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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

sabbatical fruit - week 12 - re-entry

Well, I didn't get to post any song clips yet, but I did finish the recording by midnight on Sunday night! I have some friends reviewing the rough mixes, like I do with the book, and hope to have both book and CD proofed, edited, and ready for publication and distribution by September.

I've also called an old youth group friend from Lenoir, who plays in a bluegrass-funk band, and she is going to add some fiddle/violin on a couple of tracks. I'm looking forward to seeing her after many years and getting a little more "help from my friends."

I started back at Good Shepherd on Monday the 27th, and have my hands full catching up after twelve weeks away. I spent Monday catching up with the ministry staff, reading e-mail and mail, and prioritizing to do's for the next few weeks. Today (Tuesday), I rejoined the men's morning prayer group and enjoyed seeing those guys again.

While this is the last "sabbatical fruit" report, I imagine the fruit of the sabbatical will be the subject of sermons and postings for some time to come. I feel like I learned a number of valuable lessons and know those will salt my ministry for some time.

I do hope to get some of the worship songs up over the next few weeks, and plan to make the CD available on iTunes when it is ready.

Thank you to Good Shepherd and the many folks who stepped up to cover for me while I was gone. I know of no other church that can cover 12 weeks of preaching internally (we did have some pastor friends come preach on communion Sundays). I am excited to be back in the midst of this dear congregation that is my church family and home!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

sabbatical fruit - week 11 - with a little help from my friends

We started the week worshiping at Matthews Presbyterian Church, where we have several friends. We've been enjoying visiting different churches every week. Well, Heather and I have... the kids have been missing Good Shepherd... well, they did really like the church a few weeks ago that had the service on TV and juice and pastries to eat while we watched.

Monday night the whole family went to the Lodge bar/restaurant on Colony/Rea to eat dinner and hear Jim Terrell provide live entertainment. Jim stepped in to lead the music at VBS and our kids were all really excited to see him. Elizabeth was especially excited that he played harmonica on some songs! Jim has a beautiful voice and had a great playlist that included some great Eagles songs. I (and others) were singing along! I think he plays most Monday nights, starting at 7pm, so go check it out! (I'm pretty sure we also spotted Ric Flair... brought back childhood Sat. morning TV memories.)

The rest of the week I've been hard at the recording... up most nights until 3am trying to get all the CD tracks ready for the background vocals. And that leads to the title of the post... a number of friends are helping me out on this. Mike Slade came over last night (Fri) for 3 1/2 hours to sing on a bunch of the songs. Katie Meeks is coming over tonight, and John Kaneklides on Sunday night. I know each of them will add so much, and I appreciate their friendship and help on this project so much!

Hopefully, my week 12 post will have a few early snippets of songs (though I want to spend most of my remaining time mixing rather than posting). I'm out most of Tuesday to moderate the summer presbytery meeting... so really I only have a few days (and recall that mixing can take as long as recording!). But, I think I can get close.... at least a lot closer than I thought I would five weeks ago!

I'm also beginning to have church planning pressing in at the edges.... so much to do the first week back: August newsletter, sermon planning, Bonclarken planning, officer training, Wed. night planning, confirmation communication and planning, etc... (This is me writing it down here to see if I can keep it at bay for 8 more days!) Now I don't have to remember - I've written it down. :)

I continue to hope to hear from Good Shepherd folks about their "sabbatical assignment" - I've heard from 6-8 people or families... hope to hear from the rest!

'Til next week...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

sabbatical fruit - week 10 - final push



Looking back...

My family and I returned on Tuesday afternoon from Montreat and the "Christian Life Conference." The teaching and fellowship were wonderful and the Good Shepherd worship team received much encouragement for the worship music. Here are some pictures of us in action...



And Cathy leading a conference hymn on the organ.
I particularly like
the photo (all
by Paul Detterman)...
the way Cathy's
head is inclined
toward the cross
on the front wall. :)









Pressing on...


10 weeks down... where did it all go? And the next two weeks are punctuated by a trip to Greensboro and presbytery responsibilities. Only a handful of "sabbatical days" left.

"Final push" may sound like the opposite of restful, renewing, ect... but part of the joy of this time has been seeing some long-awaited projects moving toward completion. I realize that I may not completely finish these by the end of the sabbatical, but I think I'll get close... at least close enough to finish in Aug/Sept.

So, I've been recording into the wee hours. The only thing is that of all the instruments I play, I have the least control over my voice. And honestly, it's a $200 guitar as voices go. I know what I want to sing, how I want to sing, and I can get the notes... but there's only so much I can do past that. But, this isn't really about commercial viability or vocal awesomeness as getting my creative juices flowing and sharing some music with others. So, I'm pleased with how it's coming together. The CD will definitely have some variety on it... I'll leave it at that for now. :)

So if you are praying for me, pray for good use of time, good vocal chops, and the logistics of getting some friends in for background vocals. Thanks!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

sabbatical fruit - week 9 - retreating... in a good way

Wow - 9 weeks of 12 have flown by!

This past week was good in every way. I progressed significantly on the music recordings, adding electric guitar to a number of songs. I also got the proof of the new study book, The Breadth of Worship, out to several people to edit and review for me. And I got out on the bike several times - three different outings of 5-15 miles, which felt GREAT.

I had also decided, for personal reasons, not to pursue the novel I started in the Spring. But, encouragement from my daughter (for whom I was writing it) have convinced me to try to finish. It won't happen by the end of sabbatical, but I am excited about it again. I let her read the first three chapters (all I've written) and she really wants to hear how the story turns out. So, hopefully, we'll have The Gift in time for Christmas!

I'm finishing this week at Montreat at the Presbyterians for Renewal "Christian Life Conference." Three other members of the Good Shepherd worship team are with me and we are deeply enjoying leading music for the 500+ person conference. I am particularly enjoying Dr. Kenneth Bailey, who is the morning Bible teacher. He spent his life and career teaching Biblical studies in the Middle East and his direct knowledge of that culture opens up so many facets of the Biblical text. The conference runs through Tuesday, so I'll have a half-week on my return to get back to recording.

I can sense the... what shall I call them... opportunities :) of the Fall awaiting me. I am excited to share with the congregation what I have been doing and learning. Through these sabbatical experiences I also believe God is preparing me for the coming months and years of ministry. I look forward to seeing that unfold. I'm resisting the temptation to get into planning for the Fall (or even August), knowing what a flood of work will be waiting. But I'm not dreading it; rather, I'm excited to jump back into life and ministry post-sabbatical. Hopefully, that is the sign of a healthy sabbatical!

I imagine the last three weeks will pass in a rush. There is still much I'd like to accomplish, but I've also come to peace with letting things progress at the pace they need. So, some of these projects may extend into the Fall and beyond. That is fine and good. Spending all this time on projects I love has strengthened my call to ministry - I don't wish I were doing this full-time, but am still convinced deeply of my call to ministry. And yet, I also see the great value of building time for these pursuits into my personal life. Music and writing (and exercise) are so life-giving and renewing, and I need that to continue to be at my best.

I'm writing all that down so I won't forget. Ha! (and if I do, just refer me to this post!)

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