Archive for the 'Thoughts' Category


My Holy Hangover

First off: Mad props to Shawn for the term Holy Hangover.
So what is a Holy Hangover? It’s what we in the ministry affectionately call that feeling we get on Monday Morning. Especially after a day like yesterday:

  • 1:30 – going to bed b/c we are at the beach and get to sleep in tomorrow morning!
  • 7:30 – Up and packing
  • 8:30 – Breakfast
  • 9 – Lead worship for last weekend retreat session
  • 10:30 – Say goodbye and pack up
  • 11:30 – Grab a bite to eat
  • 12 – On the road!…with 2 kids..ugh….
  • 4:10 – Backing trailer into the driveway…Orange Beach -> Baton Rouge in 4 hrs! BOOYAH!
  • 4:15 – Pulling out of the driveway in Rae’s car
  • 4:38 – Youth group! (8 mins late)
  • 6:20 – Wrapping up Youth (20 mins late but was so worth it! Amazing youth tonight!)
  • 6:30 – Changed and off to downtown
  • 7 – Arrived at Whitney’s Celebration Service for 10 Years at First Pres.
  • 8:10 – Hugging and goodbyes
  • 9 – Eating lunch…dinner…um…whatever
  • 9:30 – Check emails put on Psych! It was a Bollywood theme!
  • 11 – Heading to bed. Probably one of the earliest in months…years?

And voila: Monday Morning’s Holy Hangover.

How are you feeling this morning?


Dissecting a Worship Service

I’ve been thinking about service flow lately and we’ve discussed it at our Worship Planning meetings back at River as well. I thought it’d be pertinent to write down the flow and see how it is you do things differently and how we do things differently: 

Preservice – Chris Tomlin music playing. Lights are bright. Media displaying announcements

10:58 – Band kicks up some instrumental vamping with guitar leading. Lights come down. Media displays ambient movement. 

11:03 – Band wraps up. Lights come up. Pastor welcomes and gives the morning announcements. 

11:07 – Invited to stand. Pray and a sort of call to worship is given that goes into: greet those around you! 
Wraps up with a video of the current sermon series. Lights out. 
Invited to stand. Pray. Musical portion of worship begins. House lights out on stage, and stage lights in effect.
Minimal house lights in congregational. 
AlwaysBlessed Be Your Name – prayer – Surrender – prayer 

11:24 – Morning offering is taken while the band plays an original piece written by the Worship Leader. Ends with prayer. Lights change b/w the time when it’s just the band and when the worship leader asks the congregation to sing along. Not asked to stand but asked to sing and lights help facilitate. 

11:31 – Live feed of pastor begins Scripture and Sermon. Lights out on stage and house lights up. Not 100% but brightest of the morning. 

12:08 – Stand and sing song of response. Stage lights back and house lights return down.
I am Free 

12:15 – Prayer. Condensed ‘announcements’ (more like brief reminder) and Benediction is given. 
Band vamps out loudly and boisterously a chorus and outro of I am Free. Lights up. 

Postservice – Chris Tomlin music playing. Lights are bright.  

I really liked this flow! I LOVED getting the announcements out of the way! Worried about how they’d transition with the meet & greet but having that up front was really cool too! It really felt like the whole morning was ‘worshipful.’ 

Kudos First Pres!

Outlined in the bulletin it looks like: 

Call to Worship

Blessed Be Your Name

Offering: Every Nation

Scripture & Sermon
Proverbs 22:7, 3:26-28
Plastic Slavery
Economy of God – Part 3 Dr. David Swanson

I Am Free


How do you do it? Like or dislike this flow?


My Top 10 CDs of 2008

I find this a fun way to look back at the year of music that I’ve collected. (For kicks and giggles compare this list to last year’s!) Here’s my favorite CDs that were released in 2008: 

10. Soundtracks! – Officially, shouldn’t be on the list here but soundtracks these days have become so much more than what they used to be! So I listed them last. These 3 are in steady rotation! 

Twilight SoundtrackJuno SoundtrackOnce Soundtrack
– Hate all you want. Crime upon crimes, I still haven’t seen the movie and I LOVE this compilation! 
Juno – Quirky, absurd, bizarre, unpolished, just like the movie! 
Once – Seriously, you already have this one right? I don’t need to say anything more. 

