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December 3, 2018


I’m writing this on the eve of Advent Day 2. Today was Advent Day 1…and it was a very full and wonderful day.

And I am very, fully, wonderfully tired.

At the end of this day, after a morning of Advent 1 Worship; after an afternoon spent with a friend at the movie theater; after dinner at the home of church members, I came home, brewed a cup of tea. And I opened the bag Wendy handed me this morning.

The bag contained CDs she bought for me at a concert she attended Saturday night at a church here in Fayetteville. David Phelps singing Christmas music, traditional and original. I put one in the stereo and sat down on the couch to just listen.

Music carries the Word of God to my ears in a way that is almost always refreshing and inspiring…or, like tonight, in a way that is also relaxing and untangling. There is something about scripture and sacred story paired with musical notes and various instruments that brings new insight to the pondering what it is to respond with obedience to God’s word.

The scripture for today comes from Isaiah 1.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
   you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
   you people of Gomorrah!
11 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
   says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt-offerings of rams
   and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
   or of lambs, or of goats.

17   learn to do good;
seek justice,
   rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
   plead for the widow.

Advent Music

November 29, 2018

I love Advent. I love music. I love Spotify.

It’s a few days early, but I may have already started listening to my Advent playlist.

Here it is.

Got suggestions for songs I could add? Comment or message me!

Photo-a-Day: #Celebrate

March 1, 2015

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From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!

(–verse 3 of “The Canticle of the Turning” by Rory Cooney)

Show Me The Way

July 18, 2013

I have a high school friend who has taken quite an interest in mission work lately. In fact, she’s pretty certain that God’s calling her to the mission field when she’s done with her studies.

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Last week, we were on a team doing mission work with Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia. During our time there, I had a moment where I was feeling particularly troubled and I had a feeling she’d understand what I meant when I asked, “Do you ever just feel overwhelmed about all of the sadness in the world?”

She did understand and she did share my sadness. Which did not make the sadness actually any better, but it was good to be understood in that moment.

So, anyway, for lack of anything else to write today, I’m sharing a song that became an anthem of sorts on January 16, 1991. The date was my mom’s birthday, but also the night that George HW Bush announced that the war with Iraq had begun. I was in my bed that night, feeling maybe for the first time in my young life that there actually was a lot of sadness in the world and listening to the radio. B96 played a song I had never heard as a sort of tribute–“Show Me The Way” by Styx. Since then, it’s kind of been a song I turn to from time to time.

Every night I say a prayer
In the hopes that there’s a Heaven
And everyday I’m more confused
As the saints turn into sinners

All the heroes and legends
I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay
And I feel this empty place inside
So afraid that I’ve lost my faith

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Please show me the way

And as I slowly drift to sleep
For a moment dreams are sacred
I close my eyes and know that there’s peace
In a world so filled with hatred

That I wake up each morning and turn on the news
To find we’ve so far to go
And I keep on hoping for a sign
So afraid I just won’t know

Show me the way, show me the way
Bring me tonight to the mountain
And take my confusion away
And show me the way

And if I see a light, should I believe
Tell me how will I know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away

Show me the way, show me the way
Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that I’ll get there someday
And please show me the way

Every night I say a prayer
In the hopes that there’s a Heaven

So, even as I was typing the stuff above, 8 YO Jacey came into my office, carrying a small suitcase of her treasures and sat down in a chair. “Hi, Jacey!” I exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”

“I just came to visit you!” She exclaimed. So we visited for awhile and I thanked God for people and circumstances that also help me remember all of the good things there are in the world as well.

May you know all of God’s goodness today!

Picture A Day: Music

July 20, 2012

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My morning was spent worship creating with Whitney, Randy, Rev. John and later, Nibby. I loved every second. It was wonderful.

I never thought I’d have a reason to watch Justin Bieber’s documentary (Rockumentary? Hairumentary?)…

Katie (My little sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters) and I usually hang out on Tuesday afternoons. We usually plan a week ahead. Last week was her birthday, so we skipped our outing. She asked if this week, I could pick her up from school, take her to our house and watch “Never Say Never” with her. So we did. Katie and I watched the first half of the movie together and then were joined by an almost thirteen year-old guy when he got home from school (name withheld intentionally).

Katie is a true Belieber. She loves everything about Justin Bieber. You should have seen her birthday party last week–Biebertastic to the max! It was fun to watch the movie with her.

Two things I didn’t know:

Justin Bieber plays instruments. Drums, guitar, piano (I think). That always kind of gives a singer a little more credibility for me.

He also is a really good dancer.

One things I guessed correctly about:

There are a lot of scenes with teen and tween girls screaming loudly.

Oy.

Would I recommend the movie?

