Wins & Losses (November 1-14)

Wins

  • We dedicated our youngest, G, to the Lord on November 1st. It was a sweet moment and he looked some kinda cute in his sweater vest that morning. He was dedicated alongside 7 other kids that day and we were so proud to have many family members around for the moment.
  • I enjoyed Election Night 2020 from the comfort of my living room couch. Watching the returns every two years is an invigorating thing for me and most likely the only time I feel comfortable with numbers. While watching ABC News (my news outlet of choice), Becca commented on the guy running the map/giving out possible scenarios and said, “Who would ever want that job?” I quickly responded that if I ever wanted a job on Election Night, that would be the one. I kept up with races that I considered important (mostly Senate races, TBH), and then of course went to bed around 12:30 when no presidential candidate had reached 270. We’ve learned a lot since then, and I look forward to doing it all again in two years at the 2022 midterm elections.
  • I finally finished Tough Choices by Carly Fiorina (17th book this year!). This was the first book she wrote and it came about a year after she was fired by HP. I had begun it in the summer, but had to take a break to focus on my reading for grad school. The majority of the book was quite good though I tended to get lost in the business jargon every once in a while. I’m a sucker for autobiographies and I greatly admire Carly Fiorina. So I was happy to finish this book and look forward to reading her most recent book, Find Your Way, next year.

Losses

  • My heart breaks for the nation over and over again. I am so proud to live in a country where the right to vote is protected by law. I enjoy the freedoms that are afforded to me…freedoms for which others have died that I could enjoy. I just wish folks could understand that a vote for a person is a vote for a person and whatever happens is a result of the democratic process. There seems to be no patience anymore and we forget that people are imperfect. I long for kindness and cordiality. Perhaps my standards are just too high.
  • Warm weather permeated through middle Georgia for the beginnings of November. I wore t-shirts and short-sleeved polos and shorts for most of the month. It was only after we passed the midpoint did it begin to feel like fall again. I knew when I moved further south that I would experience warmer temperatures. But…it’s…NOVEMBER!!!!

My 2020 Election Day Predictions

In 2008, I was hopeful that John McCain would take the presidency, but had a sure feeling that President Obama would win. And he did…soundly. In 2012, the first year of my voting eligibility in a presidential year, I became very involved in the Republican Party in my college’s town and hoped and predicted that Mitt Romney would squeak out a win with some help from New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio. He lost each of those states and the election. In 2016, I had two predictions: either Hillary Clinton would demolish Trump in a historic landslide, or Trump would squeak it out in the end. Though HRC won the popular vote by 3 million, Trump shocked the nation with his Electoral College win, particularly in the Rust Belt. Pennsylvania was his saving grace.

So, here we are again. I love Election Day. My day is usually spent reading the headlines and preparing for the results to come in. I love to stay up late and watch the returns. It gives me some sick thrill and my adrenaline is on a high. Lots of great memories flood back to my days with College Republicans and the Madison County GOP at our election night watch parties. I’ll do the same tonight. Start the (full) pot of coffee around 7:30pm after many east coast results come in. And then sit on the couch with Twitter close by to see what happens. Utilizing historical patterns & polling data from RealClearPolitics.com, I used the interactive map on 270 To Win to make my predictions. I have two: president and Senate.

Logan’s 2020 Presidential Election Prediction

Notice that I’m predicting neither candidate gets to 270. I’m predicting that President Trump will hang on to the battleground states of Ohio, Iowa, Florida (his new home state), Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina. I think Vice President Biden will flip Arizona (!!!), Wisconsin, and Michigan. I also think Maine will split its electoral votes once again due to their state laws allowing it. If this happens, both candidates land at 269. I’m fully convinced that no one on either side likes this scenario. In this case, the election goes to the House of Representatives & the Senate. In the House, each state casts one vote for president based on a majority poll of that state’s delegation. The same method happens for vice president in the Senate. Despite the Democratic majority in the House, the incumbent currently has the advantage based on state representation. So, provided the SCOTUS doesn’t get involved, I’m predicting that President Trump & Vice President Pence will squeak by and land another term.