9. Live Music! – Again, officially shouldn’t be here so they’re last as well.

SingalongWhere the light is
Phil WickhamSingalong –  I knew this guy was special when he captivated my attention sandwiched between The Myriad and The David Crowder Band at the House of Blues! His studio work is full and rich and textured and yet here stripped down to nothing more than his guitar, his voice, and the voices of those gathered for an incredible night of worship, this captures the talent and heart of Phil Wickham. It’s disgusting that you get it for free from his website! 
John Mayer Where the light is  I KNOW, not officially a CD of 2008 because they’re all previously recorded songs from past CDs but you tell me an artist out there that can showcase his talent at 1 live show in 3 different settings like this and bring so much passion and energy and raw talent and I’ll take it off. Nab the DVD with it and sweet Jesus. It just doesn’t stop! It probably should be #1 on here!

8. Local Music! – More than shameless plugs, two bands on the bubble!  
A Soup Named StewNumber 2 – David and Company have perfected the art of Comedic Rock and packaged it in a top notch way that trumps the kind of attention “local bands” are giving to the good old CD packaging. If anything, Number 2 gives you more than you need sink your teeth into ASNS. 
Lindsay Rae SpurlockHeart On A simple EP that packs a mean punch, well honestly there’s nothing mean at all to Lindsay but this EP sweeps from poppy finger-snapping to soft tenderness. 6 songs barely scratches the surface to well of music coming from this girl!

7. Pocketful of sunshineNatasha BedingfieldPocket Full of Sunshine I mean seriously, you’d think the girl had 2, maybe 3 CDs drop this year but nope, it’s all been on the same one. And for somebody that’s seen her live, the girl’s legit! Pipes, moves, charisma. Bring it on, I don’t care, probably my secret favorite of the year.
6. Day and AgeThe Killers – Day and Age – I’ll preface this by saying, ‘Yes, I loved Sam’s Town too!’ Day and Age finds The Killers doing what they do best again. Creating something different. Boisterous, over the top, metaphorical, danceable, rockin’, tribal, jazz, Gloria Estefanish, spacey…BRING IT ON! 

5. Your Kingdom ComeMatt PapaYour Kingdom Come Hands down the best worship and/or rock CD you don’t own! This follow up to You Are Good boasts a fluid 18 track monument mixed with the writings of Derek Webb/Charlie Hall and a variety of mad skills on the piano and guitar and vocals that breeds a breadth of variety in his music that’s absolutely stellar!

4. RedWeezerRed – I’m laughing with the thought of this even being on this list but that’s how good it was. Superbly tongue-and-cheek as is Weezer but done amazingly well. Guitar tones thick and rich. And in the midst of themselves a quant, beautiful little diddy called Heart Songs gets me misty every time! 

3. The Bright SadnessCharlie Hall – The Bright Sadness – What a project! What a worship experience! What a musical delivery! I’ve always loved Charlie’s heart and his style of writing. I never thought he got enough props for his earlier releases. Flying into Daybreak got them some attention and The Bright Sadness is a masterpiece of a followup combining the new sound they’re embracing with authentic Charlie Hall!

2. Narrow StairsDeath Cab for CutieNarrow Stairs I’ve been an on the fence fan of Death Cab and Postal Service and Nada Surf and such for years now but for some reason this one pushed me over the edge! It’s on my iPhone and on CD in my truck! 

1. Viva La VidaColdplay – Viva la Vida (Prospekt’s March Edition) – Love ’em or hate ’em I don’t know if there was a harder working band in the business this year than Coldplay and their assault with Death and all his friends! Viva la Vida just doesn’t get old for me. Eno did enough to make it sparkle and shine from X&Y and the fluid nature of this project was a nice touch. The wait was worth it!


So there you have it. I might have got it wrong so I made sure to give you more than 10 🙂 
I initially thought this year was a poor year for music but after looking at this list, I’m not so sure anymore. This was much harder to compile and sort out than last years!

While you’re at it, check out what my blogging brother had to say about 2008!


