Stepping up

I haven’t updated the blog in a long time – not since way back on January 8. It is now the middle of March, and I think I can officially say I’m in my travel season. Last week, I was in Lexington, KY, Hopkinsville, KY, and Nashville, TN; and this week, I’m making what has become my annual trek to Austin for South by Southwest (or “South by” for those in the know).1 I have what seems like an endless amount of Stuff to Accomplish before heading to the airport tomorrow night, which fully explains why I’m choosing RIGHT NOW to blog.2 

In the I-really-did-finish-my-degree news, I received the actual degree in the mail. I’ve signed many an email as “Dr.” or the preferred “, PhD” after my name, not to mention I’ve judged a few pre-college piano events, and have had many opportunities to practice the official signature.

But for the past month of Sundays, I have really, really, really wanted to post a post-Sunday post. Why, you ask? Well, because the week when a bird was flying around inside the building during services seemed like a pretty good story. Or the week the lights went out in the middle of a service. And then there was the week that I had a stereotypically crazy morning, and stumbled up the stairs, kicked the wall, and made loud noises during the sermon. But really, it was the week that our drummer nearly fainted on stage, walked off the stage at the exact moment the timer read 0:00 in the second service, and the band did a whole set without drums… that was the one that I thought belonged on the blog.3 

But then there was the third service hour that day. Drummer was still unable to play by the beginning of this service. We have only one room for this service, so OBVIOUSLY Sanctuary Worship Leader asked Worship Pastor (um, right before the service began) if he could play the drums. And of course, Worship Pastor posed the question to the third-service attendees from the stage as the service was starting, and the attendees were enthusiastically all for it. Thus, Sanctuary Worship Leader sat down and played the drums for the set in that service. Though I’ll admit I was a lot a bit nervous for him (and the rest of the band, for that matter), he stepped up and did a fantastic job.

It all worked out and certainly made for a very memorable Sunday, but I’d prefer to keep everyone healthy on stage going forward.


1. I have written about my first trip here and here. Unfortunately, last year, I was a complete slacker too busy writing the dissertation to do a full-blown post-South by post. Maybe this year…

2. Not that I need any excuse to procrastinate, but I have written most of this post whilst waiting for items to upload, update, etc. My computer likes to be nice and slow in its relative old age (aka 2009). One day, when I have a bunch of free time, I plan to do something about that. One day.

3. Eh… after I stopped panicking, and yelling at no one in particular over the headset about what was going on. I *did* go check on Drummer. He wasn’t dying, but he definitely wasn’t great.

Guitar Slide Sunday and Other Things

Let’s agree that my absence here at the blog has to do with the massive amounts of work I’ve been doing on my dissertation. Whether that is true or not happens to be another story, but for now, let’s just agree on the “working on dissertation” premise.

Sunday, we did this song again, and the bass slides made me happy, as always, and our lead guitar player played WITH a slide on “How He Loves,” which was awesome. Also, Worship Pastor sang some oh’s (and/or whoa’s) in one of my favorite songs that we do (this link is to a “remixed” version of the song; the oh’s/whoa’s begin at 2:04).1 This was exciting as I’m quite a fan of nonsense syllables used judiciously in songs.

On Saturday night, I saw a solo Father John Misty (aka J. Tillman) show. He also is a fan of oh's, ooo's, and whoa's based upon his songwriting.

On Saturday night, I saw a solo Father John Misty (aka J. Tillman) show. He also is a fan of oh’s, ooo’s, and whoa’s based upon his songwriting.

In other news, I found a great excuse to buy new shoes. I have the privilege of representing my alma mater at the investiture of UGA’s 22nd president in a couple of weeks, so obviously I need new shoes to go with my regalia. Conveniently enough, an Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse opened nearby and had their grand opening this past weekend. I went, found some shoes that will suffice (I’m still looking for a better option), and signed up for a few drawings. As it turns out, I’M A WINNER. I received an email saying someone from a closet/organizing place would be in touch with me about a shoe closet makeover. I have no idea what this entails or how it will work, but for now, I’M A WINNER.2

Finally, college basketball is back, and the newest version of the Kentucky Wildcats looks to be special. Also, Georgia-Florida is upon us. Go Sports! I hope we win.


