Children Coming Home

Shannon with one of her new best friends from Macedonia.

Four of my five kids are home, after a long two weeks with only one or two here at a time.

I have yet to process this comletely, but when we were riding home from the airport, together again, I realized how completely incapacitated I have felt this week. I was physically sick, yes; but that wasn’t necessarily kid related (“Or WAS it???” asks a maniacal voice, sounding somewhat like my subliminal self….)
My four oldest children were gone, and I became incomplete.
Before my mom calls me up to tell me I’d better get used to it – that they’re going to all leave eventually – let me say that I’m prepared for that. In fact, although I miss Sarah, there’s something very natural about her absence. She’s 18. She just graduated. It’s time for her to fly.
But because motherhood and its responsibilities have dictated my every choice, every action, especially in the few years, this felt like a huge, gaping, sudden and unexpected wound. Even though it wasn’t.
Makes me wonder how ready you can ever be to watch someone walk away. Even if you’re sure they’re coming back.
Makes me wonder what lies underneath all that’s labeled “MOM” in me. Even though I’ve always been pretty sure I knew.
I’m a lot less certain of that than I expected I’d ever be.

The World Didn’t End!

Fighting some kind of physical ailment since Tuesday; I had to give in yesterday when the fever arrived. Seems like some sort of flu-type thing, with congestion, coughing, aches, headache and the afore-mentioned fever and chills.

Thankfully, the worst of it seems to have come and gone – I hope. I slept for about 24 hours straight, with a break to pick up David from Art Camp. I think that helped.
My friend Jim Hamacher left a comment on my Facebook status that said, “Maybe your body is trying to tell you something.”
I’ve thought about that today – a lot. Without the energy to check email/work on projects/worry about work, I just let everything go. And I slept.
And I’m amazed by two things:
  • The world didn’t end.
  • I’m really, really relaxed. In spite of being physically sick, I feel like I’ve regained some emotional energy.
Go figure. This is worth thinking about. I need to quit complaining about feeling so overwhelmed and do something proactive. It doesn’t seem like a good strategy to get sick every 12 weeks or so.

Temporarily Changed Dynamics

This week I’ve had time to wonder how my life might have been different.

If I’d had only one child.

If David had no siblings.

If I’d had my last child first.

If I didn’t work with Brian Hughes.

If I had to drive across the river for work every day.

If I didn’t seem to eat as an emotional outlet.

If I wasn’t relatively healthy.
With just David at home, it’s been fascinating to see the different dynamic. He’s calm and gentle and quiet. He doesn’t mind being alone. He’s a wonderful, warm kid. I think he spends his ‘normal’ life getting lost in the shuffle. I’ve enjoyed this time, and it prompts a huge desire in me to do better by him.
Brian is on vacation this week, and without the dynamic of our work relationship I can see a difference of sorts – in meetings, in energy level, in adrenaline, in intensity. I’m not sure what life and work would really be like for me without that partnership; I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing.
Taking David to Art Camp at Hope Church this week and loving the rhythm of getting up and getting on 288 every morning. I’m sure it gets tiring after a while, but it’s a new routine and I like it.
I’m not very hungry this week. I think I’m usually not really hungry, but that I eat out of stress nad nervous-ness and just all-the-stuff-going-on. I feel better. Healthier.
Frustrated, waiting on some results of medical tests that will give me some answers about some funky physical issues I’ve been having. The doctor seems to be in no hurry to get back to me, but I was told before I left last week that something was wrong. I’m not enjoying the wait. Tell me now. Please.
Reading this book this week; John Irving was always one of my favorite authors. The World According to Garp came out when I was in high school and it was a defining moment for me, meeting those characters. I even bought a Garp t-shirt and wore it – frequently – to school. Can’t quite get into this book – after Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules, it’s been tougher to stay focused on his novels. But I’m giving it a good try.
Thinking a lot about the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians this week, too. Good stuff.

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. Colossians 3.1-3

Trying to look up. I think it matters.

Looking Back – July 2006

Here’s another blast from the past; dated July, 2006, here’s a look back at what my kids were doing – and how I felt about it – three years ago. Some things don’t change a whole lot…

My children have surpassed me in experience; they have done this thing you see in the photo above (though those are some other mother’s kids in this photo – my kid took the picture). All four of the older kids rapelled down either a 40 foot or 70 foot drop while at camp this week. I’m stunned. I’m glad I wasn’t there to watch; I’d have chewed my fingernails off and peed myself, probably simultaneously.

I picked them up this morning and was initially a bit unnerved by the laid-back, old-fashioned environment at the closing assembly. Southern Baptist sponsored, it was simple and fundamental – somewhat cheesey. Lots of happy smiles and a declaration of the number of rededications and salvations read by the camp leader (Baptists love numbers, as I recall…) They sang several old worship songs, played energetically by the leaders but sung reluctantly by the campers.

However, as the morning went on, the energy level quickly rose. The power point show elicited cheers and screams as the kids had a quick tour down memory lane, and the parents and friends caught a glimpse of what they’d been doing all week, and how they’d looked doing it.

On the way home, and even after we sat down for dinner, I heard them relate every silly camp song ever sung, tales of rain storms and mountain climbing, emotional conversations, bonds with younger children, songs inspired by the week and the mountains and some unbelieveable interaction between my kids.

They have shared something together as siblings that will serve them well as they grow into adulthood. Another step towards independence, I guess; memories made and experiences shared that built strength and a committment towards one another. It’s very weird that I wasn’t there at all, only to drop them off and pick them up.