The Office Surplus

The Surplus

An episode with Cousin Mose is an episode to talk about! Haha. Unfortunately, I’m a tad worried. It appeared many people were put off by last week’s episode and I thought it was a hoot! This week, I felt it was contrived and well…silly at times. 
Coming from a banking background, I’m so glad that end of the year Over/Underages and Profits/Losses and such are no longer something I deal with in Youth Ministry! If for nothing else, that in itself made this episode ironically humorous! 


The Scranton branch has a little surplus and Michael is thrust into the perilous decision of choosing a new copier for the branch, new chairs for himself, or keeping 15% of it for himself. Michael’s desperate need for love and acceptance from his subordinates won’t allow hiim to make the decision which is where plenty of awkward humor, a ballsy Jim, and…well a ballsier Pam step forward…with make up! 

Andy and Angela check out Shrute farms for the wedding and honestly it’s just shameful with a few good laughs sprinkled throughout. 

Thoughts and Quotes

Why don’t you explain it to me like I’m 5. – Michael Scott

Exactly! That should tell you how terrible the chairs are! – Pam 

You are the silent killer! Go back to the Annex. – Michael to Toby PRICELESS! PRICELESS!!

I swallowed all your ideas. I’m going to digest them and see what comes out the other end. – Michael

Walk until you hear the bee hive. – Andy


How is it possible in 5 years I’ve had 2 engagement rings and only 1 chair? – Pam

Beasley with makeup!


Why is that in the kitchen?!?! – Andy

Mose hitting Andy in the back of the head!

This chair is erkelnomically correct. – Michael

Number 1: Thanks to me, my team is much much faster at coming to decisions than I thought they would be.
Number 2: Never buy a fur coat with a credit card until you absolutely have the money to pay for it. 
And number 3: You should know people think it’s funny throw buckets of fake blood on you walking out of Burlington Coat Factory. – Michael


Sunday Worship Sept. 28th – The Desert

I find myself in an interesting predicament now at my church. I’m the previous Worship Leader who’s now doing Youth Ministry but still involved in the worship planning meetings we have but with a new worship leader who’s style and direction is different than mine. That’s not the difficult part. I don’t believe there is one correct style of worship that is pleasing to God. However, the rub comes from sitting in on our worship planning meeting and knowing the direction and intention of the service to come on Sunday and therefore, I have the built up excitement and giddiness that something “good is coming up” and then when it doesn’t…uh…can I say this outloud?…I feel a bit jipped. 

So here’s what happened: 

  • Open the Eyes of My Heart
  • Everlasting God
  • Sermon
  • Hungry w/ Scripture readings between the verse/choruses
  • Communion
  • Your Love oh Lord
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • I Need Thee Every Hour 

So we tossed the service around a bit this past Sunday. We wanted to create a corporate, fluid time of worship after the sermon. Psalm 63 was the focus and it was about a desire to worship God with our whole selves. The message concluded with a rallying cry, if you will, to engage in worship in a new way. Clap, move, kneel, raise hands, sing, remember, etc. with the intention of moving into an intimate setting to bring us to communion and then celebration afterwards.

…and I was distracted…

Moving in to this intimate time, the lights were full on and everything completely lit up. The music was so quiet it felt awkward to sing out. The tempo of each of the songs were all the same and only lent themselves to a reflective time of either raising your hand or kneeling. We sat, we stood, we took communion, we sat, we stood, it felt stiff and robotic.  I truly felt like the David we just read about, in the desert yearning and thirsting for God and not being satisfied. 

Rae helped me realize that I overly criticize (which I do!) and that most people didn’t pick up on anything that I had a problem with. We then remembered seeing several people raising their hands, with a few taking advantage of our kneelers as well. 

As I type this, I wonder if it’s God’s way of prodding me to think less of the things we do in worship and more of the One we worship. It’s not like that’s something I don’t know already. It’s the delicate balance of being aware of the subjective, human side of things that happen on Sunday morning and the otherly, supernatural God side of things that happen on Sunday morning. The pendulum can swing too far in either direction and disaster happens, I think I need to let me pendulum settle.

As always, check out the rest of the Carnival over at Fred’s site where all this gets started each week!



