Family Photo 2015

Family Photo 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year, A New You...again!

So it is New Year's eve and of course people are beginning to think about all things that they want to do different in the coming year! The list is long and varied ranging from saving more money, reading more books, to planning for additions to their family, preparing to lose a loved one! Every year at this time we all find ourselves saying..."This year will be different!" Or "This year will be better!"

Both statements are true! 2010 will be a different year! 2010 will be a better year from many people! But of course the notion of us starting a new life trend, weight loss plan, new commitment, will-for some of us-result in disappointment. We find ourselves starting January 1st with such spirit and gusto...and by the time we make it to March the spirit has faded, the gusto is gone! So how do we compact this pattern? How do we beat the cycle of New Year's disappointment?

For me personally, I had to create a road map...and written plan! I cannot go into the New Year with a head full of plans and no way to start them! However, with the writing of this plan, I am fully aware that God could and can come in and change this plan to His liking! So maybe the written plan is a rough draft and God will come in and make the final proof and edits.

Since 2010 is the beginning of a new decade, instead of making new year resolutions I decided to write out goals i would like achieve by the end of this decade! My first piano teacher, Tony Carrillo, encouraged me years ago to write out life goals in 10 year sets! I found the list I wrote in 1999 and it was interesting to see how much of my life had changed and how many of the goals were really achieved! So I am sharing with you my "New Decade Resolution/Goals"

-Continue to Campaign for "Take A Moment" Tuesday! Changing the world through kindness to strangers!

-Complete my Ordination Track

-Complete my Master's Degree

-Develop Ministry Mentor program for Worship Leaders

-Participate in 3 musicals (non directing role)

-Continue writing in journals, and blog

-Reading through Entire Bible (6 times)

-Participate in 10 Mission trips/Service Projects

-Reduce Household debt no less then 50%

-Continue on reach my target weight loss goal

-Record a CD

-Personal trips 2 NYC, California, Europe, Prince Edward Island!

-in all things ask how God is being glorified in what I am doing!

-Continue asking if I am giving God the best I have to offer!

My prayer for everyone is that you all find favor in the Lord! That He would so richly bless Your life, and in turn we would all become better servants, better people, as we continue to serve Him!

"For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper and not to harm you...Plans to give you a hope and a future." Jer. 29:11 paraphrased

Happy New Year!

Christmas Moments with Keller

So I would have to say that this was the best Christmas with this point! I am sure there will be many more adventures, but something about this year was super exciting for not just him but for the whole family.
Of course we continued our tradition of spending Christmas Day and 3 extra days at Disney World! He was a kid in a 20,000 acre candy store! We would ask him what he wanted to do and naturally all he wanted to was ride the monorail, parking lot trams, and transportation buses! Had we known that in the beginning, we could have saved a ton of money! LOL However, once inside the parks he did ride several rides and had a great time! He kept saying that this was the "best trip ever!"
Another great thing that happened this year was Keller singing at the Christmas Eve Service! Mark this moment as the beginning of my show dad career! But I need to set this moment up a little better! Earlier in the month, Keller had his concert with the pre-school. It is always one of those events that will go really well or will self-destruct because of crying children and kids just over excited about the fact that it is Christmas! The evening started out great and quickly went south! To make a long story short, Keller was not able to sing in the rest of the show because he was just to hyped up! But I know he really wanted to sing a couple of songs at the end of the show!
So I decided to see if Keller would be willing to sing Silent Night for the Christmas Eve service. His response was "Yes Daddy! I will sing Silent Night and Feliz Navidad!" He was bound and determined to sing two songs...but I finally convinced him that he really only needed to sing the one! So we practiced for a week on how to hold a microphone & singing softly, how to stand...all things you need to know for perfect stage presence!
Well the evening came, and Keller decided that he did not want to sing...typical diva! Eventually his mother talked him down and he decided that he would do it! When the time came, he walked up on stage with me and grabbed his microphone! I started playing the intro and away he went! At the end of the verse, he turned to me and said, "Take a bow!" As I looked over at him, he was raising his right arm to bend over and take his bow!
Could this be the beginning of a stage career? Oh boy!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A View from the Director's Chair....The Finale

So we have been finished with the show for a couple of weeks now...and I am still feeling the effects of the whole production. As I was reflecting on the entire experience, there were several memories that made me smile, laugh and even inspired me. There were also some moments that were sad and I need to forget them...quickly! In this finale blog post, I was trying to figure out how to sum up this entire experience. Finally I was inspired by David Letterman...of all people, to create a Top Ten of some of the best moments of the show...from my prospective! I am sure that the cast/choir/crew could make some additions to the list, so be watching out for additional comments!

10. The Animal Handlers and their Costumes:

As many of you know, we try to have live animals during our Christmas productions. This year was a little difficult securing all the animals we wanted but we did have some make an appearance. During the second half of the show, the donkey makes his entrances with a group of people. He is of course being lead by the animal handler. What I realized during the performance was that in this biblical village scene, the audience saw the beautiful bibical costumes and scenery...and smack in the middle was a lady with a donkey wearing a black shirt, jeans and of course the Santa Hat.

9. Santa Gone Wild:

At the end of one of the dress rehearsals, we were all in the process of cleaning up and getting things ready for the next evening. As I was writing some stuff down on my trusty yellow pad, the actor playing Santa caught my attention. So I walked over to talk with him and was caught completely off guard! He said to me, "Hey check this out!" And just like that, no sooner did I look up, He quickly ripped open His Santa jacket, chuckled, and was off in a dash! I had never been flashed before...and let me be clear, it was just upper body!

8. Sawhorse Ballet:

One of my voice students, Noelle, is also a wonderful dancer! There was one song in the show that I asked her to do some solo dance work. Before the song begins, the stage is suppose to be cleared to give her room and freedom to dance has she felt lead. One of the performances,- I think it was Friday night- the two sawhorses from the previous scene were still on the stage. By the time I noticed, the song was well into gear and Noelle was ready to make her flying leap from one side of the stage into the other. I could not see very well, but I could hear a small thump once she landed...when i turned and looked she was face to face with a sawhorse...the best part is, she kept on going! Kudos to you Noelle!