Logan’s 2020 Senate Projection

The Senate projection is quite a bit more complex. Considering battleground states electing senators, here are my thoughts.

State with GOP hold:

Thom Tillis (R) of North Carolina will barely hang on to his first-term seat. His opponent has proved quite competitive, despite a sexting scandal. I’m also predicting that Maine will flip to Sara Gideon (D), after being in Republican hands, albeit moderate, since 1997. I believe Arizona will not only flip to Democrats presidentially, but will also be won by Mark Kelly (D), who is the husband of former representative, Gabby Giffords. Many of you remember the special Senate race in Alabama 4 years ago when Doug Jones (D) won. This was a major victory for Democrats largely due to the Republican nominee’s miserable sexual misconduct allegations. He has served for 4 years, but I strongly believe Alabama will flip back to the Republicans with former Auburn coach, Tommy Tuberville. Considered the most vulnerable Republican in 2020, Cory Gardner (R) of Colorado will probably see his Senate term come to an end tonight with a victory by that state’s most recent and very popular governor, John Hickenlooper (D). Though Steve Bullock (D) is also an incredibly popular governor in Montana, I don’t see him flipping that state’s Senate seat. Therefore, the Republicans will retain the seat currently held by Steve Daines (R). That brings us back down south to my state of Georgia. Not to appear biased, but I think control of the Senate will end up in the hands of Georgia and we won’t know its outcome this year. Georgians have the rare distinction of electing both senators in the same year thanks to Johnny Isakson’s retirement in 2019. Senator David Perdue (R) is running for reelection to a second a term and Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) is running in a special election to serve out the remainder of Sen. Isakson’s term. I think Sen. Perdue will hang on to his seat and by a mostly comfortable margin. The special election (the one that will determine control) will most certainly go to a runoff, and I predict that Sen. Loeffler will lose to Rep. Doug Collins (R) who will then face Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), a pastor from Atlanta. Collins is extremely popular among Republicans here in the Peach State, and I think he’ll win the runoff in January 2021 (an awfully late time for a runoff, in my opinion). I’m not sure how close that election will be, but I do see Republicans keeping this seat. This would keep the Senate in GOP control, but only by one vote.

I’d love to hear your predictions as well, so leave them in the comments!

A Whirlwind

To say the last month has been a whirlwind is the understatement of the year. An unexpected amount of events, both good and bad, rose up in October. It’s been exhausting.

As many of you know, my dear friend and piano teacher, John Simmons, passed away on October 24 after a three-year battle with cancer. It was much harder on me that I originally thought. This has been the first time I’ve seriously encountered death in 19 years (with the exception of the death of my friend Olivia in 2014 which was a traumatic experience all on its own). It was extremely difficult see him when I talked to him two weeks ago for the last time. Despite his mind being just fine, his physical abilities were not what I remembered. Yet, he still managed to tell me he loved me which was enough. Last week at his homegoing, his music minister and my college buddy, Jeremy, very kindly asked me to help lead the congregational singing. I was beyond humbled to be asked. The service was absolutely beautiful and God-honoring throughout. It blessed me to reconnect with so many friends, especially my fellow SMA alums, Miranda Armstrong and Mary Margaret Reynolds. As brokenhearted as I am to not have John in my life anymore, I am overwhelmingly rejoicing that he is in the presence of his Savior King for eternity.

The end of October also meant the end of my first trimester of grad school at William Carey University. It was not an easy trimester, though I only took two classes. Hymnology was a great experience largely because I had yet to take a legitimate hymnology course. I learned so much about church music and church history, and came away with the fresh thought that church music has gone through major shifts and not just in the last 40 years. The best part was presentations. The research/writing course was challenging because the whole course was designed to teach me how to write at the graduate level. I owe a big thanks to Union for preparing me for that in undergraduate studies. I greatly enjoyed writing my research paper and making the argument that the creation & inclusion of the American gospel song was the turning point for churches to explore creativity in music-making in the 20th and 21st centuries. I was able to take both of these classes with my Union friends, Adam and Robert. Each of these guys provided a great source of encouragement and moral support throughout the season. The trimester was finished with a 4.0! I’ll take a break for the winter trimester and begin again in March.

