Monday, March 31, 2008

This weekend, as is usual at our house, I asked my children to straighten their rooms. Now be aware, I'm not obsessive about tidiness, but I do have a certain appreciation for order. There's something very gratifying about having a clean desk in my office or knowing that all the laundry is neatly tucked in appropriate drawers, so I'm always on the lookout for an occasion to put things in order.

One of my children, however, seems to struggle more with this concept than her sisters. In fact, throughout this school year we have been working with her teacher to instill in our child some basic organizational skills... According to her teacher, my daughter suffers from "the Organizational Flu."

Knowing this, and knowing also that the pace of my life frequently causes my office areas, both home and work, to land in varying states of chaos, I decided it could be a great occasion to help my child learn some basic organizational skills like sorting and arranging. After all, each time my office gets away from me, I've devised a system to get it back in order within a day. So, after breakfast, she and I were headed upstairs to tackle a project that has been growing for months, her desk drawers.

Now I knew the drawers were in disarray, but the extent of the clutter was far beyond anything I had imagined. There were CDs with no case, cases with no CDs, half drawn picture pages, capless markers, Happy Meal(R) toys, etcetera ad infinitum. The only common denominator was that few, if any, of the things in her desk actually belonged there.

I took a cleansing breath and prepared for what lay ahead. I explained to my daughter what we were going to do: We would pour all three drawers in the middle of the floor and she would sort the pile into groups containing items of like kind. We made a pile for trash, a pile for coloring books and artwork, a pile for pencils and pens... You get the idea. The act of sorting was rather enlightening. I learned about stories she had in her mind but hadn't captured on the page, about pictures she wanted to create, about friends in Texas that she misses... In retrospect, I can see so many things I learned about my child through this experience. In the moment, however, I was more captured with the fact that we located 4 movies from our family DVD collection, more than 20 books from the church library and that we created 3 grocery sacks of garbage from the epic mess in her desk.

I'll admit that it wasn't much fun for either of us. (At one point I had to simply walk away and breathe.) But, now that her room is completely straight, with everything in its proper place, I can totally say it was worth it. I hope she feels the same. We've talked about why things grew so out of hand and how we might have avoided it, and I believe she understands that it would only take the slightest effort to keep things in their place. I don't expect this will be the turning point in her bout with clutter; goodness knows I'm still frequently setting aside parts of days so I can get things back in order, but I do believe she is grasping that small investments of time and effort pay off in other ways. You see, for the 3-4 hours we worked in her room, hthey both read books and watched a movie. She never once told me it wasn't fair, because she knows that in the same way privilege brings responsibility, responsibility breeds privilege. Profound, huh?

When I awoke on Saturday I had no intention of investing a half day in teaching my daughter to clean her room, but the investment of helping her figure out how to do it will undoubtedly reap rewards later. In the meantime, I need to find a way to reclaim the time I lost while working with her... I'd planned to use that day to clean my office!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Weekend

People are so interesting... The things I think I know about people, generally speaking, are so often just slightly shy of reality!

For example, this past Friday evening we held a Tenebrae service at the church. BVBC has never, to my knowledge, had a Good Friday worship service, much less a Tenebrae, so I was skeptical about how people would attend and/or respond. There were some 200 people here that night, and I've heard numerous comments on how the Spirit moved in hearts through the experience. I don't know why that surprises me, as Tenebrae is always one of my favorite services of the year.

Then, on Easter Sunday, we had the privilege to see more than 900 people gather for worship as we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus! We baptized, sang, heard the WORD proclaimed, and saw the unmistakable manifestation of God's presence. What a day! The surprise in all of this was the level of commitment I asked of the volunteers in our music ministry... my band and praise team were in the building at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning; our choir turned out in full force not once or twice, but FOUR times between Friday and Sunday; our congregation accepted the challenge to park in another location and shuttle to the church on school buses... and the list goes on.

Just when I think I have my finger on the pulse of people, they go out and do things more amazing than I'd expected!

This photo was taken Sunday morning at the end of our third service...
I'll admit it: I like to write... So, to that end, I maintain a few weblogs aside from the one here. One blog hits my theater friends in Dallas... one is for the church where I work now... another is where friends congregate from my former church... another is the place where I volunteer in an outside ministry. Sometimes I copy the same post to all the blogs for the simple purpose of having something new for people to read. Sometimes I write different posts for each.

Last week I received word that there had been a comment posted on one of my blogs. (I love it when people respond to my posts. I feel like a child getting mail in the mailbox!) At my first free moment I popped over to that blog page and read the note. The writer told me how she enjoyed seeing my family, how grown up my daughter looked in her costume, and how nice it was to be back in touch after many years. In all it was a really uplifting post, but with one problem; it was signed, Sophie.

I don't know anyone named Sophie.

