Wins & Losses (September 11-17)

Wins

  • I finished reading the fourth book in The Chronicles of Narnia series. This is my favorite book series (along with The Hunger Games) and I’ve loved diving back into them as an adult. Prince Caspian was just as exciting as I remembered. I had forgotten, however, how different the movie was from the book. Details remained, but were put in such a different order from the novel. I highly recommend reading “children’s” and “young adult” fiction chapter books as adults. They are much more fun that what’s considered adult fiction.
  • Homecoming Week has come and gone. Though I didn’t have many responsibilities, I certainly enjoyed the dress-up days. Bec and I were Sally Brown and Mister Rogers, respectively, for character day. We both went the redneck route for country vs. country club day. We channeled the 90’s and 2000’s on Decade Day and naturally, wore plenty of blue and gold for JMA day. There’s good and bad to spirit weeks, but it’s always fun to dress up differently!
  • I like to look for areas of my life, however small, that bring some element of joy. Lately, it’s been listening to Delilah in the evenings. Now this was a station my parents listened to when we would be taking long car rides at night and I was oblivious to it. But lately, when I’ve been folding laundry in the floor of my music room, it’s been so nice to turn on my radio and listen to a local station play The Delilah Show and hear all the good music she picks. I’ve also enjoyed the stories people tell. It’s comforting to know that Delilah is a believer and won’t select anything vulgar. And I’m totally secure enough in my manhood to admit all of this!

Losses

  • A common theme in my life these days is “when it rains, it pours.” And that was incredibly (and literally!) true last week. Our washer drain hose came out of the wall during a cycle and sprayed water all over our laundry room. As I was cleaning it up, I heard a pop and noticed a tiny bit of smoke coming up over our dryer receptacle. I got nervous, checked the breaker to make sure it was off, and began checking for fire or anything else. I dried up the area, ran to Lowe’s to get another receptacle, and attached it…to no avail. There was a current flowing, but no power. So I’m getting nervous. After 2-3 days, I notice that the arc (small fire) that occurred when water got into the receptacle broke the hot wire in two pieces. Not the easiest fix, but certainly cheaper than an appliance repairman. I bought new wire, crawled under the house, spliced the wires together until my dad and I can run a new one, and got my dryer working again. Just when I though everything was fine, I discover during ANOTHER wash cycle that I never returned the drain hose into the wall which led to our laundry room and half of he kitchen being flooded with about 1/8″ standing water. It took probably 10 towels to clean it all up. Finally got that situation fixed and Saturday was rough because in the midst of all that, our house was a disaster. So I’m impatient with everyone and everything trying to get my house clean. “When it rains, it pours.”

Wins & Losses (September 4-10)

Wins

  • A wonderful weekend was spent in McNairy County as we honored 8 new members of the McNairy County Music Hall of Fame. Among them was my first piano teacher, Geneva Seaton, whom I’d the honor of both nominating and inducting on Saturday. A sweet surprise happened when my friend, Shawn Pitts, was added as a surprise 9th inductee to the Hall of Fame. It’s safe to say no one has done more for the arts in McNairy County than Shawn and Joanna Pitts. It was also great to see several friends and family members AND watch Tennessee beat Pittsburgh. This was the first Tennessee game I’d watched in the state of Tennessee in a long while and man, it felt good!
  • I’ve only flown in large, commercial jets in my life. However, Atlanta offered a route to Jackson, TN through Southern Airways Express on a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan (single prop, 8-passenger plane) and I decided to take it. I was a little nervous going into it, but let me sing its praises! It’s just as comfy as flying in a large jet and it’s incredibly casual prior to boarding and after you land. The ticket was cheap and I would highly recommend it. Just don’t forget earplugs because that prop is loud!
  • We were incredibly glad to get a new-to-us fridge free from the parents of some friends of ours. We had replaced every other appliance in our kitchen, but the fridge still didn’t match the rest of it. We got a matching fridge and were able to move the old one out to the garage to become “the drink fridge” that every middle-class family has. It was a little frustrating getting everything into place, but we made it work!