We just completed practice for Easter Sunday. I think that is the response I’m going to get this Sunday. It’ll be said behind smiling faces as well as grimacing faces. I’m really confused and my head is telling me I just ruined Easter at River but my heart is telling me this is going to be the best Easter ever! (You should know I’ve only ever done 2 other Easters in the history of me being a worship leader so “best ever” is kind of relative.) Here’s what is going down:

  • Happy Day – Tim Hughes: slammin’, rockin’, awesome
  • Joyful, joyful we adore Thee – DC*B arranged, Charlie Hall performed: we’ve done this one many times already but it again is pretty slammin’
  • In Christ Alone – Matt Papa’s version: incredible tune and very dynamic but ends…you guessed it: slammin’
  • You’re Beautiful – Phil Wickham: gorgeous song and again is very dynamic but for the most part is pretty mellow-ish
  • Wonderful Cross – Robbie Seay’s version: verses are small and choruses are big. Some would probably use the word “slammin'”
  • Amena Brown Resurrection video – Definitely current, modern, new and fresh.
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today – Conner Byrd’s interpretation thanks to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer: exactly the same melody everyone is familiar with but with a cool stutter drum beat. Some would probably use the word “rockin.'” I wouldn’t but it’s definitely a bit more in your face with the presence of the drums.

So my brain says:

  • Geez Conner can’t you leave anything well enough alone? Why do you have to screw up the golden oldies? Why can’t you just leave them the way they are. Everyone who likes those songs likes them the way they were and now you’ve just meddled with greatness. Thanks for ruining Easter!

But my heart says:

  • Man this is soo great! Look, we’re doing 3 hymns this weekend and if hymns were done this way when I was growing up maybe I’d be more into hymns! What a great collaboration of the old and the new! Those 2x a year attenders are going to eat this stuff up! I can’t wait for Easter!

Then my brain reminds me:

  • What a dumb setlist! The chord progressions for You’re Beautiful and Wonderful Cross are EXACTLY THE SAME! The tinkering in Happy Day and Wonderful Cross are basically THE SAME! The shuffle beat you love happens in 2 songs! Geez what a bland and boring service this is going to be!


  • Oh man that cool little tinkering guitar tone is sprinkled everywhere! Awesome! This version of Wonderful Cross is new and is going to spark new interest in a song we’ve done time and time again! Awesome! Christ the Lord is Risen… it like a new song! AWESOME! We’ve got the best of both worlds! AWE-SOME!

Somewhere inside me I don’t know if I’ve just created the service I wanted so badly or the one that River wants? I mean I know I’m the Worship Leader but I think this is what makes it so difficult because I do know that there are people in our congregation who will totally think I ruined Easter. They’ll probably assume I’m being self-indulgent and selfish and this is my way of tossing up the middle finger on my way out as Worship Leader. The crazy thing is that the worship planning team told me that Joyful, You’re Beautiful, and Happy Day were green lights! They asked me to try and do Christ the Lord is Risen… even after I told them it wouldn’t be traditional and led on the keys. At this point however, I don’t know what else to do. Tomorrow is Thursday and Easter is 3 days away. I’ve worked really hard already on all this stuff that to toss one would be painful…ugh…

Is this how Holy Week goes for everybody else?




I woke up that morning to the alarm clock going off to Kidd Kraddick in the morning. Instantly, the mood was different. They weren’t joking and kidding around. There was this stunned tone almost with a loss of words for what had happened just minutes earlier. I remember initially laughing and thinking it was a War of the Worlds bit or something. Then slowly, the realization settled in that this wasn’t something they were kidding around with a prank caller on or having Big Al pretend to screw up. I remember I was living my my parents that semester and they were in the kitchen making breakfast as I quickly came down the hallway and slowly turned on the TV and switched it to the local news. I even changed it to Fox News, to CNN, to the other local news to double check and see if this was really ‘real.’

I called to my parents as I saw this building in New York on flames. We were so confused by the whole thing when we saw this plane hit the building next to the smoking one. It wasn’t recorded or a replay, it was live. It was the freakiest thing I had ever seen in my life. I sat there in the living room (the TV on the opposite wall that it’s on right now) just dazed. Mostly confused and baffled but actually afraid. There is nothing in my memory to date that has stuck out in my mind so prevalent. I have 1 vague, fuzzy memory when the Berlin wall fell. I have a full day etched in my memory. I have weeks of feelings, a year’s anniversary of churning it all up again, and more.