7. The Pop-Up Shepherd:

Having teens in a Christmas production can be a lot of fun. I know for us, this is a really good group of students...and they can keep things interesting...for example our pop up shepherd Nick Polk. I gave him this name because you just never knew where he was going to be! One of the singers told me that she kept seeing this young man run across the stage in a blackout, but I did not believe her, until the Saturday night show...when I saw Nick bolt across the stage! Not sure where he was headed...but he missed his speaking line anyway! LOL And if he did not miss his line-which only happened once- he would deliver the line in a different location! Thanks Nick for keeping us guessing!

6. The Camera does add 10lbs...or 50lbs:

I think it was at the matinee performance that Joe Watson pulled his brother Nick up on the stage to our Christmas version of "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" It was a great laugh...and I thought Nick and Joe did a great job of playing alone...but that is not what this is about. After the show, Nick was helping the team set stuff for the next show and a lady stopped him and told him that he did a great but "You could stand to lose about 50lbs!" Folks, that is a direct quote! I am amazed at how people do not think before they speak....and yes I know I have done the same thing. But people get some class! Don't worry Nick, I got yo back!!!!

5. Director's Choice of Words....that will inspire you:

So speaking of people talking, I confess that sometimes I have a problem clearly communicating things to people. It is nothing major until I am trying to prove a point to people or I am wanting to say something inspiring and it just comes out all wrong. But these 2 cases are not those moments. At the final dress rehearsal, I was talking to some people about The Christmas Song. They looked at me funny and I said, "You know the song ....(cue music) 'Chestnuts open on the roasting fire..." Of course I did not realize I had the words open and roasting backwards...clearly anyone could make that mistake, right? The other moment was at the end of rehearsal when we were taking cast pictures. It was a group shot and the photographer had to stand on a ladder. Once she was ready I called out to the cast and said, "Okay everyone, look up here...She is going to flash you!" Of course the room erupts in laughter and she turned so red...but she was a good sport!

4. The Green Sofa & the Flop Heard round the World:

There are a handful of moments in my life that have made me laugh so hard and uncontrollably....This was one of those moments! We were in the first dress rehearsal and we found this antique lime green sofa! It had wood looked good. Anyway, we were doing a scene based on the tune "Sleigh Ride." I had a farmer and his wife and children getting ready for a Christmas party. As I was watching the scene unfold, I noticed the daughter getting ready to make her entrance with her friend! In that moment I thought to myself, "I hope she does not run and flop into that sofa." No sooner did I finish that thought, she was skipping through the doorway down to the sofa! And was as if God had given me the gift of prophecy...she flew into that sofa and then there was a CRACK! Those in the cast will remember this night very well, because I spent the next 3 minutes in the floor laughing...loudly!!!!!! When the song ended, I tried to regain my composure...but it did not work! I was giggling like a school girl...and ya'll know I have a high pitched laugh!

3. Run Away Wheel Chair:

At the end of every show, we have the cast, choir, and crew come out and meet with the audience/guest as they leave! At our last performance, there was a lady pushing her friend in a wheel chair. I did not notice them right away because of all the other people coming out of the doors. As the crowd died down, I saw these lovely ladies coming in my direction...or so I thought! The lady piloting the wheel chair had made a hard right turn to head down the small hill of the driveway. As she was walking down, she noticed I was standing there and wanted to come back and talk to me. Would you believe that this lady just let go of the wheel chair and started talking with me? OH YES she did...and there is more! As she is talking to me, I notice out of the corner of my eye that her friend is slowly rolling down the hill....ALONE!!!!!! The good news is that one of the men in the choir saw her rolling away and caught her, just as the lady talking to me realized that she had let her go! Only in Florida!!!!!

2. The Voice in the Darkness:

We had several new people join the cast for the show...which is always a great thing! It is neat to watch them discover just how creative they can be with a role. Opening night was a bit nerve racking for a couple of new actors, but they did a great job. One scene I remember specifically was the end of scene 2. The villagers leave the stage in a blackout and we had 3 villagers comeback on stage to quote scripture to move the story along! So everything was happening as it was suppose to and I could see the people getting ready on the dark stage! Then, all of a sudden, I hear this voice....the Voice in the darkness... quoting the first passage of scripture! Quickly the lights come up and reveal that no one was there...except the other two people who where waiting for the lights! Was it a spirit? Was it a special effect? No, just an actor who forgot to wait for the lights to come on! LOL

1. It's Opening night...what could possibly go wrong:

You spend all those weeks and months preparing for this moment: Opening night! There is so much riding on the first performance. Word of mouth about your show begins at this you have to bring your A game right? I alway think of opening night as your real dress rehearsal...only in the sense that you have people watching it and you have to go on whether the scene was correct or not! So there we are, getting settled on the stage for the first act...the crowd is checking us out. We are checking out the crowd...and away we go....or not! We got 1 minute into our first song and lost our sound equipment! Praise the Lord we still had power...just no sound! There are a lot of things going through my mind at that moment! But in the 3 steps it took me to turn and face the audience, I was in prayer! The lesson I learned through this first act is that God needed to show up and remind us that He was with us! Sure we committed this performance in prayer, but maybe this was another way for Him to remind us that He was going to carry us not just through that opening night, but through the whole weekend...if we move out of the way and let him!