Losses

  • I mourned with the rest of the world when I learned of Queen Elizabeth’s death last week. She was one of the most graceful ladies I’ve ever watched and clearly loved her family and country. I’ve read many accounts of her faith in Jesus and her willingness to speak of it often. What a life she lived during her 70-year reign and before. Rest well, Your Majesty!

Wins & Losses (August 28- September 3)

Wins

  • I picked up a new piano student last week and boy did I ever! I had no clue of this particular student’s background. He came to the house, we introduced each other, and when he said he could play a little, I asked for a demo. THE BOY STARTED WITH a MAJOR-MAJOR 7TH CHORD. And it got better from there. I’ve never seen an ear like this in such a young person (he’s 13). This is brand new territory for me, so we’ll see how it goes!
  • We spent our Labor Day weekend in Decatur with Becca’s side of the family. It was a wonderful time to get together because we won’t see them again before Thanksgiving, so we were all grateful that everyone could make the trip. We played game after game, and I learned a new game from my brother-in-law called Tichu. To my surprise, I caught on quickly and even made a Tichu once. We played Four On a Couch, Charades, Mafia, and Rook. If you’re ever around some Leets, games will be played! It was also fun to play with my nephew Andrew, and then catch up with all the adults too.

Losses

  • Our schedule required us to make the unfortunate decision not to attend Union’s Bicentennial Celebration in a couple of weeks. A few things came up and we couldn’t in good conscience make another weekend trip with the fam. We hate it because we were looking forward to seeing many friends (and running in our first 5K!), but it just wasn’t meant to be. We’ll be pretty gray-headed by the sestercentennial (80 and 77 respectively), so we’ll see just how spry we are then!
  • My reading definitely took a hit last week. Between work responsibilities, tasks at home, and the long weekend, I hardly read at all. Hoping to remedy that this week and perhaps even finish a book while I’m at it *fingers crossed*!

Wins & Losses (August 21-27)

Wins

  • I know this may not seem like a big deal to anyone but me, but R mastered her first level of sight words last week. I’ve mentioned how incredible it is watching someone learn to read and the fact that she can identify words in books from her sight words flash cards is just amazing to me. I’m so proud of how well she’s already done in Kindergarten and I can’t wait to watch her grow even more.
  • I last-minute decided to enroll in another grad school class for this trimester. I only have 3 classes left before I’m done, so it made sense to go ahead and at least do a music one. Ya boy is revisiting the wonderful world of music theory! It’s been about 9 years since I was in a theory class, so we’ll see how much has stuck around. Since I play by ear a lot, I’ve been putting music theory into practice a good bit since then. But, as my sweet wife (and former university music theory tutor at UU) put it, “Music theory isn’t about the practical.”
  • Using my autoharp in my music classes has been a blast. I was actually introduced to the autoharp when I was student-teaching in an elementary school classroom. I finally got one of my own last year, and it’s been a lovely addition to my lessons. It’s actually quite a good accompanying instrument for children’s voices, and since I don’t know how to play the ukulele yet, the autoharp is the magic tool!

Losses

  • I was incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Steve “The Big Kahuna” Coleman last week. Kahuna started Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, a camp I attended in North Carolina several times in high school. He always made a point to talk to me (he knew my folks from years back), and he made an incredible impact on my walk with Christ. His preaching was dynamic and in the very best way. Not only was he passionate about the gospel, he was passionate about preaching it. You never forgot a Kahuna sermon. And he always started his sermons with “This heeah is my Bible!”

Wins & Losses (August 14-20)