R has finally crested the mountain with potty training! It’s been a battle and a struggle for 10 months. But once we prayed to God for divine intervention, it was astonishing to see how quickly things changed. Becca has even joked that we’re going to rename the dog “Ishmael” because that name means “I cried out to the Lord.” We’re so proud of her!

I hope to be able to revive Wins & Losses as well as the Worship Song Review this month since things have slowed down a bit. Thanks to each of you who are faithful to read each post!

Wins & Losses (September 27-October 3)

Wins

  • Two weeks of football under our belt and my team is starting out a heck of a lot better than last year! Watching Tennessee football has been a small shot of normal for our family and we’re glad to have our fall Saturdays centered around housework, College Gameday, and college football. In addition to Tennessee doing well, the college football world in itself has been wild, completely complementing with 2020. I love watching it and look forward to more football Saturdays!
  • I’ve started listening to Reba McEntire’s new Spotify podcast, Living and Learning. She co-hosts it each week with Melissa Peterman (Barbara Jean in Reba) and I’ve loved the content thus far. Guests have included Leslie Jordan, Lauren Alaina, and the fabulous, one and only Dolly Parton! The episodes are roughly 35 minutes in length, so it would be a great podcast to listen to on the way to and on the way from work in each day.
  • The fall temperatures have triggered soup season and the Brashers came in strong! We’ve already had two soups thus far and several more are on the menu for October. This seems like an odd win, I know. But I’ve always been a soup guy and this season every year gets me excited to eat it again!

Losses

  • The first presidential debate was an absolute catastrophe. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. I had no idea it would be that ugly. I hollered at the TV like I was watching a football game, trying to give pointers to each candidate. Becca and I were so disappointed in the event and blame both candidates for it. Chris Wallace? God bless him. He did what he could with what he was given and if he doesn’t get an Emmy for it, he’ll have gotten the shaft. I hope the next two are better, but I have my doubts.
  • As much as I m enjoying the cooler weather in the mornings and evenings, the warm/hot weather in the middle of the day is making my allergies go insane. My sinuses and eyes are apparently no match for the 30-degree differences in temperature during the day. the Benadryl game has been strong the last few evenings.

Wins & Losses (September 13-September 19)

Wins

  • With Becca and the kids gone to Alabama for the weekend, I was given an entire weekend devoted to schoolwork. I’ve got a large research paper with benchmarks that must be completed as well as other assignments that needed my attention. The opportunity to just sit at the table and work all day without a single distraction was helpful. I missed them; don’t get me wrong. But it was a load off my shoulders to get ahead and try to keep my nose above the water.
  • Saturday night, I went down to Macon to worship at The Healing Experience Ministries and Pastor Chris Carter. Our paths crosses last year when our church donated a van to them and we began a small partnership. Attending a worship service outside my denomination and environment is part of my grad school requirements and I loved the opportunity to do it. The church was hospitable and Pastor Chris was so kind. I’m looking forward to ministering with them in our area!
  • We’ve been enjoying fall weather around here thanks to the cool temps brought on by Hurricane Sally. By the time it reached us, it was just heavy rain. But the weather after it was marvelous. Georgia tends to have a “fake fall” in that there usually is a week of fall temperatures to give us hope before we’re back in the 90s for another month. Though we won’t touch 90 degrees, we will still see summer temps for a week or so before we’re actually in the fall season. That’s just how it goes, I guess. I’ll take the cool temperatures whenever I can get them!
  • There were only 8 of us, but I was glad to have my choir back on Wednesday nights! I knew I had to start somewhere with something and someone. I had at least one person per section and I’m looking forward to having them on Sunday mornings from here on out!