Eventually, the sound tracks were working again, and the show did go on! But I am forever indebted to the cast/choir/crew for an amazing weekend!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A View from the Director's Chair (Special Edition)....Statements from Keller

Well we made it through our first performance last night! Yes I said made it because of the strange sound issues and quarks that happened in act I. But my hat goes off to the tech team for remaining calm and cool in this moment of crisis. But also, my hat goes off to the actors and singers who had to make quick adjustments as we rewrote the entire act right here on the spot! To say the least, it was an interesting evening!
Yesterday before the show, Keller and I had to pick up the playbills for the performance. The print shop that we use is about 45 minutes away, so we had time to hang out! Plus we had to take the church van, because of all the boxes, so he was pretty excited about this trip! So as we were driving, Keller told me that he was "really excited" about being a snow flake in the show!
He continued by saying,
"Dad, I need to practice for the snowflakes."
"Ok, Keller you can practice if you need to." As I was saying this to him, I looked in the rear view mirror and could see him bobbing his head to some song in his head. Then all of a sudden the little singing voice pops out "LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW." Then he went back to the head bobbing. I quickly discovered that he was replaying the song in his head, and that he would only sing the final statement of "Let it Snow". It was to funny to watch!
Fast foward to last night's performance. I was a little nervous about how he would respond to the almost 500 people in the audience. When I introduced Keller and his friend Darcy, the audience of course started clapping for them! Their faces were priceless because as they were walking down, they had to stop and look at if to make sure that everyone was safe. Anyway, they made their way down to the stage and they introduced themselves. The song began and off they went, dancing their hearts out...really it was more jumping in circles, but the point is they were cute! I even gave Keller the microphone and let him sing the "Let it snow" sections!
When the song was over, the kid even knew to stop and take a bow! I promise I did not teach that to him!
At the end of the show, I went to pick him up from child care and he told me "Daddy, we were the best snowflakes ever!! This is a great day!" It was in this moment, I realized how much of a child's identity is wrapped up in their parent's identity! Because he sees me leading worship or performing, Keller felt totally comfortable with walking into the sanctuary with all those people and sing his heart out. And did not think twice about it!
I am not sure I will make a good Show Dad!!!!!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A View from the Director's Chair (part 1)...Performance Eve

Tonight we had our last dress rehearsal! I really cannot believe that the time has finally come! To be honest, I am already thinking about next monday and the big let down that always comes at the end of a performance. Maybe that is one of the bittersweet things about performing. You spend weeks and months perparing for this production...and then in 4, 2 hour performances you are done!

Everyone has worked really hard, and I am extremely proud of everyone! One of the cooliest things about this show is that, this production is not just for those who are gifted musically. There is a part for everyone, and I think everyone has embraced their roles/characters very well! Of course there is the perfectionist side of my that still has 30 items on the to-do list before tomorrow night, but I am resting in the knowledge that God is going to bless the efforts of my friends.

I think I enjoy this particular show so much because it takes this simple word Joy and builds 3 progressive themes. Our Joy as we experience the season of Christmas; our Joy as we relive the story of Christmas; and our Joy as we embrace the Savior of the World. We have taken a show that is truly much more then a production. I feel that it offers the audience an opportunity to particpate and be active! It invites them to particpate in worship as we remember Christmases of the past. Beloved carols, worship songs and scripture are woven together with the sounds and the spirit of the season. The act of rejoicing is timeless...just ask the angels! My prayer is that we can connect contemporary Christmas joy with the joy of those experiencing the first Christmas.

So to all the cast, choir, crew, and support staff, I say thank you for your committement to see this journey to the end! As Christians, we are all called to share the good news to those we encounter...and I cannot think of a better way then through this production we are presenting! You are a blessing to me and I thank you all for working with me. Remember to move/sing with purpose!

You are Loved!


p.s. the phrase "move with purpose" is taken from one of my former directors, Krista Jo Miller!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A View from the Director's Chair

COMING SOON.... 3 short blogs entries about your adventure in putting our Christmas production together! There are a lot of great stories to tell both on and off the stage! Stay Tuned!

Statements from Keller....part I

As many of you know, I am a big fan of writing in my journal(s). Before I met Ashley, I created a journal for her that was filled with thoughts, statements, and prayers for her! I gave her the journals as a wedding gift. I always knew that a journal was a great way to reflect upon things in your life and have a great way to keep those special moments in your life. So I have continued to write in journals for both Keller and Baby Gage!
Long story short, I was writing in Keller's book the other day about his adventure to the eye doctor...and I realized that this was to good and i had to share it with the masses of people that follow the blog (all 13 of you)!!!!

When we walked into the doctor office, Keller says to me, "Daddy, we have 3 special steps." "Okay Keller, what are the special steps?"
Keller replies, "Step 1: we say hello to the Dr. Step 2: we put the flashlight in the Doctor's eyes! Step 3: I will get Red glasses."

So I thought he was feeling pretty good about this visit. We walked into the exam room and Keller quickly got his flashlight ready...and when the doctor walked in he proudly said, "Dr. you have to sit in the chair and open your eyes."
Of course, this doctor has no bed side manner and gave a quick smile and told Keller to sit down.
In his seat, Keller decided to just start shining the light in the doctor's eyes! Looking annoyed, the Dr. encouraged Keller to put the flashlight down and let him look into Keller's eyes with his special light! After the quick eye check we had to go into another room...Keller quickly labeled it the "Dark Room" and did not want to go in. I guess he knew that it was going to be trouble for him, because he turned to the nurse and said "You can't put that bad water in my eyes!"
So after dilating his eyes, the poor kid was ready to go...but we still had to wait an hour and go back and see the Dr.

After an hour of waiting, our time came to go back in with the Dr. We fought the major battle of holding my child still while the Dr. looked in his eyes to match his prescription. 15 minutes later we were finished...and the Dr. was explaining some issues to me....all while Keller was screaming his eyes out.
The doctor wrapped up and asked me if I had any questions...and out of nowhere; through the big tears comes this voice that proclaims..."Dr. Silverman, I think you are very informative!!!!"
I looked down at Keller and he had this big smile on his face!
Only my child could fight through tears and give someone a compliment!

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's not about falling off the wagon...or is it?

Early this year, there was a small group of people at our church that felt like God was us to go through a year long bible study dealing with health and weight loss. This study deals with the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual side of healthy living. And of course it was designed to help us lose weight as a lifestyle change...not as a quick fix! All of us came to the group for different reasons, but we all knew and know that we have reached a point in our weight loss journey that would need more then what we could possibly do on our own.

