I slumped into my mini van tonight at just after 5pm.  It had been a long day already and I was feeling tired.  discouraged.  disheartened.  My set list for the night's practice was not ready, and nothing about it felt right.

I've said many times that I love my job, and it's true I do.

However, there is the artistic side of the worship planning I do that can produce the same angst that any artist knows well.   Maybe for you it's when your painting looks great to everyone else, but you see the space that's missing...something.  Maybe it's your scrapbook layout that looks a little off, or your cake that is a little...different.

Art can be anything, and for me it's music and scripture.  The Spirit leads and the most days the set comes together without too much trouble, but every once in a while it comes with much struggle.  The song sheets pile high as nothing feels right or works or sounds exactly like I hear it in my head.

Like I say, angst.

But after the struggle, I humbly present my offering to the Lord and to my team and they receive it with grace.  My friend strums his guitar to the opening song (too familiar? too over-done?) and his lovely wife starts to play the piano.  The song begins to come alive and the Spirit nudges, "See? I told you it was the right one."

Another friend walks in and looks at the closing song and exclaims, "I was just playing this song earlier today!  Man, I love that song!"

Song by song we rehearse and my spirit rises with the beauty of the music, the truth of the lyrics and by the hand of the Spirit.

And when we finish, we rush down the hall to start our choir rehearsal where I introduce one of our Easter selections.  My flesh worries "will they like it?"  At the first notes of the song, the fun begins!  Everyone loves the song, enjoying the challenge of the score.  There is laughter and singing and praise to our risen Lord.  These are my friends who I also get to sing with!  Thank you, Lord!

I lock up the church and hop back into my mini van at 9:50pm.  I find myself smiling as I drive back home and then I find myself praying.  Thanking the Lord for His goodness and provision.  Thanking Him for music, for struggle, for truth and for friends.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
 because you, brother, 
have refreshed the hearts 
of the Lord’s people. 
(Philemon 1:7)



i always get a little mushy on this day.

valentine's day.

i know most people are "chill" about it saying it's a made up holiday to sell cards and flowers, but i love it.  my feeling is, if there's one day when you're kind of forced into telling the people in your life how much you love them and why, that can't be a bad thing!  let it propel you into lovin' on your loved ones for the other 364 days of the year!

so today i'm a little mushy and i'm thinking back once again.

and when i get mushy, i pull out old photos.

this is the first photo i have of just the two of us.  
it was an anniversary party for my aunt and uncle and i asked my dad to try and "sneak" a picture of us together.

this one is from Christmas Eve.  
he started coming to our traditional family gathering in 1995 and we still go every year (with our 3 kids!).

this was his birthday party thrown by his mom.
was i surprised to see party hats at a 29th birthday?
why yes, i was!

this was the last summer before we were married.
we're at camp - "our" camp.
the place that brought us (and many others) together;
where we fell in love 
(and always fall a little more in love when we serve there each summer).

the next summer!
august 8, 1997
someone gave me this snapshot of us just after we said 
"i do!"

this was taken at our dear friends' wedding.
we had just celebrated our last christmas as two.
little did we know what the Lord had in store for us in 2000!

i am so thankful to have many happy memories to look back on
even when there were (and will continue to be) 
rough patches and deep waters.
i know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are an excellent fit as partners and i praise God that we continue to have lots of fun together - with the kids, and plenty without!

love u, G!



Have you thought about practicing Lent this year?

I actually kind of forgot it was coming up so quickly....as in tomorrow it starts.  I was reminded when I read Ann Voskamp's blog - she explains it really well.

A Holy Experience
link to post

When I started searching for ways to do it as a family, I found this really interesting looking daily devotional with some neat ideas.

Then as I continued searching and started thinking about the Holy Week services I'll need to start planning, I came across this video.

What a beautifully illustrated story of Jesus in the wilderness.  How He loves us.  How He gave Himself - Him Self - up for us.