Losses

  • The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came as a big bombshell on Saturday night. I was sad for two reasons. Firstly, it’s never a happy moment when someone passes away. I know her family may have expected this, but I imagine they are mourning nonetheless. Secondly, I knew immediately that the current state of political affairs would fire up more than it already is. I didn’t want to say what candidate or party would benefit from her death because I don’t think that’s appropriate. But I just sighed knowing that if we think it’s ugly now, we really have no idea.

Wins & Losses (Augustish-Septemberish)

It’s been so stinking long since I did a Wins & Losses that dates are irrelevant. But that’s been 2020 anyway, so I don’t feel as bad. Nonetheless, here’s a look at the weeks that were…

Wins

  • School has started for the three oldest Brashers in the house. Becca resumed teaching in-person, R started a new school due to the one she was attending electing to not open this fall, and I began my new master’s program online. It was a big adjustment from the last 6 months, but we’ve all done our best to find the groove. As is the case with everything and everyone in 2020, we just prepare to pivot everyday because we never know what’s coming next. But we’re surviving, which is all anyone can ask for this year!
  • Labor Day was spent with a paint brush in hand. Becca was bitten by the chalkpaint bug a couple of weeks ago which led to 3 pieces of furniture in our living room getting makeovers. We started the process before Labor Day, and then my parents came down for a visit and helped us finish it off. The room looks so much better and we have one more small table that needs the makeover. It’s work, but it’s pretty when it’s done. Also on Labor Day, Becca and I took advantage of my parents being in town and took the night off in Macon. We got ice cream at Macon Swirls (highly recommend) and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express across the street. Great hotel for anyone ever traveling in Macon! It was a great night away and we’re thankful to my kids for letting my parents sleep over at their house ūüėÄ
  • We’re flying through The Office. I did not realize how fast this would move for us and that’s probably because the last few shows we’ve watched through have had 45-50 minute episodes while The Office has 22-minute episodes. I’ve never been a fan of this show, but it does have its moments. I doubt I’ll be one of those that watches it over and over again. However, it’s not as bad as I used to think it was.

Losses

  • Figuring how to effectively manage time these days has been a struggle. Being a husband, dad, pastor, and student all at the same time is a daily challenge. I have deadlines with assignments, but I really need to help clean up the kitchen. Becca and I have hardly had any time today, but my kids need a bath and pajamas. I’m nearly halfway through the fall trimester at William Carey, so maybe I can decipher a better schedule in the second half.
  • Patience is in short supply these days. I’ve come to realize over the last few weeks that it doesn’t take much to set me off with anyone. Just enough loud noise or chaos can make me lose my temper so fast that I didn’t even see it coming. And then, of course, the guilt that follows is just as bad.
  • I’m a little irritated with Amazon Prime. We subscribe to Prime service which is supposed to include Prime Video, Amazon Music, and the flagship free, 2-day shipping. I understand that coronavirus has thrown everyone off, including Amazon. But the fact that we are paying the same amount per month and 4 times out of 5 we cannot get free 2-day shipping, I expect a change. Specifically, I expect my monthly charge to be deducted a certain amount to reflect the longer delivery times. I still enjoy Prime Video and Amazon Music, but something’s gotta give. I have no problem with longer delivery times so long as I understand it’s on its way and I got what I paid for.

“No use for pretensions”

                                             

Last Saturday, my great aunt Marie “Ree” passed away at the age of 89. She was the last living sibling of my papa, Raymond Droke. I think because she outlived all of her siblings, I had just unconciously settled into the belief that she would live forever. We didn’t have this special relationship that could be envied and I haven’t seen her in probably 3 years. But the memories I have of her are all good.

Her granddaughter and my cousin, Laura, is quite the eloquent blogger. She penned a beautiful tribute to her mamaw, describing her personality and reminiscing about her childhood days spent on her mamaw’s farm. As she described Aunt Ree, one particular phrase jumped out at me. Reflecting on how she treated people, Laura said that Aunt Ree “had no use for pretensions. She was not over-awed by appearance. She loved the real. If your life was a wreck and you showed up on her doorstep, she would give you the same warmth, love and honesty she would give to dignitary.”

