I always love it when our student praise band leads worship in the sanctuary. We honored our graduates on Sunday night and I got to worship from the AV booth that evening. It was so enjoyable and I loved watching the next generation of church leaders get a chance to lead not only their peers, but their parents, mentors, and leaders in worship. I’m so proud of each of them and can’t wait to see how they grow this year.
A Facebook status from one of my classmates got me all reminiscent the other day. Last week marked 9 years since I graduated high school and several of my fellow 2010 Cardinals told where they were and what they were doing. I loved getting to see where everyone was and seeing all those small kids. Several of us mentioned the 10-year reunion set to happen next year and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone sometime next year.
Becca and I got the sweet privilege of teaming up as a music duo for a wedding last Saturday. Some dear friends of ours had a son get married and kindly asked us to sing and play at the wedding about 45 minutes away. Though it was a touch warm outside, we had a great time together and even managed to squeeze in a much-needed date night at Outback thanks to a gift card and babysitters (a.k.a. my brother and grandmother).
As the temperature continues to warm and summertime nears, the temptation to slack off has hit me. I find this odd because I’m such an achiever and desire to do things well. But even the stuff that I enjoy doing are the things I’m tempted to just brush off because I’d rather be outside enjoying the weather. As much as I love summer (and I LOVE SUMMERTIME), this is one of the few things about this season I could do without.
She waited long enough and we were so proud to dedicate Kennedy to the Lord on Mother’s Day alone with 5 other babies in our church. Kennedy was the oldest of the dedicatory babies (10 months), and it was so nice to go through this with our new church family. We know she will be loved, cherished, and taught well here in Gray. It was swell to have several members of our Tennessee family here to celebrate with us. We love Baby K so much and we can’t wait to see her grow in the Lord.
My sweet and sassy grandmother turned 80 years old last Thursday. The first time I remember her telling me how old she was was 58. To know that I’ve gotten to actively enjoy the last 22 years with her is a humbling thought. I wish I could have been there to celebrate with her, but we FaceTimed her as a substitute. I’ve always had a special relationship with my Grandmair and I look forward to what this next decade holds for her.
It’s always nice to get new books (nevermind the fact that I’ve got over 20 books that I’ve had for at least a year that haven’t been read yet). Last week, I received my copies of The Apostles’ Creed by Albert Mohler and The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Shapes Reshapes the Home by Russell Moore. I’ve seen these books advertised everywhere and I was glad to finally get my copies of them. Maybe when I’m in Louisville in August, I can get Dr. Mohler to sign mine! Southern Seminary student privileges, am I right?
We all have items on our bucket lists. One of mine got checked off the other day as I was listening to my daily dose of podcasts and got a shoutout from Mike Harland on the WorshipLife podcast! For those that care, the episode is called “How Streaming Impacts Your Ministry with Craig Adams” and my shoutout is at the 31:50 mark.
I’ve never been what you might call “athletic.” My sports league participation stopped after the 4th grade and if I ever played sports, it was during church activities, Music Major Soccer (shout out to UU Music alums!) or with family at home. I always played for fun knowing I was more of a liability than an asset to a team. So playing softball with the church league this season was for fun and stress relief. Whenever I play a game and I don’t enjoy playing it, something is definitely wrong. I don’t like when people play dirty, especially when it’s something as pithy as church softball. That’s just not my cup of tea. I’m not saying this as a sore loser because, as most of you know, losing has never bothered me all that much (except at Catch Phrase…but that’s a another story…nevermind…anyway). Playing dirty ain’t cool and nobody likes it. Just don’t do it.
The absolute mockery of civil discourse among our public servants lately has made me want to run for office more than ever before. I know I couldn’t do it and serve in ministry at the same time. I get it. But dad gum it, I’m just so tired of everybody calling names, smearing one another, and acting like children (I really fault our president for a lot of it, TBH). I hate to see public servants use legislation and position as a platform to smear someone else. That helps no one. Maybe one day I’ll stop talking about running for office and actually do it.
I love the sound of kids singing. Specifically, I love the sound of kids singing with gusto. For several months, I had been working with about 6-8 kids at church on a song that I wanted them to sing during the morning worship services. The song was “Lift High the Name of Jesus” and they loved it so much. They finally got it all together and helped me lead the congregation last Sunday morning. They clearly had a good time and did a wonderful job singing it. We’ll be taking a break for the summer months, but I’m looking forward to getting them singing again in the fall!
Last week, I went through the chapel archives on Union University’s website. I got to reminiscing about significant chapel services during my college years and decided to revisit them. I downloaded the most memorable ones and have so enjoyed listening to them and remembering what it was like to listen to them for the very first time. It’s amazing to hear how they impact me just as much if not more than they did 4-8 years ago.