1. Also, I have a “no reading internet comments” policy in my life that I try very hard to follow, and I’m guessing you should too when it comes to that video, well, because the internet, and also because of this.
2. Can we also acknowledge the fact, that despite the comments thing mentioned in note 1 above, the internet is also a fount of knowledge: it showed me how to add footnotes to my posts! Hooray internet!

On the fly…


My typical view on Sundays

Things have been a little more laid back this summer at the church. This mostly has to do with our schedule (three services instead of four, rehearsals only on Sunday mornings, etc.) and our team’s availability (or lack thereof: vacations, mission trips, camps, etc.). Our fall schedule kicks in three weeks from yesterday, and I know there are a few things that need some detailed attention.

However, even with detailed attention, stuff happens; things don’t go quite as planned; or things don’t turn out exactly as you envisioned, regardless of planning. I’d say this is especially true at church, and even more true in a church environment with live syncing and video. For example, yesterday morning, we ended up being short one worship leader. I called one of our team members at 8 a.m. asking her to come sing (I’ve mentioned the implications of a phone call from me on a Sunday morning)… and she kindly obliged, showing up not very many minutes later, and sounded great in both services.

At another point in the service, we had to change our camera shot to show a large group of people gathered at the front of the room. Thanks to some miscommunication, our camera operator was not at the camera at this point, so our Sanctuary Sound Guy had to run over to the camera to make the adjustment. That worked out great, but when Senior Pastor returned to his normal location on stage, his head was no longer in the shot, which cut off exactly at his shoulders. Thankfully, this was during a prayer time, so most people in the room weren’t looking at the screen. Unfortunately, this was during a prayer time, and when I looked at the screen, I laughed out loud.

So there are certainly some things we need to work on, fix, improve, and adjust in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, again, I apologize for disrupting your worship experience if you sit near the booth.

Second verse, not exactly same as the first…

I have grown accustomed to two Sunday morning services, likely due to the fact that I’ve experienced two Sunday services every week for several years now. The second service has served various purposes for me… like the times I find myself working and/or pre-occupied with various things at different times throughout the services, and a second go ’round gives me a chance to catch things I’ve missed (like various points in the sermon). Also, I love hearing our band, and a second service is just that much more of them. But sometimes, I am thankful for the second service because it gives us a chance to fix things that may have gone awry in the first service.

Yesterday, for a small handful of us, this was the case. In live-syncing parts of our services, we often use a timer to keep two separate locations tracking together. I’ve blogged about the starting timer and how important that is, but we often also use a timer during other parts of the service. The most common timer incident is when one room exceeds the timer (which has the possibility of making things in the Other Room a bit awkward waiting for them), but yesterday our room finished up early. Like four minutes early. Like the Other-Room-had-just-started-their-last-song-as-our-room-finished-that-song early.

I’ve mentioned before that thirty seconds might not seem like a long time… unless you’re counting seconds (and Nothing is happening when ideally Something should be happening). So four minutes felt interminable to me… and to the band on stage, not to mention things on the production side were less than smooth. As with many of these situations, it was noticeable for just a small number of folks (hopefully), but thanks to the built-in grace of the Second Service, we got a do-over. And in that service, both rooms ended at appropriate times relative to their timers, and nothing painfully awkward happened! Thanks, Second Service!

My Old Kentucky Home…

I meant to post this on Monday as a post-Sunday post, but Monday was Christmas Eve and I was doing Christmas Eve-y things, like hanging out with friends (“old” friends – ones that I’ve known for as long as I can remember), watching Christmas movies, and going to church. And then, of course, Tuesday was Christmas, which was full of Christmas-y things like family and presents and food and naps. So here it is Wednesday (technically early Thursday) and I remembered that I never posted this. So here it is, a bit late!

Sunday was the fifth Sunday this year that I wasn’t at my church (last year, I missed six!). I always hate being away, but was glad to receive communications that all went well. On the flip side, I’m thrilled to be at home with my family in Kentucky. I attended church with my family, and ended up playing the piano for their services. This is a small church (a very small church compared to the one I regularly attend and blog about), so I walked in a few minutes before the service, met with the song leader, and we picked the songs for the morning service.

You may recall that my Least Favorite Christmas Song is “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and is generally banned not part of our Christmas song rotation at church. Thus, I’ve made it three weeks into December without having to deal with the LFCS. This morning, as we discussed the options for the service (mostly Christmas songs), I was thinking about what to say if The Song came up. Thankfully, it didn’t.