No use for pretensions. Now that’s a legacy worth leaving.

Though Laura spent many more days at Aunt Ree’s house than I did, I fondly remember the few times I got to gather with the extended family for a delectable meal and wonderful conversation. Aunt Ree was so easy to talk to because she sincerely had “no use for pretensions.” She understood that everybody has a past, present, and future. She affirmed the worth and dignity of a person simply because they were a creation formed in the image of God. Aunt Ree, though blunt, would treat you like you belonged to her. I loved it and seek to emulate it forever.

When the day comes that I leave this earthly home, may my children and grandchildren say of me, “Logan had no use for pretensions.”

Wins & Losses (August 9-15)

Wins

  • Some Sundays are just out-of-the-park home runs. Such was the case last Sunday. The songs all worked together to form a cohesive worship set. It told the story of the cross from start to finish. I was so happy with how everything worked out.
  • After waiting much too long, Bec and I were able to finally get away for the evening for a date night in Macon. Gift cards were our friend at Outback and Old Navy! After walking off our supper, we tried a new-to-us ice cream shop in North Macon called Macon Swirls. OH MY LANTA. They had yellow cake batter ice cream that was delectable (and I made it even sweeter with chocolate chip cookie dough bites). We’re grateful to LP for watching our kids that night so we could enjoy ourselves. Date nights are never a bad idea.
  • R started school (officially) last Thursday. Despite a couple of bumps, she seemed to have a swell time. Her teacher is incredibly sweet and her class is small, giving her the ability to make good friends with the group. She loves carrying her lunch every day and can’t wait to tell me about her day when she gets home. I hope the year is good for her.
  • After 5 months, we finally wrapped up¬†The West Wing. It was an absolutely incredible show. With the cast, the writing, and the music, it’s no wonder why it won 26 Emmy awards and is considered one of the best television shows of all time. It’s definitely one show that I can see myself watching again next year or maybe 2022. If you haven’t watched it before, I highly recommend it. You can buy a DVD box set (like I did) or stream it on Netflix. Bec is now having me watch¬†The Office¬†and she assures me that if I can just stomach season 1, I’ll actually enjoy it. I’m skeptical, but we’ll see how it goes.

Losses

  • Getting into a new routine has been a feat. We’ve all been used to sleeping in at least a little bit every day. Trying to adjust to our new schedule with Bec’s work/R’s school and K & G going to the babysitter hasn’t been the easiest transition. We’re all still learning how to make it work and it doesn’t come without hiccups.
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: POTTY TRAINING A CHILD IS THE WORST EVER.

Wins & Losses (August 2-9)

Wins

  • Becca has been bitten by the chalk-paint bug. For a while now, we’ve been talking about matching furniture, having attained all our furniture from here and there over the last 5 years. In short, our living spaces have been 50 shades of brown for far too long and it was time for some uniformity. So she bought some chalk paint and we got to work painting two end tables by the end of the week. I have a love-hate relationship with painting. I don’t like doing it, but I’m good at it. Mom and Dad have volunteered to help us with the accent/antique look when they come visit over Labor Day, so I’m looking forward to seeing how these all turn out! The tables look wonderful already and we have at least 2 more pieces we’re going to tackle. She’s talked about doing the same to our bedroom furniture…y’all pray.
  • Last week marked two big milestones. On Tuesday, G turned 6 months old! He’s sitting up more and more every day and loves to babble all the time. On Wednesday, we celebrated 2 years of ministry in Gray, Georgia! It seems not that long and years longer when we think about it. We’re so grateful God moved us here and look forward to more years of fruitful ministry at FBC-G!
  • Every once in a while, I go through a Facebook friend purge. I’ll delete 5-8 people for whatever reason. But last week, I found new life in that game. I was deleting friends every day. I mean, removing roughly 5 or more people PER DAY. The same applied to pages I’d liked in the past and had no reason to follow anymore. It felt so freeing. I know it sounds awful, but having over 1,200 friends on Facebook is just unreasonable for me. I’m down to 1,068 as of this posting and my goal is to get it under 1,000 by the end of the week. Here we go.

