome. We had to cut it from the second service due to time - but it will reappear in the very near future.

Thirsty During the offering time, we showed this short video during first service (due to time constraints, we pulled the vid for second service. If you were at PCC today for the 11:00 service and missed it, you can check it out here).
Worth It All - Rita Springer A great song to close the message and emphasize the point: it is worth it all, no matter what, in light of Jesus.

There are days when I really, really love my church - the experience, the teamwork, the unity, the worship we offer. today was one. Don't get me wrong - I am always grateful for the faith community that is Powhatan Community Church. But today was unique, from the musical team to the set up and tear down crew that worked so hard, with such great attitudes.

It was, indeed, a very good day.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist Carnival hosted by Fred McKinnon. Hop on over to Fred's blog to find out what other churches did today...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How To Read The Bible

Read a great post today by Kem Meyer. She lists her suggestions for the top five places to start reading the Bible.

~Acts ... to learn about the Church
~James ... essential wisdom for daily living
~Ecclesiastes ... an expose of the arrogant and ignorant expectations we fall victim to
~Proverbs ... practical quotes, sayings and images for the here and now

I thought it was great, concise advice. What do you think?

Read Kem's entire post here.

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.