Like most programs dealing with weight loss, we had our ups and our downs. During one of our weekly meetings, all of us were having a bad week! We are talking serious weight gains across the board! To lighten up the mood, I came up with this clever little statement..."It's not about falling off the wagon, it's what you land in!" But what exactly does that mean? At first sight, it got a few laughs and even carried for a while as a sign to other members that we were being tempted to eat something that we probably should not be eating. Clearly, the wagon is the healthy living wagon. When we fall - or at least when I fall - I would tend to land in a pit of chocolate mousse, or a bucket of french fries! The list could go on, but the point I wanted to make was that we could pull ourselves up and dust the powdered sugar off our lips and press on and move forward.

So did we press on? Did I shake off the mousse and jump on the tread mill? It pains me to say it but the answer is no! I let the sugar and the fast food get the best of me. I am only speaking for myself at this point; but I let a laundry list of things in my life get in my way and block me from the path I was headed down! The sad thing is, I was making really good progress. To sum it all up, I have gained weight again...and basically have given up on the journey. For the past 4 or so months, I have not been keeping up my end of the bargain, when it came to this lifestyle journey. And even as I am typing this entry, I am replaying the things I should have eaten and trying to forget the things I did eat today!

But I am rejoicing because I know that God has not given up on me! Even when we started this journey, I never realized how much my eating habits and physical stamina, really can effect my ministry! Now let me stop right here and clarify! In no way am I saying that God only wants to use pretty people! What I am saying is that He calls us to give of our best. And if I am stuffing twinkies, pop tarts and who knows whatever else in my face, clearly I am not giving my best to Him. THAT HURTS! It hurts because I want everything that I say and that I do be a reflection of His love and His grace in my life. So when I am going through the drive-thru or I am having a second piece of whatever, there is a part of me that has to twinge because I know there is more...and not just in the food sense.

So today, I am saying all of this because I need to be honest! I need for my group members to know how sorry I am for letting them down! I need my wife to know that this is not her fault that I turned preggo sympathy pains into sympathy eating! Above all, I am approaching His throne with the most humble of hearts. I am coming to Him, because I know that I cannot to this alone. And not just weight loss, its life in general! So maybe I needed to fall off the wagon!

I ask for your prayer because I know the road is not going to be easy! Especially because the holidays are coming upon us! I would ask that you hold me accountable as I head down this road. I know that I am never alone, but I know I need to keep my eyes set forward to the reward he has for me!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Prayers by Keller

Just wanted to share Keller's closing to his prayer! "Thank u 4 living in my heart. We pray this all in MY name, Amen!" the my is of course referring to himself

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finding Your Sabbath

Well it is the end of October...and that means that things are getting crazy in the Gage house. Things are starting to take off with the Christmas production, which involves several nights of rehearsals, bad eating, and little rest! However, I need to confess that I have felt some extra stress over the past month. With Ashley working as much as she can before the baby comes, my works schedule has been adjusted. There are days that I feel like I don't get anything done; and then there are days where it is smooth sailing. But I am sure all people feel that way about their jobs. I am blessed to have a job that allows me the freedom of flexibility...but there are times that the O.C.D. side of me wants to kick in and work overtime.
I have always been a person that has never rested well. What I mean is that, though there is this desire in me to rest and take vacation...I am not very good at it. Just as my wife! Even at night, it takes me a while to wind down, because there are so many thoughts going through my mind!
But God is faithful and was quick to reveal himself to me this week! In my quiet time the other day, I landed on a simple statement in the book of Mark. It says "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." In my tired state, I remember thinking, "Okay Lord, that is what I am trying to do...but I am in the wrong book of the bible." And I did not think twice about the quote.
Later that night, I was reading a book and there was a section titled "Rediscovering Rest." Are you picking up on the pattern here? In the short essay, the author, Lea Collins, is pointing to the importance-physically, emotionally, and spiritually-of taking a Sabbath. In our culture, people here the word Sabbath and immediately think of Sunday. Sunday is the preferred day of rest for thousands of people in this country. As I was reading, two thoughts came to my mind. 1st) What about those people involved in ministry...when is their Sabbath? 2nd) what does it mean to me to take Sabbath?
As I pondered these thoughts, I knew there was some restructuring that needed to happen in my life. For me, a Sabbath means to take a complete departure from the other days of the week. It is requiring me to find a day, that I can shut out the things from the office and take a moment and focus on my family and focus on me. When I first thought about it, I started to feel guilty about finding time for myself...especially when there was so much to be done. But I thought about a statement made by Lea Collins:

"Do we really think we can worship, serve, and live in the fullness and excellence God desires if we don't learn the discipline of rest? "

How many of us get over committed with family responsibilities, work, and even ministry commitments? It is no wonder people get burnout and change jobs so frequently. For me, I realized how much I love doing what I do. If I can't imagine myself doing anything else, then maybe I should spend a little more time stopping and listening to what He has to say!
So I have made Fridays my Sabbath! Since Sundays are spent in preparation for the Lord's day, and Friday's are my day off, it only made sense that Friday is my day of rest.I know it may sound redundant and elementary in thought, but I guess I need to say it out loud, so that I don't try to find ways to let the things of work creep in and stop me from finding my place of reflection and my source of renewal!

"We are called to worship God with the very best we have. When we run out of out best and do not have that to give, our call is to worship God with our rest."

Ask yourself, "When was the last time you had a Sabbath day?"


Monday, October 19, 2009

Look what we are in for...a Pink Extravaganza!