My next thought was that many people use a pseudonym when blogging, so Sophie had to be someone I knew. I followed the links from her comment to her blog where I saw pictures of her children, "MotorBoat, Yellow Bird and Sasha." There were even photos of her and her husband, "Leopold." As I looked at the photos, I had to wonder, "Who IS this person?!" It was driving me nuts... As I read on through many of Sophie's posts, I called my redheaded sweetheart to come over and help me unravel the mystery. She looked at the picture and said, "I don't know who that is." The guessing game went on for almost an hour when I noticed a reply to one of her posts from someone that I knew. So I emailed "Polly" and asked her to help me solve the riddle.

It turns out that Sophie was a friend in college who happened to be from my hometown. We were a couple of years apart in school, so we never met until college, and, as she was a nursing student and I a music major, our paths only crossed outside the classroom. Nonetheless, knowing who she was meant that I could finally enjoy all the things I'd learned about her and her family while searching out her identity.

Once the puzzle was solved I started looking for something I could learn from the experience. Perhaps the first and most obvious lesson is that people change in 20 years! It was intriguing to think that I have likely changed so much that people who knew me 20 years ago probably wouldn't immediately recognize me. That's not the reason I shared the story, though. The reason I write is simple. God used this experience to remind me that there are many people go through life playing guessing games when it comes to Him. They see His work and don't immediately connect it to His hand. They experience His provision and don't realize that it's a result of His caring for them.

All of that being said, be encouraged. God isn't hiding from You. He is at work all around you and wants you to know that He is near. Look to Him and ask for His guidance. And when He answers, take a moment to worship Him.

"Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and wondrous things you do not know." --Jeremiah 33:3, HCSB

Monday, March 10, 2008

Odd Man Out

Have you ever been the "odd man out"?
This weekend my daughter and I were involved in a setting where we were the among the 30 some-odd new people in a setting where most of the 200 people gathered knew each other. It was uncomfortable at times... Mind you, we didn't feel slighted, just somewhat detached.
As we drove home last night I asked her about it, and I must admit that I was surprised at her response. She didn't have much to say about the people who overlooked her or about feeling left out. Rather, her response was quickly centered on the 3 specific people who, over the course of the project, reached out to her and included her whenever they were around. As she spoke, I realized how much those three teenage girls meant to my child... how they validated her as a part of the "community"... how they made her transition into the group a little less awkward.
As a father, I was touched that there were kids who went out of their way to be nice to my child. Then, in much the same way that I was trying to help my daughter "connect the dots" about what they had done for her, God showed me something new: I started thinking about all the new people coming to BVBC... I thought about what it must feel like for the new people who visit our church to come in amongst hundreds who already know each other and have well-established relationships.... how hard it could be to find your niche. To be honest, my family seemed to miss that hurdle in coming to BVBC, but joining a new church as staff is not the same as coming as a member.
Here's the bottom line: This whole experience made me mindful once again of what it feels like to be a newcomer in in a large established group. It reminded me how we have the opportunity to include others into the body every time we gather. It reminded me how special a single person can be when they help someone else bridge the gap. I can name for you the three children who made my daughter feel special over the last 8 - 10 weeks. I want to be that kind of person for someone else. How about you?

Friday, March 7, 2008

A preview...

For any who aren't aware, #1 child and I are involved in CYT Kansas City's (South Chapter) production of Annie. I'm working backstage flying backdrops and setting scenes, but she's out front and center...

Bert Healy: Ah, ladies and gentlemen, the lovely Boylan Sisters:

And here's one of me any me new friend, Oliver Warbucks... He's a nice enough guy, but had to borrow cash from me for lunch... Something about a depression and assets not being liquid...

Cast Photos and program to come later.

Monday, March 3, 2008


As I was reading this morning I caught a glimpse of a study note that spoke to my heart. In John chapter 1, the writer refers to Jesus as the WORD. I've heard this many times through the years, but today I saw something new... The study guide said this:
The WORD (Gk LOGOS) is a title for Jesus as the communication from and revealer of God the Father." (Holman Christian Standard Bible; Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN)
Years ago a friend pointed out a verse that has become a personal favorite for me. Hebrews 1:3 says, "He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature..." From that verse I've come to learn that if I wanted to see what God was like, I need to look at what I know of Jesus. This new verse reminds me of that truth and encourages me to look even more deeply into what God is saying to me through the life of Christ.
On another note, I'm very excited about this coming Sunday's worship service because we'll be joined by my good friend, Cliff Hackler. Cliff was a minister of music for 17 years before launching out into concert ministry 8 years ago. He's as different from me as any person could possibly be, so our friendship is pretty interesting. Nonetheless, I'm excited about sharing him with my new church family and am looking forward how God will use him here to bless their hearts. For information on Cliff's ministry you can visit (Note: Cliff is currently in the process of a web redesign to create a more engaging site with great functionality and content. Watch for his upcoming video blogs and his music launch to iTunes later in the month.)