Wins

  • I believe I have finally found my niche. I avoided elementary music education after college because, in my opinion, it took so much more meticulous planning than secondary and I’d rather just play and sing music. However, after last school year, I was ready to get back into daily music-making and it has been an absolute joy. I love working with kids and I love making music with them. Spending a year getting to know them was extremely helpful and the opportunities for elementary music are endless. Yes, there is more meticulous, minute-by-minute planning. But it is so worth it when they make their way back to class singing the songs from your class and they say, “Don’t tell anybody this, but your class is my favorite!”
  • Watching R learn to read is amazing. I don’t like to use that word often because I feel it’s lost its sense of awe. But watching my 5-year old look at words and know what they say based on sight or phonics is awe-inspiring to me. It’s been 25-26 years since I learned how to read, so I’ve forgotten the process. But she loves doing it and I love watching her learn. It truly is amazing to watch someone open the door to the endless possibilities that reading offers.
  • Becca and I are becoming bread bakers extraordinaire. Her Mimi has been making homemade sourdough bread for years (literally) and I’ve been enjoying the dough of her labor since we got married. Becca decided she wanted to learn how to do it. So she got a cooking lesson over the summer and was given some of her Mimi’s 40-year old starter, and we’ve been making bread ever since. First of all, it’s delicious. Second of all, you either have to make some every week or feed the starter. So we just make it because it makes the house smell lovely, the bread tastes great, and we can give it to people simply because we can. I’ve tried it twice and though I still need to perfect the rising process, I haven’t made a gross loaf yet!

Losses

  • Huskies truly are escape artists. I’ve had to reinforce my fence countless times in the last couple of months because our dog keeps getting out. Rebar is good, but Rocky keeps finding new places to get out. It’s gotten so bad that we have to crate him during the day until we can trust him to stay in the fence for long periods of time. We ain’t there yet.
  • Beginning-of-school sickness is back. Thankfully, it’s not as strong as last year and I attribute that to my daily vitamin regimen (Multi, C, & D in the morning; zinc and iron in the evening). But that runny nose mess is no joke. Yay for Zyrtec!

Wins & Losses: Summer 2022 Recap

Wins

  • A summer tradition for us has been catching a Braves game while school is out. Though it was my fourth or fifth time to Truist Park, it was Becca’s first time. We had a ball with my folks and a few old friends. Though the Braves didn’t win and we only got to do the Chop once in the whole game, it was good to be back in the park for great baseball. Mom and Dad also stayed for the long Memorial Day weekend and they helped us a lot as we worked on our bathroom. Weather was beautiful which gave us plenty of play time in the yard!
  • Of course, each summer usually begins with a road trip to West Tennessee and 2022 was no different. We spent a week relaxing in Rossville where we found ourselves in the pool everyday and engaging in lovely conversation on “mega-deck.” We also got to meet our nephew, Andrew, for the first time which was a delight.
  • This one is a win, and kind of a half-loss. Before we could even finish our bathroom remodel, we had to take a weekend break and fix the kitchen. The reason? An element fire in our very old GE oven. Its days were numbered before we even moved in, so it was totally surprising. However, that little adventure sent us to Lowe’s where we bought a new slide-in range and overhead microwave. That also caused us to have to do some major cutting and remodeling in our cooking space. However, after about 12 hours of work and who knows how much inhaled sawdust, we got it working and we’re thrilled with it!
  • While we were in Tennessee, I got the wonderful news that my late piano teacher, Geneva Seaton, had been inducted into the McNairy County Music Hall of Fame. I nominated her last year and was told that though she wasn’t included in the class of 2021, her name would remain in the nomination pool. I’m thrilled to travel back to McNairy County in September to give her induction speech as this phenomenal lady receives the recognition she rightly deserves.
  • After a week in west Tennessee, all the Brashers (and one Greenhill) met up at Smith Lake in Jasper, AL for a few days of lake time. It was marvelous. Living on lake time, it was totally cool to get out in the boat three times a day or jump off the dock for a quick swim. We played good, ate good, and for the most part, slept good. ‘Twas lovely.
  • Hearing the news of the overturning of Roe v. Wade is moment I’ll never forget. It will be etched in my mind as a “Where were you when…?” experience. May we never return.
  • On July 8th, we FINALLY finished our master bathroom and closet remodel. It was six tough weeks of work and we are thrilled with how it turned out. The brightness of the room paired with the new space in the closet is glorious. The “Motel 6 bathroom” is no more!
  • Right after the bathroom was done, I got to work on our back porch. In fact, I spent my whole birthday working on it! Bec and I gave it a pressure wash, new porch screen, reinforced bottom half, lattice for the crawl space, and a fresh coat of paint. It looks brand new!
  • And then, without missing a beat, Bec and I headed over to JMA to lead a week of music camp for some of our JMA Trojans. We had a delightful time with the students and it gave me a chance to establish myself as their new music teacher!
  • I read a lot of books this summer and loved it. I had a good mix of fiction and non-fiction that kept me in my chair each morning. I’ve slowed down a little since school started, but I plan on reading 4-5 more before the year ends.