As many of you know, we did find out that our second child is going to be a girl! It has been a funny adventure at this point. People around here were so excited when we found out we were expecting. Of course everyone kept saying, "We really hope its a girl!" As if we could do something about it! LOL! Of course everyone, like us, wants the child to be healthy and to come at the correct time... unlike her older brother! So the expectations for this little one were already high! Then we got the news...she is in fact a she!!! Keller was right the entire time when he said that it was a "baby sister!"
The next day, I was on the phone with one of my choir members. She told me not to buy anything for the baby! I thought it was strange, so I asked why. She replied, "people really like shopping for baby girls! It is really fun!" In my mind, I could see how that is true, because there are some really wonderful and adorable outfits! The funny thing is that I did not realize how quick her statement would become a reality!
This weekend we had choir rehearsal for our Christmas show. Just as we were getting started, one of our choir members came in with a bag...a really big bag. So as we were getting started, she just kept looking at me! And then she stepped up and began talking about how exciting it is that we are having a little girl. Then she hands Ashley this bag and inside were at least a dozen outfits in different sizes and colors! It was an amazing and beautiful gift! At this same time I was thinking back and smiling about the phone conversation I had earlier in the week!
Of course the shopping did not stop there! We as the parents had to make our contribution to the closet of pink! We spent a some time at a consignment and of course Ashley found herself looking through the little outfits... and we did walk out with quite a bit!
So the kid has had two pretty good shopping sprees...and she is not even here! What does this say about the future? I confess, I am extremely excited that she is coming...and she will probably be a daddy's girl!!! But I promise you will NOT see me on one of those "Toddlers & Tiaras" episodes...Those people are a hot mess!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby Gage is...

So we went 2 the dr. & they said we are having a girl! i can see visions of pink ribbons & afro puffs in my wife's eyes! This is going to be interesting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nazarene Star Struck!

So a couple of entries ago, I talked about Dr. Stan Toler coming to our Minister & Mates Retreat! I remember Dr. Toler from my time at Southern Nazarene University, so I was excited to meet with him again. Plus he is now a General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene. This was big time stuff!
Andy, our youth pastor, was helping me out at the retreat with some tech items for the worship portions of the service(i.e. PowerPoint). At some point during the first night, Dr. Toler was giving his message and the next thing I know, Dr. Toler is giving Andy a fist bump. Now if you are not familiar with a fist bump, please consult your local teenager! LOL! I looked at Andy's face and you would have thought he was 5 years old and it was Christmas morning! I am not sure if he was surprised that Dr. Toler gave him the bump or the fact that Dr. Toler knew about the fist bump.
So here we are two weeks later, still talking about it! Andy keeps talking about how cool it is that he got a fist bump from a General Superintendent!!!
But Andy is not the only one what was Nazarene Star Struck! I myself fell under this spell! Last week I was deciding what to blog about and as I was reading through some of the older post, I noticed that there was a new comment under the "With Mighty Voices..." entry! The comment came from Marvin Jones, Worship Pastor for Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene. My mouth hit the floor when I read the message from him! I had the privilege of meeting Marvin and working with him this summer at General Assembly. I had heard really great things about him and I was so excited to me if I was star struck!
Marvin and his wife Paula are remarkable people! I know the congregation at TCC loves them and I am honored to know them and count them not only as valued colleagues, but as friends!
So this could be the first of many installments of this blog! Tell me, how are you star struck?

Thou O Lord

I have to confess that after writing last week's blog, the week went down hill pretty fast! I found myself becoming very overwhelmed with some of the responsibilities of my life. My mood was not the best, and I am sure I was not very easy to live with...just ask my wife!
In the midst of all of this, my wife decided that we should take a step back and get away from it all. So naturally we did what we Gage's do best...we went shopping! BTW, there are some good sales going on right if you can, don't miss out! And of course I did purchase some items to add to our fall home collection. But I will explain that in another blog.
As we were driving back home, I was listening to some of the music that our worship choir is working on this year! One of my favorite songs that we are singing is "Thou O Lord." It is based off of Psalm 3. When I first heard this song several years ago, I heard it as a great sounding song and not applying much thought into what is was really saying. But as I was driving down this highway, I could feel His word speaking to me. In that moment I realized that one of the hardest things we do as Christians, as people, is trying to rely fully on God. In speaking of myself, I know that I tend to trust my creativity, my talent, my socialization, and my professional abilities, when I know I should be trusting in Him.
Later that night during my quiet time, I decided to go back and read this Psalm. In my bible, the subtitle of the psalm states "A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom." The psalm was written during horrible time in David's life. If you get a chance, read 2 Samuel 15-17, and note all the "drama" that was surrounding his life. After reading these chapters and this psalm, my heart was humbled for several reasons. For starters, the issues that I am facing cannot be compared to anything that David walked through. Treachery, betrayal, mutiny, a wayward son; these are very ugly circumstances. Surely, if God could handle all this, then my issues of weariness, discontent, disappointment are a speck of dust. Mostly, I was humbled as I read how David handled himself during this period of his life. He claims God as his shield, his source of protection (psalm 3:3).
I know I have not received a threat on my life...yet; but I cannot ignore the feeling that sometimes there is a battle raging around me. I have to ask, if you have ever felt the same way? My heart's desire and challenge is that I want handle attacks, insults, and criticism the way David did. I believe that David considered the words against him for what they were worth, analyzed them for any truth and discarded the rest. To do something like that, in the midst of all these challenges, takes an extra measure of wisdom, grace, and peace; which can only come from Him.
The bottom line is that, throughout all that was surrounding David, he fully relied on the God who made him lie down, sleep, and wake again due to His sustaining love for him.
What is the battle surrounding you? What is the circumstance that is so great in your life? Are your relying on your abilities or are you relying on Him?

"Thou O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head."


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Take a Moment Tuesday

So in keeping with my new found gratitude, I decided to create a new campaign. I am calling it "Take a moment" Tuesdays. I was inspired by the twitter topic #ThankfulThurs. The challenge is to encourage people to do someone out of the ordinary every Tuesday! So today I threw it out there on my facebook page...and I was amazed by the response! Here are a couple of responses!

"Bought lunch for the entire office" - Jeff A.
"I gave $5.00 to a homeless man on the street today."- Melissa R.
"I gave someone a ride today who was walking on base in the rain." - Michael M.

It is so exciting to know that people still care about people! What about me you asked? Today I assisted a mother of 3 load her children in car while the fourth child was sick, and I cleaned the coffee pots for the evening AA group meeting.

I love when people give for no reason. Imagine the impression and the seed you are planting in the minds of the people you are taking a moment to help! I look forward to this journey with you!