We enjoyed having family in town on Saturday for Kennedy’s baby dedication (more about that next week!).
As Becca and the girls finished up their trip to West Tennessee, I found myself at home alone for two days last week. Those days were filled with seminary papers and me just wishing they’d hurry up and get home. Despite the constant state of mess that my house is in due to a toddler and an infant, I like having my people at home.
I’m almost 100% convinced that I should’ve been diagnosed with ADD when I was younger. I found it so difficult to concentrate last week on reading, assignments, and other tasks that needed to be accomplished. A less-than-desired grade on a paper was the result of unsuccessful attempts at concentration. Any pointers on remaining concentrated would be welcome!
What had been about two months in the making finally got off the ground last Thursday when Becca and I launched a new small group from our church. Looking to provide something for people in the strange time that is post-high school and pre-marriage-and-family was our target. There was plenty of interest and we already had a host home. We had a great start with some wonderful discussion. We love doing ministry stuff together, and this is just another way for us to do it. Lots of great things ahead, for sure!
Tennessee was calling the whole family last weekend. While Becca and the girls went far-west to Rossville for Matt’s college graduation from the University of Memphis, I veered north and went to Murfreesboro for Quinten’s graduation from MTSU. We hated that they fell on the same day, but we tried to make the best of it. Some of you know that Quinten hasn’t had the easiest college journey. He never planned to be at MTSU, but he graduated from there with a degree that he clearly seems to enjoy as evidenced by his writings for the Lebanon Democrat and the Lone Conservative. The diploma was a long time coming, and we are so proud of him for succeeding. Onward!
There is an AWFUL stomach virus that has been making its rounds in our community over the last month. I cannot count how many people we know that have been affected by and it finally invaded our house. Becca woke up Sunday morning with it and it had her in the bed or the bathroom all day long. On the bright side, it only lasted a day. But it just may have been the longest one day ever.
The seminary load has been heavy over the last two weeks. I haven’t been as meticulous with my reading schedule as I would like either. This means no softball for two weeks. I’ve really missed being out on the field, especially since our team has won three games in a row. I’m looking forward to getting back out there to destress by hitting things and throwing stuff.
Worship leaders, have you ever had what one of my trombonists called a “musical bad hair day?” We had one the Sunday after Easter. I think it’s typical to be a little “less” the Sunday after Easter, but I was trying really hard to avoid that. Apparently, I did not try hard enough. From instrumentation issues to a poor song arrangement choice on my part, it was just a rough Sunday. I was really glad to put that particular Sunday behind me and move ahead to the following week.
Easter down in our neck of the woods was quite wonderful. This was the biggest congregation for which I’ve ever led an Easter service, and to my surprise, I was relaxed the whole time. I’ve been known to be high-strung when it’s go-time, but clearly the Lord was working overtime on me that day. I had the choir singing in both services and it was great. Over 700 people passed through our doors, including about 160 kids. To know that we had a chance to plant a gospel seed in that many people was humbling. It also amazes me that Christians still celebrate the resurrection of Christ as if it just happened. That’s really cool.
Our beautiful second daughter celebrated 10 months with us last week. She’s really become quite active in the last few weeks, laughing at just about everything and pushing chairs around the house to practice her walking. Now if she would just pop some teeth…
Thanks to some serendipity, we noticed that our friend Sabrina Warren (professor of music a Union) was going to be performing a recital at Wesleyan College in Macon. We got a babysitter and, after nearly getting lost on the campus, found the chapel and enjoyed a beautiful evening of music. It was nice to chat with Sabrina after the performance and hear about new things happening in the department of music at Union. Also, any time I get to dress up with Becca and spend some time together just the two of us is wonderful.
A few cold mornings in Gray made us reconsider whether keeping the AC on was a good idea. I’m a warm-weather kind of person, so I much prefer warm temps all day long. In the end, we bundled up in the mornings and just shed layers as the day went on. However, it appears that as we move into May, the cold temps will stay behind.
Several weeks back, I gave my church choir the hardest piece they’ve done since I’ve been here, perhaps even the hardest piece they’ve ever done. It was a large mash-up of four Sandi Patty songs, all of which were extremely fast. As any Christian musician knows, Sandi Patty doesn’t do easy songs. When I discovered it, I knew it was the perfect anthem for Palm Sunday and purchased it immediately while at the same time wondering if I’d just bitten off more than I could chew. Week after week with intense rehearsals went by. A cut was made there and parts were scrapped there for the sake of time and ease. After one extra rehearsal the week before its performance, I had confidence that the choir could pull it off. And man, did they pull it off well! They sounded excellent and performed it with ease (or so it appeared). I was incredibly happy with the performance and could tell that they were happy to shelve it for a while!