Losses

  • One sad thing, and really the only loss, is we never made it up and over to McNairy County this summer. Granted, spending time with the family is more important than visiting a place, but going back to the old stomping grounds just feels good. I hate that we didn’t make it, and hope we get to visit a few extra times before next summer.

Hymnal Series: 2008 Baptist Hymnal

I’ve decided to begin a new, irregular blog series on all the hymnals I own. My library of hymnals currently stands just south of 70, so we have a lot to go through!

We begin with the Baptist Hymnal ’08. This is the most recent hymnal published by B&H Publishing (Lifeway), the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Unlike previous editions, the ’08 was published along with the rollout of what was then called the Lifeway Worship Project. It featured a printed hymnal along with an enormous online database of sheet music for multiple instruments able to be purchased and downloaded immediately. This was revolutionary in the realm of church music. Additionally, you didn’t have to buy, say, the tenor saxophone part for every hymn. If you only wanted the tenor sax part for 1 song, you could get it. No more buying an entire collection unless you just wanted to.

This was the latest update to the Baptist Hymnal since the 1991 edition. Mike Harland had been at the helm of Lifeway Worship for three years at the time, and this was one of his goals coming in. Church music had changed faster than at any other time during the 1990s and 2000s, but few hymnals reflected that. Harland sought to break that trend. The new hymnal kept many of the standards from previous editions, added a few American gospel songs commonly found in revival and singing convention hymnbooks, and finally, inserted the praise and worship songs that had been loved for the past 17 years. Worship wars had gone on during that time, but Harland saw this as an opportunity to bridge the divide between the two camps. Harland had spent many years as a worship pastor, and still had the pastor’s heart when leading his team at Lifeway Worship. Harland gathered some of the finest theologians, musicians, composers, and editors within the church music world and created perhaps the finest hymnal of the day.

I vaguely remember seeing a new hymnal in 2008/2009 that my music minister had, and I noticed that the sheet music looked different from the ’91. But I didn’t get my hands on one until 2010 when my parents moved to Georgia. It was then that I began to appreciate it more. It was a beautifully compiled and edited hymnal that certainly outdid its predecessor. I loved how everything had been organized and I really loved the key changes in several hymns (check out “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”). The hymn categories are organized in a quasi-liturgical fashion (shhh, don’t tell anybody!), which I absolutely love. It wasn’t until late college that I discovered Lifeway Worship online.

OH. MY. GOSH.

It was a treasure trove of music. Every hymn from the ’08 plus additional songs as they received them. Music for every instrument you could imagine and immediately available if you purchased online. I am a bona fide Lifeway Worship junkie and believe it’s the best place to find well-arranged music for the church.

BONUS: Lifeway also marketed the new hymnal as The Worship Hymnal so that it could be used in other churches that weren’t part of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Wins & Losses (May 8-14)

Wins

  • Trying new recipes is always a risk. But I try to minimize the risk by keeping it cheap if it doesn’t work out. This time, it was a win! I’ve been on a Cajun food kick for a while and tried my hand at shrimp etouffee. It was a rather simple recipe I found in my old church’s cookbook and it was delicious! A fair amount of ingredients and easy cooking made it a win in our house. It also warmed up very well and made for a good lunch the next day!
  • I’m so excited to return to the classroom next year as an elementary music teacher! A bit of shuffling around JMA gave me the opportunity to teach music again while maintaining the communications part of my current job and I cannot wait. I love JMA and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the students in the elementary school this year. I believe that will help me tremendously in the fall. I have really missed doing music on a regular basis. I love kids and I love the music in elementary music education, so I’m thrilled to get back on the saddle this summer!
  • We began work over the weekend on what is to be our new walk-in closet and expanded/remodeled master bathroom. We have never cared for our bathroom and closet design. So with the design help of my parents, we got to work this weekend framing it up. It will be no small feat, but Bec was ready to knock down some walls which meant I had to get some framing up first.
  • I recently finished The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. It was a wonderful read for my dystopian-loving self. I’ve been a Hunger Games fanatic for years and this was right up my alley. Once I closed that one up, I started Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Union: A Democrat, A Republican, and A Search for Common Ground by Jordan Blashek and Christopher Haugh. Both of these are quite the opposite of the fiction novel that preceded them, but it’s a nice change of pace.