From Grumble to Gratitude

I wonder if you will agree with me when I make this statement? "There is a lot of complaining in the world?" Some of you may say no while others jokingly may reply " I agree Ryan, and you do a lot of it!" least I hope you are joking!!! (Ha Ha)Anyway, I think a large portion of people would agree that yes there is a lot of complaining, and dare I say, whining, in the world.
This past weekend, Ashley and I attended our district Minister and Mates retreat! We were asked to lead worship, which was a big honor and humbling experience...but I will save that for another blog entry. To be honest, I was excited about this getaway because it was a moment in time that I could stop and rest. For the past few months, I have felt like I had been doing a little to much complaining and whining about life in general. There are several times in my life when I get this feeling, and when I do it is because of two things. The first is that my schedule is becoming really busy, and when I don't get a handle on it from the beginning, I feel like the schedule is controlling me instead of me controlling the schedule. The second thing is that because of the crazy schedule, I feel like I can not spend as much time in the word. I know what you are thinking..."Ryan your schedule should not be an excuse for not reading & doing devotional!" I know this and that is what makes me frustrated; which leads to complaining;which leads to the whining. Do you get where I am headed? Bottom line, I was ready to stop from the normal pace...for only a second.
Dr. Stan Toler was the guest speaker for the retreat! I enjoyed working with him and hearing what he had to say. On the first night, He was talking about Holiness and Attitude! Of course being in the foul spiritual state I was in, I felt like this was what God needed me to hear! Essentially the message based from the scripture found in Romans 12:1-2 which speaks of being "transformed by the renewing of your minds..." In that moment, I realized that I needed to shift my mental focus. I needed to change this attitude of grumbling and judgment and maybe a little fear; and be reminded of the days of God's faithfulness. I needed to have a Thanksgiving mind set...and no I am not talking about turkey! Dr. Toler went through a list of mental changes such as "replacing anger with love, replacing fear with faith, replace bitterness with forgiveness, replace sadness with happiness," and "replace grumble with gratitude."
That same evening as I was finishing some evening reading, I flipped my bible over to Psalm 64. It caught my attention at the opening verse "Hear my voice, O God in my complaint; " Even as I am typing this, I am getting a little grin on my face, for I am reminded of God's Humor and even more important, His timing.
As you continue to read the psalm (and I hope you take a moment and read it), the mood shifts at verse with these words, "But God..." God is big enough to handle our problems, hear our worries, complaints, and even our doubts. However, I think He would really like us to move past all of that and remember to trust in Him. I know this weekend, I was challenged to move past my grumbling and complaining and retune my mind so that I could continue to walk in His will for my life.
We all know that there are bumps in the road and life is never perfect! We all know that we will encounter situations that will test and we may even find ourselves at the losest points of our lives. But I encourage you to hold on! When the pressure of life is on us, we have to continue to praise Him...for we know he is working a plan for our good! The next time you feel tempted to complain- and there will be a next time- remember that God can handle it! Remember that he knows all about your situation and the he want to help. Even more important, He can help you!
He is able!


Monday, September 28, 2009

With Mighty Voice...

Each week I have the honor of working with a special group of ministers! The Venice Church of the Nazarene Choir is a really great group and I am humbled to have shared ministry and music with them for almost 4 years. As a music director/worship leader, I have some high standards for this group! Not just because I know how great they are, but because what they do week after week is not for their personal glory...but for His.

This summer, as I was challenged to begin this blog, I was inspired by my musical family to write the enclosed blog. Though this writing is not directly about them, it does capture the spirit of who they are as a ministry and their importance not just in the life of our local church, but to me. Recently, I was sitting in a small group at a conference when the subject came up that the church choir was dead. Those that know me know that I was caught off guard by this statement…especially because of my personal fondest to that group of servants. I begin to listen as people stated there personal reasons for approaching this topic. People used words like ancient, old, out of touch, not relevant, to describe this ministry that some churches treasure! Finally one person concluded that it was his belief that it is not worth the time or energy to train a choir to worship.
I was struck by many statements this person had made. I was saddened because I realized that 1. We, as a church maybe missing a really good ministry opportunity for people with the concept of a choir, and 2. Maybe we are confining worship to a style or art form as oppose to it being a daily act. I must confess that the “choir nerd” within me wanted to scream out at these words. It would be easy to jump back at those comments and critique his musical abilities…but I needed to take an even bigger step back and look to the Word. 1 and 2 Chronicles shows us an image of God’s purpose for musicians in worship (corporately speaking). As we read in the Old Testament, there were 38,000 Levites set aside for service in the temple. Of those Levites, 4,000 were selected to be musicians. I know we use musician as a broad term, but this would include those that sing and therefore they would be considered a choir!
We know that music is a tremendous gift from God. In today’s church we know that worship is expressed through music and song; and that musicians serve an important part of our expression in our corporate worship. When the congregation looks in at the choir loft and sees “Susie”, who is battling cancer, lifting her voice…God moves. When they look in the 3rd row and see “Ben”, who has lost his job, lifting his voice…God moves. When our congregations, who needs to hear from God, looks to our platforms and sees their brothers and sisters lavishing praises to the Lord…despite the personal situations, they are reminded that they are not alone. They are reminded that there is hope and that they have come to the place where his spirit dwells. That atmosphere is created by musicians such as a choir being willing to be used by God. To some that statement may sound arrogant, but you have to put it in the prospective of obedience. They are being obedient to the call to worship with people as well as lead them. The choir and all musicians are responsible for preparing His people to receive him! What a high calling!!!
To say that a choir is out of touch and ancient may be a misuse of words…at least in my choir loving mind! Maybe it is a matter of repurposing this ministry so that it can continue to be used by the Spirit to ignite a person’s heart to experience His presence.
As time passes, we understand that there will always be issues of conflict over worship styles and formats. I am sure that in 20 years there will be a new issue that involves some new form of worship music…and the cycle will continue. Worship music is here to stay. There may be different forms of it, but there will always be a song or musical way for us to worship the Lord. But we must be challenged to take that word worship and apply to the other days of the week beyond Sunday. Worshipping God daily will look different to every person. We have to remember that if we want to experience God in our worship, both corporately and privately, it is going to take sacrifice. Are we ready to look beyond the sheet music of praise and offer Him our all? Are we ready to turn down the noise of the world in exchange for the unique melody of his voice as he shapes and orders our steps? If we say yes together, with mighty voices, the unison sound of the redeemed will vanquish our sorrows, and grief’s. So let us sing along and sing loud as we proclaim His goodness!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ode to my wife!