The staff at FBC have recently begun a new book discussion published by Crossway and The Gospel Coalition. The New City Catechism was something I saw TGC pushing for a long time earlier last year. I knew what it was, but didn’t give it the time of day. Now that we’ve dived into it, I’m so excited to “catechize myself” with it. I also enjoy any chance to use the word “catechetical” in a sentence. For those unfamiliar with what catechisms are, look them up. Perhaps you might even want to use them in your own homes or churches.
Becca and I are simply thrilled to begin teaching and leading a new small group next week. Seeing the need for a small group in the 18-25/30 age group, we decided to spearhead this effort. We’ve already got a host home and a study ready to go. We really love serving our church and love the chance to serve together. Already, we’ve seen enthusiasm from people in this age group, and that just thrills us even more. Please pray for us as we begin this small group next week and pray that the people we will be leading will crave God’s Word.
An absolutely HORRID bout of a stomach bug is going around our church and community. It got so bad that two of my instrumentalists had to bail on Saturday night before Easter. So far, our house hasn’t been infected by it. But friend after friend and kid after kid is getting it, putting the Brasher parentals on high alert. While you’re praying for the small group we’re about to start, pray for a sanitized hedge of protection around our little corner of the world.
Most of the time, extra rehearsals are scheduled because extra work is needed on music. We had quite a doozy for Palm Sunday plus our two Easter anthems, so I scheduled a Tuesday night rehearsal with instrumentalists to get some extra practice in. Though we worked for a solid hour and a half, it certainly proved to be time worth spent. Lots of problems were corrected and our songs sounded great. I left the rehearsal encouraged and sweaty (because I’d forgotten to request AC for the evening). I also think the choir was encouraged to see that they had it in them to sing hard stuff. They’re better than they think they are 😉
Beautiful weather called for lots of outside time last week. I took a walk with the girls one night and we all spent Friday evening at the ball park. I played a game of softball while my wife and daughters spent some time at the playground with Reagan’s friend Amelia. I’ve really enjoyed playing softball despite by lack of athletic ability. It’s a great way to relieve stress and get some physical activity (however minimal) into my lifestyle.
Speaking of being outside, Rea got to participate in her first Easter egg hunt on Saturday. Our town hosts a community egg hunt each year and Rea had a good time. She didn’t get many eggs (she was competing with a few 4-year olds), but she clearly had fun. She also felt obligated to take pictures with the characters that were there including the Easter Bunny, Zac from Zaxby’s, and the Chick-fil-A cow. As soon as it was over, we took the girls to get their picture made for Easter by a lady in my music ministry who has a photography side business. They acted SO WELL and I was very proud of them. We all rested that afternoon before I got hard at work on some seminary assignments for my new class.
I was glad to get Reba’s newest album, Stronger Than the Truth, last week. I’d heard such good things about it, particularly that it was the most country album she’d done in years. It did not disappoint! I’ve listened through it at least twice and I plan to listen even more! Get it while it’s hot!
Apparently, it is the will of God that wherever we live, we MUST endure air conditioning problems within the first year. We dealt with it when we live in our Memphis apartment, Memphis house, and now our Gray apartment. We went about 5-6 days with no air conditioner or at least, that’s what we think. We were grateful, however, to have a landlord who is much more expedient that our landlord at our Memphis apartment and we are now enjoying a brand new unit that is keeping the house nice and cool.
I did something a little out of the ordinary at the beginning of the week when I decided to go play softball with my church league. Despite my consistent lack of athletic skill, I’ve always enjoyed playing softball for fun. Hitting things and throwing stuff seemed like a great de-stresser and mind-clearer. I really enjoyed my time with the men and boys from church, despite our resounding loss to a sister church. I’ll certainly be looking forward to playing other games with these fellas as the season goes on.
The weekend here in Gray just may have been my fullest work weekend since I moved here. On Friday afternoon, I welcomed the Boyce College Choir to our church for a 7:00 concert. The students and directors were so very kind and I loved having them around (the extra help with resetting the platform wasn’t bad either!). The next day, I spent the afternoon and evening with my music ministry volunteers. We sang and I outlined our 2019 goals in the afternoon before Mike Harland joined us. Mike is the director of LifeWay Worship and the host of the WorshipLife podcast. I’ve been following him on his podcast and blog for well over a year now and I was thrilled that he could join us for the weekend. He gave us some marvelous insight on corporate worship and answered great questions at our church music forum. I personally enjoyed getting to spend some one-on-one time with him in between my two events. I cherish any moment I get to learn from ministers who have been doing this longer than me and this weekend proved extremely beneficial.