Losses

  • The end of school is getting us pretty tired. All five of us are pretty wiped by the end of each day, making us less motivated to accomplish various tasks or household chores. As much as we all love being at JMA, we’re certainly ready for a long-awaited summer vacation.

Wins & Losses (May 1-7)

Wins

  • Sunday night was a blast. Due to some unavoidable circumstances, Bec had to cancel her spring play and do a variety show in its place. We had some incredibly talented high schoolers and middle schoolers perform for a packed house at JMA. Becca and I finished the night with a great rendition of “Taylor, the Latter Boy” thanks to a bet she made with her students. We had a wonderful time hanging out with the students and the audience was so receptive. We can’t wait to do it again next year!
  • We had a fun family outing with our small group on Wednesday. We made the super-short drive across the road to the county park for some kickball. Although I’m no athlete, I am crazy competitive and it showed that night. Our team played hard and I scored the winning run! The kids had a fun time at the playground, and Becca and I were loved spending time with our small group. Fun times!
  • I was happy to find a good deal on a used lawn mower in my area. My dad was so gracious to give me the old one I used in high school, but it was too wide to fit through my fence gate. So I found another that was rebuilt and mowed my yard on a riding mower for the first time in probably 7 years. I used a push mower when we lived in Memphis, so this was a nice change! I’ve always loved cutting grass, so I was in my happy place. It was made better because my son sat on the back steps the whole time watching me with his dog next to him, and every time I passed them, he gave me a thumbs up. It was great.

Losses

  • In October 2020, my beloved piano teacher John passed away from cancer. And last week, my very first piano teacher, Geneva Seaton, passed away. Mrs. Geneva discovered in me a love for music in 2000 when I was in third grade, and laid the foundation for what would bring me some of the greatest joy in my life. If I could emulate one person’s legacy of service to the church, it would be hers. In addition to teaching piano to hundreds of students (including my own mom), she devoted 63 years of her life as the pianist and organist for one church. That’s incredible. If ever there were a saint among church musicians, Geneva Seaton certainly was one.
  • I might still be under 30 for a couple more months, but my body sure doesn’t think so. After kickball on Wednesday, my entire lower body was sore for three days. Thursday was rough, but Friday was worse as I found myself (and Becca) limping everywhere we walked. This either means 1) I’m getting old and this kind of activity will happen no matter what or 2) more activity like this will make me less sore over time. Either way, ouch.

Wins & Losses (April 24-30)

Wins

  • Late Tuesday night, Rebecca and I became an aunt and uncle! Our sister-in-law welcomed a beautiful and healthy baby boy and we are so excited for them!
  • I learned about some positive changes in my job coming next school year. I can’t make them widespread public yet, but I am excited about the new opportunities and will share them when I can!
  • It was an unexpected pleasure to chat with a Union professor last week. I love Union and any chance to talk about it is a blessing. Sabrina Warren has done marvelous things for that department vocally and I’m grateful for her time there.
  • I enjoyed hanging out with a good friend on Wednesday. It’s not often that I get time to spend with friends by myself, so I’m grateful for any opportunity to enjoy the company.
  • I finally turned in all my assignments for this trimester’s grad school class. Since I was the only one enrolled in the class and it became a directed reading course, the time was very flexible and I got everything turned in about a week ahead of schedule. These aren’t my favorite ways to do classes (I like the interaction from discussion boards/forums), but it still gave me some great books to read.

Losses

  • I was absolutely shaken by the news of the death of Naomi Judd on Saturday afternoon. I rarely get worked up over the death of a celebrity. But I became a huge fan of Naomi Judd about 7 years ago, and enjoyed listening to old songs by The Judds and listening to Naomi’s talks on mental health. I had just bought my tickets to see them in Atlanta in October. The country music world lost a legend and in the most tragic of ways.