I'm a Worship Pastor and Communications Director at Grace Church in Overland Park, KS. I also co-host the All About Worship Podcast found at www.AllAboutWorship.com
This blog is a compilation of life lessons involving ministry, life, family and pretty much anything I feel like sharing.
Life's best lessons are learned from the trials and errors of yourself...and those around you. Hope you can learn from mine!
It was 2003...job loss...doubts about the future...a pregnant wife...a three year old little girl...and nothing but a desire to be a true leader of worship vs. a performer of songs. Here's a tune that the Lord gave me during that time. A simple prayer offering all that I was so I could become all God planned for me. Enjoy!
Recently my oldest daughter auditioned for the Olathe, KS Youth Symphony. She did amazingly well and we are all anxious to find out if she made the team, but really in my mind she already passed the test. The story isn't about making the symphony, but her accomplishment of overcoming fear.
Maelee wasn't interested in being a part of the audition process. In fact, she expressed zero desire to be a part of the symphony at all. Not because she really doubted her skill, but because she didn't feel like going through the process. What it boiled down to was simple: Fear of rejection.
During the car ride to the audition, I asked her if she was nervous. Her response was, "yeah...a little". I prayed with her as we drove to the audition and she seemed to be a little less anxious. We arrived at the audition 40 minutes early, plenty of time for her to play through the song and scales before her appointment. Initially, it was us and two other students in a large orchestra room warming up. She played her violin over and over while more students began piling into the room with cellos, clarinets, bassoons and other violinists. I watched as she realized she wasn't the only violinist auditioning. Then it hit her...she pulled her violin from her chin and walked over to me with panic in her eyes...she whispered, "Dad, these kids are better than me." It was what I was waiting for during this whole ordeal. The moment she was faced with the possibility of rejection.
There were a couple of options I could take at this moment.
Baby her. I could lie to her and tell her, "Oh honey...these kids aren't as good as you". While I'm a dad and want to deep down believe that, the truth is, some of the students auditioning were on child prodigy level playing. They were all pretty darn good. If I lied to her and said "they're no better than you are"...she would think I was foolish and would possibly never believe anything I tell her again in these scenarios.
Teach her. I was looking forward to finding the teachable moment for my daugher in this process. I was handed a softball and decided to give her a lesson on trusting God, living out Proverbs 3:5-6, acknowledging the Lord in these moments and simply being ok with a possible rejection knowing that her dad and her God were already proud of her for having the courage to accept the challenge to try. My words to her were, "Maelee, if you don't make it, what's the worst that can happen? You get told no and you learn how to become a better player."
Parents, it's ok to allow your kids to get their feelings hurt when they are rejected. It's ok to push them to try things that stir up fear within them. What's not ok is how we sometimes let what WE want best for them to get in the way of what is TRULY best for them. Our kids don't need to be lied to, but rather taught through these opportunities. The first two weeks of American Idol are filled with people auditioning for the show who never had an honest parent or friend tell them the truth.
What I discovered this past week was how rewarding it is as a parent to see my kids attempting to soar. I couldn't be prouder of my Maelee!
Now go conquer your fears and let the Lord direct your path!
I'm sitting in a St. Louis hospital while my Dad undergoes the knife to eliminate a LONG time literal pain in the back. I've always loved how my Dad has handled stress. Let's be honest, when you've seen and done the things he's experienced in his life, a little spine surgery is nothing. He's got enough spine to share with the whole world. Not sure what I'm referring to? Check out his book "Once an Arafat Man".
I captured this little video of my pops while he waited for the nurse to take him to prep for surgery. He loves listening to his music on his iPad. Specifically he loves his worship music, his arabic tunes...and of course his Muddy Waters. Enjoy:
This week we celebrated the birthdays of my two youngest girls. I can't believe it's been a year since this post...and I can't believe it's been 8 years since Carys was born. In my early days in fatherhood I always heard "enjoy your kids while they're young...you'll blink and one day they'll be adults." I'm so proud to be their daddy and humbled that God allowed me to be their Father. Praying I can instill the qualities of a good Dad that will ultimately lead both of my baby girls to a relationship with THE Father.
In honor of their birthdays this week...a trip down memory lane circa 2007. Enjoy this video their mommy took:
Add this little post to the many other "top ten's of 2009" that I'm sure you'll read all over the internet today. While the others may be more intriguing or more contemplative, the difference here is that you get to find out what MY 10 memorable things of '09 were....and you wouldn't be here on this little blog if you didn't care. So here are ten things that impacted me in 2009...in NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
My oldest turned 10. Seriously. I am now the father of a 10 year old. This happened in the last month of '09, and while ten years ago I knew this day would come, it surprised me. Sporty is becoming a young woman right before my eyes. Praying daily for the Lord to help me be a good father to a pre-teen girl in 2010. Please pray for me...I am a father of 3 girls. That's a lot of estrogen.