Getting food catered is a bigger hassle than I remember. I guess I had forgotten just how expensive it is to get food catered and how frustrating it can be when you’re estimating the amount of food you need. Perhaps this is something that you learn to do better the more often you do it. You learn something new every day!
Planning for Easter is no small task. There is part of me that is worried I’ve taken a bite a little too big in my preparations. I’m just hoping that, musically speaking, everything with come together by the miraculous work of God.
I was pleasantly surprised to win (for the second year in a row) a book from Southern Seminary during their SBTS Madness drive. This is a huge book giveaway that coincides with March Madness. Last year, I won a mini-commentary from Dr. Albert Mohler and this year, I won a book on Progressive Covenentalism. I’ve been intrigued by the debate between dispensationalism and covenant theology for a few years now, so I’ll be glad to dive into this book when I get some time…most likely this summer!
Speaking of seminary, I finished my first class over the weekend. I had an A before my final assignment submissions, so I’m hoping it’ll stay on that letter once everything is graded! I’m grateful for a weeklong break before the next class starts, especially considering I’ve got an entire weekend of music events planned at church!
We were blessed to have Becca’s grandparents with us for a couple of days last week. They drove down on Tuesday and spent the next two days with us. I enjoyed watching them with the girls and it was nice to get some free babysitting for a couple of hours while the wife and I hung out with the teenagers during their color war.
After living here for 8 months, we finally found some time to spend exploring all that is downtown Macon. The Cherry Blossom Festival was going on and it’s a HUGE event. We began at the gorgeous St. Joseph Catholic Church which underwent a remodel from 2004-2006. Though our time was brief, we were absolutely mesmerized by the beauty in and out of the edifice. We spent the next hour and a half on Third Street exploring the food trucks and the local artisan booths. Reagan loved dancing to the music the DJ was putting out. We even ran into a friend of mine from high school and her husband who now live in Macon. Beautiful weather paired with a hopping place made for a great day!
Unfortunately, Tennessee’s time in the NCAA tourney came to an end with a disappointing OT loss to Purdue last weekend. While it would have been nice to make it to the Final Four, the Vols have no reason to hang their heads. Coach Barnes led them through an incredible, record-breaking season and we’re all looking forward to what next year holds. Home sweet home to me!
For the first time in a while, we didn’t have anything on our calendars for a week. This gave me time to work on seminary assignments as I’m approaching the end of my first class. We really enjoyed uneventful evenings at home with our kids and plenty of Parks and Recreation. The next week looks very similar and we’re rejoicing.
For the first time in a long time, I sat down at my piano this week and played some classical music. I am usually playing church music either for corporate worship or choir anthems, so this was a nice change for me. It felt so good to play the classical stuff again, specifically music from my senior recital at Union. I loved it so much that I’m going to make it more of a routine during the week and maybe event teach myself a new piece while I’m at it. Or perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch…
Buying your first car as a married couple is a huge step. We knew we were inevitably going to have to get a minivan during our Christmas trip to Tennessee and that was confirmed during our most recent trip earlier this month. We did a little research, visited a dealership in a nearby city, test drove the one on our radar, and made a deal about an hour later! After watching my Dad successfully haggle with car salespeople for YEARS, I sought his advice and was able to talk $2,500 off the asking price. It was a little nerve-wracking, but we’re so excited about our new-to-us silver Nissan Quest! And in my opinion, my wife looks incredibly hot when driving it.
I absolutely love March Madness. I never really got into it until college when I roomed with a die-hard Kentucky Wildcats fan. Despite our team differences, he really got me loving the NCAA tournament and I’ve been making brackets ever since. My bracket is usually broken by the end of the first round (if not during the first four, like this year), but I love it no less. Rea has watched several games with me (rightly cheering on Tennessee) and mimicking a few of my outbursts. The wife has already had her fill of it and would love nothing more than for me to turn it off. But when the Vols have a decent shot at making it to the Final Four, turning it off is the last thing on my mind!
I was a bit irritated when we drove 25 minutes to the car dealership for our driving appointment only to be told that the vehicle was having a wheel barring replaced. There were no other vehicles within our price range to see, so we did our best to kill time in the area while being mindful that K would need feeding soon. That repair was a 2+ hour job and we ended up having to come back the next day. When you’re dealing with the public, first impressions are everything. To their credit, the made up for it in our dealings to overcome that bad first impression.