A hymnal! A piano! Oh my!

A hymnal! A piano! Oh my!

However, I played the evening service, too, and the LFCS was suggested. For a brief moment, I considered going along with it. And then I came to my senses. I made some innocuous comment about not feeling comfortable playing the song (technically, that’s true) and suggested another. The song leader acquiesced, and all was well!

I’ve made a new tradition of attending a late night Christmas Eve service at a fancy church in town, and this year was no different. Thankfully, they used “Forest Green” again, so I can officially declare this year “O Little Town of Bethlehem” free.

Merry Christmas (and now Happy Boxing Day), y’all!

Post-Sunday, Post Chicago (again)

I’ve traveled more in the past year than I’ve traveled in my entire life. I don’t think that’s really true, but it feels that way. Also, considering how many times I’ve been on an airplane, I can’t believe that I haven’t qualified for AirTran’s elite status (although, had I *only* flown AirTran this year, I’d be pretty close). In any event, I went to Chicago (yes, again) for a few days last week. The primary reason for the trip was to interview a couple of folks (yes, more interviews to transcribe), and to attend a show. It was a fast trip, but it was great to see folks and catch up with the friends I’ve made in the city. I’m so thankful (yes, again) for Fabulous Chicago Actor and Amazingly Talented Husband for letting me stay with them even though they’re in the midst of a crazy, busy time in their lives.

I have a few particular things that I like to do while I’m in the city, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when something new pops up for me (and it always seems to). This trip, it was the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza. Coming from the airport, I decided to stop off in the loop to eat and maybe shop and/or buy some new shoes, when I stumbled on the market. It was quite lovely, and when I saw the souvenir mug, I had to get one!

I got back in town late Saturday night. It was a really short sleep, and Sunday morning came quite soon. Sunday morning was relatively uneventful, but I did find a moment to reflect on how awesome our team is. We’re having an event at the church in a week or so, and one of the ways we’ve been promoting it is with inserts in our bulletins (this is the paper handout you receive upon entering a church that lists announcements, classes, general goings on, and sometimes even the service order or sermon notes). I don’t know the *exact* number of bulletins we have each week, but I’m guessing it’s at least seven or eight hundred.

I needed to get the inserts into the bulletins before the general population began showing up, so I started asking for help. My first volunteer didn’t really have a choice, as it was the child of our Sanctuary Sound Guy (he did a great job, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t think it was fun). The next group of people I started asking was our worship team who had a slight break during rehearsal. Although these folks had already arrived early that morning, they were more than willing to do this seemingly menial task. I have a feeling some musicians at (larger) churches could easily get the rock star treatment and also exhibit a bit of diva behavior, but I’m incredibly thankful for the great attitudes of our team!

Who Turned Out the Lights?

Technically, it’s still post-Sunday. It’s just a little more post- than usual. The busy-ness of December is beginning to take over, not to mention another (yes, another) fellowship application deadline, plus I’m heading back to Chicago in a day and a half… and well, yeah. So here’s the post-Sunday post that was supposed to show up on Monday!

It’s never a good sign when all of your Christmas lights go out simultaneously. It’s even worse when other lights go out along with your Christmas lights. But it’s just bad news when your electric guitar amp goes out along with your other lights and your Christmas lights. And when this happens in the middle of the music set in your church service, well, the production lady throws her hands up in the air and laughs out loud starts running around checking breakers.

The morning had been busy, but by the time we got started, I felt really good about the service. Well, until about fifteen minutes into the first service, when the Christmas lights and LEDs on stage all went out. Then I noticed that our Asian Apprentice playing lead guitar walked off stage. I knew it was a breaker that had been tripped (we meet in a gym after all…), but I wasn’t sure which one it was. I went and checked the easiest-to-access breaker box, and all was well. The next breakers I thought of were right beside Church Attenders (remember, this was during our song set), but thankfully, these Attenders were friends, so I just scooted around them to check those breakers. And they were fine.

My last option was toward the front of the room. The only catch was I couldn’t remember where on the wall that box was, and our walls are all covered with curtains. I knew it was near a beam, but there were lots of Church Attenders in that area, and I was on a countdown. My options were to go up to that section and start feeling around the wall for the breaker box, or leave it alone and worry about it once our two rooms were synced up.