They had a great time.

Sunday Night

Continuing to think about what matters most to me. I get so terribly overwhelmed and posessed by the day-to-day details of life and my job that I lose sight of the horizon. Derek Webb poses a great question, regardless of the subject at hand. Sister, what matters most to you?

I’m still cogitating on that one.
My house is quiet and clutter-free. One child in Tennessee with his step-mom, three in Macedonia having an experience completely foreign to me (no pun intended; just an awareness that the broadness of my childrens’ lives is leaving me far behind). My youngest and I, discovering a new rhythm of life. We’re talking Legos and a shared fondness for ice cream.
Great time tonight with dear friends. I’m grateful that Kevin and Candy are present in my life.
Spent some good time with my mom today. We went shopping, which is not a typical bonding activity for us. It was good to be together for a few hours. I love my parents.
I had no responsibilities today at church. It wasn’t so bad. I’m learning to release my tight-fisted control and let others lean into leadership. It’s good.
I laughed last night, hard. My best friend does a great job reminding me of how to be human. I’m so blessed.
I am really hoping to gain some insight into how to organize my days and nights in a more sustainable pace. I’m running in circles.

Successful Church

Putting on my leadership hat to share this recent post from Craig Groeschel of (Check out his blog here.)

This really, REALLY made me think today.

I’m glad when God kicks me out of my comfort zone.
But it ain’t comfortable….
I will never be satisfied with a church filled only with people who know Christ. God longs for the “lost to be found.” But for years I found the greatest joy in more people coming to church.

Today, I’m redefining success to not just more people, but different people.

A few years ago, our church was experiencing record crowds of people. But we also had many people who’d been with us for years falling into major sins.

We seemed to be effective at getting people into Church, but were we truly getting people into Christ?

I’ve been set free from being totally driven by attendance. Instead I’m asking God to take those we have into a deeper place of intimacy and knowledge of Christ. I’d rather have fewer and totally committed believers than a large number of lazy, apathetic, carnally minded and unproductive cultural Christians. – Craig Groeschel
What do you think? What makes a church “successful”?

Sunday Setlist 7.5.09

I’ve been a bit erratic with my worship recaps lately, but today was so awesome that I wanted to share the love just a bit.

We wrapped up our series called Where’s My Bailout? with a dynamic set of music, a great group of players and a powerful message.
During this series, we addressed three areas of life: spiritual bailout (uh…that would be JESUS…), financial bailout (basically, let go…unclench your fist) and time bailout. Today’s sub-title was “When To Say No”.
And by the way – no nods to the July 4th holiday. When we’re honoring people – Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc. – we’ll sometimes lean into the observation of the holiday. But we choose to separate this particular celebration from our weekend experience.
The band was stellar – leaning heavily towards musicians under the age of 20. Jenn Hall (Jenn blogs here – you should check it out), Matt Turner, Travis Wagner, Elijah Schiarelli, Paul Myers – rounded out by Patrick Parkins, Dan McCown, Beth Humphreys and me. I enjoyed myself immensely today as a musician; I had complete confidence in the band and they never failed to be exactly where they needed to be. I’m in awe of the natural talent God places in people, and grateful to play alongside these extremely talented folks.
We opened with our 10B4 announcements and then did Washed By the Water as a musical opener. Great, great tune with a wonderful vibe – perfect for a summer day.
Our worship set consisted of Today is the Day and At the Name (which I like more and more each time we do it. Last summer Matt Christenot led worship for a World Changers event and the students brought this tune home with them. It’s becoming a staple for us – check it out!)
At the end of At the Name, we plowed right into Jesus Messiah; we put it in Eb for an easy transition and let Beth Humphrey lead it. I was surprised at how easy it was to have a female vocal lead this tune – that’s not always the case with Tomlin songs. We pushed it a bit faster but I loved the energy. Brilliant song.
We showed a promo clip from the upcoming Leadership Summit, which is something we usually don’t promote from the stage – but I feel strongly that this event can and will be defining for our church this year. I’m hoping to have 100 folks from PCC go this year! We’re serving as an assisting church with Saint Paul’s Baptist in Richmond and can’t wait to join them in preparing for this conference. It’s often life-changing.
After the offering prayer, we kicked off Fly Like An Eagle, with a terrific groove from Jenn The Drummer and Patrick, the King Of Grooves. We spun our own vibe on the song – Elijah did a great job with the Motif patches and I had fun playing through a Mac for the first time, since we needed an extra organ patch. I felt my age when somebody asked me, “Hey, didn’t Seal write that song?”
uh…Steve Miller, anyone? Remember him? From the 70’s?
Anyway, here’s the part that was really cool – after we finished the body of the tune – verse, chorus, verse, chorus – the band backed way off, our incredible tech team adjusted the mood of the room down, and we showed this video, made by The Veracity Project. We played the groove underneath the entire thing, and as the In Time ended, we brought the band back up to do the “time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking/into the future” bit and back out.
It worked. Sometimes our weird mash-ups fall short, but this one worked.
Brian brought an incredible message – powerful, convicting. God was speaking to me. When he said that allowing your schedule to be dictated by the needs and demands of others was the easy way out of accepting responsibility for how you invested your time, I listened. Hard.
Brian led us to the end by allowing everyone to simply sit still and be with God. Bob Pino came to the piano and sang, simply but powerful, Be Still and Know It was perfect, a gift of melodic grace.
It was, by far, one of the most meaningful overall worship experiences I’ve had at PCC.
This post is part of Fred McKinnon’s worship leader blog carnival. Check it out!