All About Worship Podcast. I'm grateful to my good friend Wisdom for reaching out to me and allowing me to be a part of this special little nugget on the internet. Through this little podcast reaching approximately 6,000 or so listeners, I've been privileged to speak with some of my Worship Leading heroes (notice I didn't say "idols"...cuz that'd be like sooo not All About Worship). Christy Nockels, Tim Hughes, Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown, Bethany Dillon...the list goes on. Seriously...how cool is that!?!? Looking forward to what's coming in 2010 and feel very blessed to be a small part of it. Thanks Wisdom!
19 years of Addie. My wife and I met in High School November
23rd, 1990. My cousin had amazing insight and created what was called
"Operation Add-Ben" where an event was scheduled so some of their
common friends would meet with us and go hang out...all so Addie and I
could say hi to each other. I was 16 and she had just turned 17. I've
been with her in my life longer than I lived here on earth without her.
Wow. We're still in many ways those same awkward kids with the bowl
haircut and crazy permed hair. It's amazing to think how much we've
been through together. Here's to the 20th year of Addie in 2010! Love
National Worship Leader Conference. I'd never traveled to a worship leader conference in my 10 years or so of being involved in worship ministry. I've wanted to, but the cost has always kept me from making that commitment. So when I saw the folks a Worship Leader Magazine were bringing it right down the street from Grace Church, I was pumped. Best part was meeting many of my online worship leading friends and building some great friendships. And to have Rich Kirkpatrick sitting in my living room surfing the web was pretty awesome. And the fond memory of eating dinner on the Plaza double dating with Mr & Mrs Fred McKinnon. It's back in 2010!
Grace Worship Team. This year has been HUGE for our worship team. It started with a prayer I made back in January 2009 as the new year was just under way. I remember being on vacation and asking the Lord to grow the worship team at Grace both numerically and spiritually. Having experienced prayer like this personally, I knew this could very well lead to some challenges. But I also knew on the other side of fires comes refining. We studied the book "Pure Praise" together as a team...and wow. I was blown away at how much our team has grasped the concept of each of us being more than worship musicians...but worship ministers. I love the worship team at Grace...and am SO excited to see how God continues to mold us in 2010.
Trip to Israel. This August visit to the Middle East far exceeded my expectations. I'm not a big travel kind of guy. My ideal vacation is a week in my recliner with a laptop and a stack of DVD's. Sr. Pastor Tim Howey and I trekked over to visit the ministry my parents lead in Jericho, West Bank. We were able to see first hand the amazing outreach they are doing through a community center and kindergarten. During our visit, we checked out all the sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Sea of Galilee and even up north to the Golan Heights. (check out the video highlights here)Truly an amazing trip that completely transforms your personal scripture reading. Every image in my mind that I had reading the gospels has completely changed. Look for a possible Grace trip over the coming couple of years.
Vacation. Yeah I know...I said I like to sit in my recliner. However, this year we met my parents and went on a great vacation together in Branson, MO...home of Dino. My kids would say the best part of the entire trip was spending hours at the go-kart rides. I have to admit it was quite fun as you can see from this video. Hearing my youngest shout to her older sister who wasn't quite sure about riding "It's not even bad Carys! It's good, it's good!"
Star Wars in Concert. When this was announced in July, I couldn't believe it wasn't scheduled to come to Kansas City. I mean really...don't they know I'm here?!? Fortunately someone let Lucas and crew know about this 35 year old kid that lives in the Midwest who's been a devoted fan of this little film franchise since the age of 3. I took the oldest to see it and we were dumbfounded. Check out my video of the opening song here (who knows how long it'll be allowed to stay there). Not only was there a live symphony and choir performing the music, but there were movie props and costumes.
Easter at Grace. In April we had the biggest attendance in the history of our church. It was a crazy wild weekend with worship team members dealing with family members being in hospitals. Typically when things like that happen, we brace ourselves for something amazing that will take place. We held a special Saturday night service in addition to our typical 3 on Sundays. We had a little over 1,500 people attend and saw many people receive Christ that weekend. Wow. I won't forget that songlist "Happy Day", "Salvation is Here", "Revelation Song", "I Will Rise" and "True Love". Amazing weekend thanks to so many volunteers within the Grace body. Awesomeness.
Spritual Growth. This was a wonderful year for me in so many ways. One of my fondest memories of 2009 will be the unique walk with Christ I had with some special teaching sessions about myself, my family, my leadership and my relationship with Him. I'm extremely grateful for the chance to be challenged by the Lord about my calling. Do I really love what I do? Is it worth the fight? Is all this "ministry stuff" really worth it? Of course the answer is yes. No matter what the enemy may whisper in my ear, I know I'm called for this purpose, "to lead others into a meaningful, worshipful relationship with their creator through Jesus Christ".
Praising God for a wonderful 2009 and I'm looking forward to what's to come. I saw a recent Tweet from someone asking if we could put into one word what we feel the next year would bring, what would that word be? I'm thinking my word would be REVOLUTION.