What can I give up, even for just a few weeks to practice sacrifice, to practice dying to myself...to gain life in Him?



yes, i took this just as the light turned green.
the drummer is the light in the middle of the picture.
Last night as I was heading out for the evening, I got stopped at a stoplight very close to home.  I had just missed the light, so I knew I would be there for a couple of minutes.  Some movement caught my eye.  I looked up toward to the apartment block directly in front of me and found the window where something was happening inside.

It took me a second to realize what the person was doing, but somehow, I couldn't take my eyes off that little rectangle of light.  I saw that this person was playing the drums!  All I could see was the bob of their head to rhythm of their own beat and the rise of their sticks, but I knew that's what they were doing.  It looked so fun! I wanted to be in there listening.  (Though I did hope it was electric drum pads he or she was playing, what with the apartment living and all!)

"Practice, practice," I encouraged him silently in my head. "You will get better and better and enjoy you instrument more and more as you practice."

I suddenly remembered a blog post I read the other day about the benefits of music lessons for children.  I agreed with it all (naturally) but one part stuck out to me as something I hadn't thought of before.  Number 2 on list of benefits was that practicing is a lesson in perseverance.  Oh, that's so true!  Why have I never thought of it like that?  At the time I planned to encourage my kids with this truth to assist them in getting their practicing done.

But last night the lesson was for me.

I've recently gotten myself into a situation where I'm doing something I don't feel very good at and am not enjoying.  I've wished I could quit, but I feel kind of trapped (which makes me want to hide under the covers, makes me actually wish for the flu...).  I've asked the Lord if there's a classy way to get out this, but until last night I hadn't heard what He wanted from me.

I watched that drummer practice (and almost missed the green light!) and I knew the Lord was telling me,

"Practice, practice.  You will get better and enjoy it more as you practice.  You will learn as you persevere."

Honestly, not the answer I was hoping for, but knowing you're going in the right direction is always an encouragement!

What are you practicing these days?



If you struggle with a little unofficially-named disorder called "People Pleasing" you will know that there are times when people can appear very, very scary.

There is a reasonable side to pleasing others that says you will seek to put the needs of others ahead of your own, in Christ-like fashion, but also know that you can't please everyone all the time.  There will be times that people don't agree with decisions you make, and that's OK.

That sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

If you are silently answering, "yes, but...." then you probably have the same disorder I fight.

People Pleasing can be debilitating and will produce stomach churning anxiety.  You will worry about what someone thinks, but not just in a calm, rational way.  You will turn that worry over and over and over until you feel something similar to motion sickness.  You will attempt to predict how they will respond - usually with the worst case scenerio.  You will want to avoid the Scary Person (who is, you realize, just a person....not so scary, but you can't stop seeing them through scary lenses).  You will tell yourself you are virtuous because, really, you just want them to be happy.  You tell yourself you just want to please them, when really what you want to do is jump up and down in front of them and cry,

"please, please like me!  don't be mad at me!  please accept me!  PLEASE!"

This is no way to live (I tell myself).

In the midst of some strange and very specific rules for the Israelites in the book of Leviticus, there are five verses that jumped off the page into my people-pleasing heart yesterday.  (From chapter 18:1-5)

Then the Lord said to Moses, 
“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. 
I am the Lord your God. 
So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, 
or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. 
You must not imitate their way of life. 
You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, 
for I am theLord your God. 
If you obey my decrees and my regulations, 
you will find life through them. 
I am the Lord.

I hear the Lord reminding me:  Don't look at how other people live.  Don't try and do things the way they do them just because you think they'll like you more.  Don't worry about what they think about the decisions you make.  Look at Me!  Look at Me and please Me.  Not because you're bound to rules but because I AM the One who gives you life.  I AM your Lord.

The disorder will not go away over night and the knot in my stomach is still there to a degree, but now it serves as a reminder to surrender my worries, my identity to Jesus.
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