I opted for the latter. And it all worked out fine. Worship Pastor waited until an opportune moment in the service, and fairly inconspicuously flipped the breaker.

All of these goings on were pretty absurd, but as I was wandering around (in our darker than usual room) checking breakers, I heard Worship Pastor begin to introduce the last song of the set, and he opened with, “Jesus is the light in the darkness…” and I laughed out loud. He’s funny sometimes. Hopefully, we’ll keep the lights on this Sunday.

Magic word

I seem to be the go-to person at my church for some really random things. Part of this can be blamed on Worship Pastor for knowing and doing so many random (and not-so-random) things; but otherwise, I think it has to do with the fact that I’ve been around for a hundred years, not to mention I’m quite centrally located each week.

I have been asked about Bibles in Spanish, the thermostat, lost items (every week), special events, our website, and sign-ups for just about anything, among many, many other topics. I am also (mostly) the person who keeps our iMacs and software up-to-date, which means I am the Guardian of the Wifi Password for the room we’re in every week (a password that has been the same for over a year, maybe even two or more).

On Wednesday of last week, I changed this password. It was time. And SO MANY people (ok, like twelve) asked me for the new password throughout the morning. A couple of them were trying to access streaming video for their Sunday School teaching classes, but the rest of the folks just seemed completely shocked that they couldn’t get online via their mobile devices. When more than one person demanded, “I need the wifi password!” I really wanted to respond, “Well, what’s the magic word?” But I didn’t.

I had been thinking I should change the password regularly, like every month or every other month, and now I think I most certainly will… and keep everyone on their toes. I just need to remember to do it on a week when Tall Sound Guy is around.

Challenge accepted!

If you’ve read a post-Sunday post before, you know there’s always a ton of stuff going on behind the scenes (or right beside you, if you sit next to the booth) during any given service. Sometimes the things are frantic (I’m freaking out and yelling about any number of things); sometimes the things are really funny (like that one time Bass Guitar changed his shirt in the middle of a service); and sometimes the things are random (like all the chit-chat that goes on in the booth). Yesterday’s story fits into the latter two categories.

Youth Pastor was recruited to do the welcome-we’re-glad-you’re-here part of the 9:30 service. Before the service began, he asked me and Tall Sound Guy for a random word; I said “chair” and TSG said “pear” (or maybe he said “pair,” darn homonyms). Youth Pastor said he would incorporate them into his brief talk on stage. And wouldn’t you know it, in his 90 or so seconds on stage, he said both words in a normal, non-I’m-working-to-use-these-two-random-words kind of way!

Now we just need to get College Pastor (who often does this part in the 11 service) on board for this new weekly feature, The Welcome Challenge!


Often, I find it’s easier to do things myself than to (go to the trouble and) ask someone for assistance. Beyond the asking, said person may require explanation, training, or instruction. Further, if one is inclined to be a perfectionist (I might be), and/or have strong opinions about how Things Ought To Be (I sometimes do), then getting others involved also adds the risk of Thing NOT Being Done the Way They Ought To Be (gasp). But sometimes, regardless of these concerns, the workload or time commitment or situation necessarily demands Help.

And that’s where we are on Sundays (and in our ministry area) at the church. Although Worship Pastor has noted that the two of us can certainly get a lot done, it’s become clear that in order for us to improve what we do, we need help. And on my side of things, help arrived yesterday in the booth in the form of an intern apprentice, and I relinquished control of the sound board to Tall Sound Guy.*

He’s tall

This allowed me to give most of my attention to tracking both of our rooms; keeping up with what’s supposed to happen and when; and also (sort of) keeping tabs on the bigger picture and overall quality of what we do. Yet, even with this newfound freedom, we weren’t immune to Things Gone Awry. We had baptisms in both services, and in the second service, we went from the baptism via video from the Sanctuary to a welcome via video by College Pastor from our room. The switch was made smoothly, except when we pulled up the live video of College Pastor, it was only College Pastor from the shoulders down… much like the above picture. Except that photo was taken as a joke, you know, to try to be funny. But it was just awkward when Headless College Pastor was on the screens for a couple of seconds. So yeah, here’s to help and some room for improvement 🙂

*The soundboard is at an optimal height for me. Maybe not so much for Tall Sound Guy.