It depends. If you are 10 years-old (or maybe a bit older or younger…), yes, watch it. If you like Snoop Dogg or Usher or Miley Cyrus, yes watch it. If you are related to or mentor a 10 year-old or Snoop or Usher or Miley, yes watch it with them. If your favorite color is purple, yes watch it. If you’re looking for a way to help your kid sell out Madison Square Garden by the time he/she is 17 years-old, yes watch it.

Otherwise? Well, maybe you don’t have a reason to watch it. But never say never!

 

My Soundtrack

January 23, 2010


So, my dear childhood friend, Sarah (who has a really cute and fun blog called “Spoonful of Sarah”) posted a list of songs that have been meaningful in her life. Since I read that post, I’ve been thinking about the songs that have been meaningful in my life–so I decided to post my list as well.

Music has always been part of my life. I’ve been singing since I was small. I’m sure there were a lot of songs that I loved to sing when I was little–“Where Is Thumbkin” during library story time, “Five Little Pumpkins” in kindergarten, “I Am A Promise” in children’s choir at church, songs in music class at school, songs with my family, songs everywhere! I sang in choirs throughout my childhood, took voice lessons in high school, enjoyed singing at campus ministry meetings and gatherings in college, sang in church services throughout my adult life and currently sing with our church’s 8:30 worship team. I listen to a lot of music and I always have. I have a pretty eclectic musical taste, as this list will reveal. So here it is:

Whitney Houston’s
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” This was the first cassette tape I owned and I received it for Christmas somewhere around the time I was seven years old. I played it over and over.

I find it kind of funny that the second song on my list is “Nasty Boys” by Janet Jackson. I learned every word and made up a dance to it, which I performed regularly in my bedroom when I was 9.

My friend Jennifer and I watched “Dirty Dancing” every day for about a year. My next song is “The Time Of My Life” from the soundtrack.

The next song is Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance” for no other reason than they played it at EVERY SINGLE school dance I attended in middle school and high school. Also, let’s take a moment to recognize that some pretty inappropriate songs were played at school dances. Yes, thank you, that does make me sound kind of old.

In high school, I listened to a lot of musicals. My favorite was “Les Miserables.” I sang “On My Own” in a church talent show when I was in tenth grade.

Wow, did I listen to Guns n Roses “November Rain” a lot. I mean, a lot. Especially on long trips with my family. On my giant walkman. I think I wore the tape out.

During my senior year of high school, I had four CDs that were playing non-stop in my bedroom. “Jagged Little Pill” by Alanis Morrisette, “August and Everything After” by the Counting Crows, “Automatic For The People” by REM and Nirvana “Unplugged.”

One of my maternal grandfather’s favorite hymns was “How Great Thou Art.” I sang it as a solo in church once when they were visiting. I can’t remember the occasion, but I do remember the song and I still get a little misty eyed when we sing that song in church.

I was part of a fantastic youth group when I was in high school. Our youth director, Christin, took me to my first Christian Concert: Michael W. Smith, Stephen Curtis Chapman and Amy Grant (I know–like the big 3 in 1996!). Smitty’s “Friends are Friends Forever” is a song I sang at our high school baccalaureate. Also, it should be noted that this song was featured prominently at many closing circles at camps I counseled when I used to counsel camp.

I discovered Carly Simon as an adult. Her song “You’re So Vain” makes me feel cool. I have no idea why, but I love to sing it.

Jason and I danced to “If You Could See What I See” by Geoff Moore (and the Distance) at our wedding. Some days, I wish we had chosen something a little less…cheesy. But it’s a good song for wedding dances, I suppose.

Wow, there are so many other songs I could list. My current favorites are Jack Johnson, Chris Tomlin, Dashboard Confessional, Andrew Peterson, Norah Jones, Coldplay and the soundtrack to “Pulp Fiction.” Like I said–eclectic.

So, what are your songs?

Dashboard Confessional

January 3, 2010

The song that’s been running through my head all weekend…

All At Once

December 20, 2009

Church Easter Pictures

April 13, 2009


My brother, Jeff, came to celebrate Easter with the family and help lead music at the 8:30 service.Jeff, Whitney and Randy warm up before the 8:30 service.

A couple of pictures of the Early Service Music Team: Jeff (guitar and keyboard), Whitney (guitar), Randy, Harrison, Becky, Jonas (egg shaker)


Here are a couple of pictures of kids at the first service helping with a song. From left to right: Jonas, Jac, Italia, Michael, Adam Riley, Tolliver, Lucy, Jasper.


First Grade Tolliver came into the first service and reported that a squirrel had carried one of our Easter eggs up a tree. During the hunt, we found the chewed up egg without any candy!

Keymoni gets that egg!

Cooper must have practiced!

Martha takes a moment to inspect her egg

Nelson and Nelson

Three generations–Savannah, Helen and Leslie

Pam and Whitney after the first service

Molly stops hunting to pose for a picture

MacKenzie and Trevor hunt for eggs


The Durhams