So I wanted to take a moment and pay tribute to my amazing wife! I know I do not tell her enough, but she is truly an amazing woman, wife, mother, and follower of the Lord. I am honored to know her and humbled that she has chosen me for life! We went to another Dr. visit today to check on the progress of the baby!(things are going well, we find out boy or girl next month) As the doctor was talking and listening to the heartbeat, I found myself in awe of her. She was so excited to hear the beating heart...I was too! She later confessed how much she enjoys going to these visits just to hear the baby and know that things are well! Ashley is a caring person and anyone that knows her can testify to it!

I was recently at a wedding in Michigan and as I was going from the hotel to the rehearsal, I was looking at all the sites of the city...or lack thereof. As we were getting close to the church, I noticed one of those oversized marquee signs that said That was the only thing it said. There were no pictures and no catchy ad phrase to attract the drivers; just this web address. Later that night, after the rehearsal and stuff, as I was headed back to the hotel room I saw the same sign! My heart started breaking! I found myself feeling such sadness for people who would find themselves in a position to consider going to a site such as this for help. What situation could be so bad that you need this way out! Please don't miss read this. I understand that there are some abuse situation which are sickening; but when I stop and take stock of so many of my friends who are leaving their spouses or breaking their vows it has tended to be for petty reasons! I have to believe that your marriage must be something you on and it is something you just might have to fight for! On top of that, I was thinking back to my own childhood and being a child of divorce. Who would want to wish that on any child? I remembered back to a time when I was younger, I was praying that the Lord would not allow me to go through the pain that my parents were going through. I remember praying at that young age of 10 that I would not let my children hurt or go through something like this. Fast forward to today and I realize that I have a lot to praise Him for in my life! But I was also reminded that He was with me, hearing my prayers at a time when I felt so alone.

So I type before you today as a grateful man! I thank God for sending Ashley to me and blessing us with our son and our second child! If I could send out a challenge to all would be to take a moment and love you wives! Let them know they are special and that they matter! Let them know that what they do is important to your family unit! Also, pray for you wives, that God would continue to use them, and bless them wherever they go! Don't be afraid to take a stand for the covenant you have made with your wife! In choosing to be men of intergrity, we are choosing to honor these women with the utmost of respect and committing to place your marriage in the hands of the one who brought you together!

Spread Love!!!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Potty Training Ain't for Sissies!

So as many of you know, our son Keller has been potty training. For some in the parenting world, you may think that we are running behind schedule...but you are entitled to you opinion. Anyway, the point is, we have spent the majority of the summer in this process. But let me stop right there and say this; when I type the word we, I should really state that it was my amazing wife that had to do the majority of the work since I had to work. I LOVE YOU BABE! Back to the story...we have made a lot of progress, and for that we are extremely proud of our son. At the same time, we are not out of the woods. At this point in the game, we know that he can do is just a matter of him taking time out of his busy schedule to go to the bathroom.
So this weekend, we decided to go to our favorite Mexican food restaurant...which as the best queso dip ever! Mind you, we are always on alert when we are out in public with Keller, because potty accidents can still happen and do happen. Once we got settled into our booth, I had another "What are you known for?" moment with our server/waitress. Before I could order my drink, she said,"You want Sweet Tea! I remember you! You drink a lot of Sweet Tea!" I guess I could have been remembered for worse...Oh wait, read the previous blog!!!!!! HA
Anyway, she leaves and I decided to take Keller to the bathroom. Of course you have to be creative to get him to the conversation went something like this:

Me: Keller, do you need to go potty?
Keller: No Daddy, I don't need to go potty!
Me: I think you do. But you know what? Daddy needs to go potty! Do you want to help him?
Keller: Oh sure! I can help!!!

So we get up and head to the bathroom. As we are walking, this mighty 3 year old voice states: "Hey everyone, I will be right back. I have to help my dad go potty!" Of course, I stopped in my tracks and looked at him as he was making this statement to anyone that would hear...which included two couples and a large group of 10. The people were very supportive of his new venture and cheered him along the way! It is moments like these that I cherish!

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Oh...You're that Guy"