I finally ate and showered and made it to campus for my last class of the day. The buzz on campus was weird. People had all kinds of stories and rumors. There weren’t any strangers that day in class. People were in conversation with everyone about what they saw, heard, the latest news, what was going to happen next. It’s wild what tragedy does to people.

I remember watching for weeks the footage of the rescue workers fighting for salvation of the people in the rubble. I had never felt so overwhelmed in my entire life. The call from my dad that my cousin’s husband had an appointment there that afternoon just hours after the tragedy struck. Rae and I watched together the following year the tributes on TV. The memorials seemed countless. We saw an art exhibit one time with paintings inspired by what happened. We saw the movies made and shorts to commemorate the brave as well as the unfortunate.

Then it was just a few short years later that we were pregnant with our 1st daughter. Her birthday is Sept. 15th. The feelings that week of if she was going to be early and what that would mean. I’m struck by how far we’ve fallen as creatures of sin. I’m also in awe of a God who still embraces us. I want to live a life worthy and significant and full of love for those around me. I want my daughter to know there is real evil out there but that she can be real goodness as well. That we have a choice to make and that choice can be difficult but the reward is worth the cost to make the most of what we’re given while we’re here.

I wrote out this post last night around 12:30 AM when I figured out today was September 11th. This date is such a strange one for me. Thanks to many of you however, I read your posts and felt ‘normal.’ It was so incredible as I checked my Reader today and saw pictures of American flags, stories of memories, conviction of loving our enemies, hurt for the lost. Thank you:



especially you Dustin



When you don’t wanna…

I’ve got to say, ya’ll got me on the 24 bandwagon but this 2nd half of the season of LOST is kicking some major freakin’ butt! Especially these last few episodes and especially tonight! WOW! I don’t know if it was because I simply LOVE Hurley, venemously HATE Locke, enjoy Sawyer and think he’s one of the most underrated character actors on the show, enjoyed the tie in back story, or WHAT but I dug it.

Which leads me to what I want to talk about:

  • Sawyer: Well what if I don’t want to be the leader?
  • Hurley: I don’t think Jack wanted to be the leader either dude but hey that’s what happens. Good luck dude.

So that was horribly paraphrased but add in a sinister sneer from Sawyer and a couple more dudes from Hurley and you remember. How truthful was that whole dialog?!?! How often is our role so clearly laid out in front of us and obvious that we are blinded by it glaring us in the face?!?! We typically don’t even need a ‘Hurley’ to give us a reality check because we sure do come up with great excuses that help us validate our cop out to ignore the truth!

It is so easy to be righteously self centered! How often is our excuse: I don’t wanna! Now we may not verbalize that because only children actually come out and say, “I don’t wanna!” but that’s really what’s behind our facade of excuses or lack of action. We can make ourselves so comfortable by ourself that we immobilize who we were created to be! We sit in front of our created beaches and enjoy our view while shirking the responsibility we have as part of a community. And we’re all in a community. We all have a family, or a friend, or a church, or a spouse, or a team, or a band, or 2 or 3 of those that we interact with. The church just talks so openly about it! But it doesn’t mean they have it figured out. The age old used and abused analogy of the ‘body.’ We’re all needed and not one is more important than the other but equally significant. But it’s true. We create these dynamics in our groups and we become integral pieces of other people’s lives.

C.S. Lewis describes it as the fleet of ships metaphor. We’re all in formation with one another moving together. Or the band metaphor. Everyone being in a band together playing pieces of music. We can become so wrapped up with ourself thinking that what I want is of the highest regard. That I’m fine on my own. I have it going on. I’m sturdy enough by my self! And LOST beautifully portrayed that tonight with Sawyer! There wasn’t a more self absorbed, out of touch, into ME character on the show than Sawyer and tonight they put into frame what it’s like to function in a community. Sometimes, what YOU want isn’t what’s needed. And it’s not always easy. It’s not always comfortable. It’s not even something we may be good at doing. Isn’t that a hard one?

I know what my “I don’t wanna” is, do you?

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