Losses

  • Parenting a 3-year old is a task that, I believe, no one can adequately prepare. I’m convinced this is a preview of teenage years because it’s rough. The independence and AUDACITY of R these days is unbelievable. Discouragement with Becca and I is putting it lightly. Y’all seriously pray for us on this one. It’s tough.
  • I suppose it was inevitable in the world we’re in at the moment, but postponing my class reunion was not an easy thing to do. I kept hoping something would give us the green light to press on, but alas. Our 10-year reunion will be more like our 10.5 year reunion once it finally happens. I suppose this just gives us plenty of time to make sure everything is right.

Worship Song Review: August/Hymns Edition

As we transition into a new church year (for most of us), we are all transitioning in a way that “we’ve never done before.” To that end, I decided to change up this month’s song review and go the hymns route. Now, I’ve met folks far and wide that would crucify for ever critiquing a hymn. However, I examine all sacred congregational songs with the same fine-tooth comb: theological depth and congregational adaptability. And let me throw out a disclaimer that I will be using my two favorite hymns of all time. So, here is the Worship Song Review: Hymns Edition.

And Can it Be? by Charles Wesley

I have a love-hate relationship with this song. Charles Wesley is arguably the greatest hymnwriter that ever graced the earth. An examination of the stanzas would leave your jaw dropped. How can a simple human pen such poetic texts¬†that beautifully? Anyway, the text is theologically rich and no one can argue against it. Musically, I’m half and half. I love how the song ends with soaring notes on “Thou, my God.” When it comes to congregational adaptability, I wonder why Charles was so adamant about jumps of a sixth and arpeggios one after the other. I remember the first time I sang this in university chapel. I never could get that refrain just right. After 2-4 times of singing it, perhaps one could sing it with confidence. Maybe I’m just a fuddy-duddy on this one.

A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Martin Luther (skip to 12:25)

This hymn probably competes with¬†Amazing Grace as the most well-known hymn in all of Christianity. Martin Luther is known for igniting the Protestant Reformation and within that movement came hymns for the people to sing. Up until then, lay Christians were excluded by the clergy from singing in the church. Martin Luther’s hymns carried on after his death and this one is his most famous. It’s been arranged and performed thousands of times and never gets old. I like to think of this song as a “battle hymn” that’s good to sing in all occasions. An academic, Luther knew how to write good hymn texts. Its marriage with the tune EIN FESTE BERG provides believers with a tune to be sung not only in the congregation, but throughout life’s mountains and valleys. In fact, it was sung by martyrs on their way to execution and an army battalion before a major battle in Germany (source). Never will I ever get tired of this bombastic hymn.

Sunshine in My Soul by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt

Though this song appears in hymnals far and wide, it actually is not a hymn. E.E. Hewitt (1851-1920) felt the call to serve her church by writing songs for the primary (elementary kids) department. She wrote hundreds of songs for these kids and eventually became the Superintendent of the primary department at Calvin Presbyterian Church. Several hymnals include these children’s Sunday School songs in them and we mistakenly think of them as hymns because of their association with other hymns. That being the case, I don’t ever program this one in church services. If you study the text, you’ll see that it’s a very happy-go-lucky, everything’s rosy, what-could-possibly-go-wrong song that is not conducive to the whole Christian life. I believe it gives a false sense of reality to the life of a Christian when Jesus explicitly told us that “in this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Also, I have never seen “Jesus’ smiling face.”

The Church’s One Foundation¬†by Samuel John Stone & Samuel Wesley

Not only does this hymn have a beautiful text, the melody with which it is paired is absolutely stunning. It is completely singable by a large group and proclaims that no matter what the world may hurl, God’s church will forever stand on the foundation of Jesus Christ. If you’ve never given this hymn a look, you really should.