Those that know me well, know that I do not like to go to the doctor. It always seems like I am having to have a test done on this or a head scan on that and so on. Recently(last week), Ashley urged me to go to the doctor for the discomfort in my throat. To be honest, it was something that was troubling me since singing is what I do...I guess I was just scared of that the doctor would say. Anyway, I went to see him and I describe to him the symptoms. He then tells me "Singers can put a lot of stress on their voice." (Okay!?!) Then he asked me if I can breath good. I told him I was breathing fine. He said that my sinus were pretty blocked and my ears were a little red. So he gave me a nasal spray and some other medication. Will this help my voice? I am not sure...he told me to try it for a week and if there is no change then he would send me to a ear, nose, and throat specialist.
So as I thought I was finished with the appointment, he looks at my chart and tells me that I need to get some blood work done! WHAT! I just looked at him thinking..."that is not why I came in." He said that it has been a while and it is something I really need to do. And of course I hate needles. But here is the reason I am telling you all of this.
A year ago, I had salmonella poisoning! While I was sick, the doctor sent me to the lab to take give them some samples....yes, those samples. This was one of the most embrassing experiences of my life...and the worst part was, that they-the lab-lost the sample and I had to go back and do it all again. It was not a pretty sight. Now fast forward to today and you will find me with my doctors note back in that same lab! Have you ever walked into a room and all the people stop what they are doing and look at you as if your zipper is undone? Well that was what I felt like...and no my zipper was not down!
The lab tech calls me back into the room and ask me to sit in the chair. As we were walking, she keep looking back at me as if she knew me. Of course I knew who she was (the one that lost the sample), but I did not want to reveal that information. As she is entering the information into the computer, she would occasionally look up at if she recogonized who I was. Finally she stopped typing and asked "Do I know you from somewhere?" I smiled and said, "Well, I have been to this lab a couple of times. I believe your file will tell you." She smiled and nodded her head and went back to typing.
Suddenly, her fingers froze dead on the keyboard. It was as if she read something that she should not have read. She looked at me, then the computer, then to me again. I asked her, "Is everything alright?" To which she replied, " Ohhhh, You're that guy!!" Now I must confess that, there was a small part of me that was hoping she recognized me from one of my performance around town...but I knew the sad reality. She went on to say, "You're the salmonella guy!" WOW! What a way to be remembered? I told her that she was correct in her identification. She then went on to apologize for the whole ordeal that happened with my "sample." She, herself, seemed to be a little embrassed. It was in that moment, that there were so many wise crack comments I could have made, but I needed to just end the entire conversation(much like this blog). I told her it was no problem(actually it was) and that I understand that these things happen(but I don't because they are a lab and they are suppose to take special care of this stuff right?), and we finished the rest of the blood work!
As I was leaving, I thanked her and she again apologized for what had happened. But who would have thought that out of all the things I would like to be remembered by...that one that sticks out to her is "Salmonella Guy!"


Monday, August 24, 2009

What are you known for?

The question that has been on my mind the past few days is What are you known for? The past couple of weeks have been interesting. Full of life's sorrows and joys... I have participated in two funerals...and one more this coming weekend, my wife and I went to have a sonogram of the new baby and heard the miraculous sound of our baby's heart beat...then there is just daily living with ministry, family, and what not.
This past Saturday a member of our church choir went home to be with the Lord. Otis Johnson was an amazing man. I had an immediate respect for he and his wife, Nina, who have been married for more than 52 years. We(my wife and I) were just getting to know him, before he was diagnosed with cancer. Despite how he was feeling, we would always ask about our son Keller. He was truly excited about other people's accomplishments no matter how big or small; and he was so sincere.
After his passing, the family asked me to create a memorial program for the service. While putting the information together and eventually attending the service; you began to put into perspective this life that was lived for family, friends, and above all, the Lord. As I sat there in the service, the out pouring of love for Mr. Johnson was amazing. The amazing thing was that the common denominator from every speaker was how Mr. Johnson lived his faith! His life and his faith were one...not separate.
Which brings me to this question: what are you known for? I think we all have an idea at what we are known for; the funny guy, the singer, the director, etc. Is there a difference between what you are known for and what you want to be known for? For me, I know there are obvious things like being a musician, parent, the funny man (can be open for interpretation). But one thing I want to be known for is being a worshiper! I want to be able to decrease, so that He will increase. I have to remind myself to put on my garment of praise whenever there is a heaviness in my world. By praising the Lord, we are turning our attention to him and away from us. I read in my devotions the other day that "praise reminds us of who we are, and better yet, who God is."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The joys of technology!

Testing...I just wanted to see if the settings are correct to blog from my cell phone! This is exciting!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Things that make you say Hmmmm....

So this blog may not be inspiring, but it is a good story to share! I was thinking this afternoon about how much I enjoy living in Florida! Venice is especially nice! It is not as busy as the big cities...but it is not a complete sleepy town. I am sure that some people will disagree with me on that...but I love it! Anyway, I was walking home from the office (one of the perks of living next door to your job), and I see this SUV in the open field next to our house! Next to it was this lady looking in the other direction. It appeared that she was looking into the retention pond that sits behind the local Publix Store. I am not sure why anyone would be near the nasty just don't know what could be floating in there!!!!
As I continued walking, I heard the lady say "Ready! Set! Gooooo!!" To my surprise, I see the SUV punch the gas and head my direction. I stopped to see which way he was going and noticed that there was a rope attached to his bumper. My eyes quickly track the rope all the way to the pond...where I see his friend riding a body board! Yes folks, He was skiing in a retention pond!
Now at this point, there were several thoughts going through my mind...and some of those thoughts will have to stay in my mind (cue my wicked laugh)! However, the one thought that came to mind was that this could be so much better at the beach! After all, our location is exactly 3 minutes from the big body of water we call the Gulf of Mexico! The other thought was that I hope he does not catch a really bad fungus after being in that water...let alone the millions of mosquitoes that are hanging around there!
And did I mention that this pond is located between Publix and a Retirement center.
This display of silliness must have been their last ditch effort to have some summer fun...since school starts next week. Don't get me wrong, I am all about living up the days of summer...but I think there are better, and healthier ways to do it.
Although it does inspire me to get a body board or surf board! Just don't tell my wife! She just watched Shark week on the Discovery Channel!!!!


Friday, August 14, 2009

My First Blog

I cannot believe I am doing this! I never really thought of myself as a person of influence (and maybe that is all just in my head.) But I was encourage by comments from my friends when I told them that I was thinking about starting a blog! Clearly the status box on facebook is not large enough for me to put down everything I want! But what exactly does it mean to have a blog? This tool, this blogging, means different things to so many people. For some, it is a journal; while for others, it is something fun to pass the time. Some people want to inspire while others want to share a laugh! For me, I think it is a little of all that...and more. I was at a conference recently and a gentleman asked me if I had ever thought about writing something (like a blog, or song). I remember laughing loudly and telling him that it was not what I was called to do! Then he ask, "How do you know?" For some reason I could not answer him. Then, his next statement hit me. "We all get so involved and busy with our lives that we tell ourselves that we can't write songs, or in journals. If we would just stop long enough to listen to God...maybe we would stop saying I can't and actually put pen to paper." And with that statement (though it may not be is real close), I enter the world of blogging. I feel so blessed to be able to share these moments and insights. And likewise, I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts!

Singing His Praises!