Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I spent most of my absolutely beautiful Wednesday before Thanksgiving in my office that has no windows working away on many different tasks that I thought needed to get done before the Thanksgiving break.

My day had a most wonderful interruption by a brief trip down the hall to our new Chapel where I found David Hamilton and Michael W. Smith rehearsing Christmas music.

This Monday and Tuesday - November 30 and December 1, Michael will give a Christmas Concert in Dallas with the Dallas Symphony conducted by David Hamilton. They needed a place to go over the program prior to their arrival there in Dallas.

Selfishly, what a nice pre-Thanksgiving treat!

I came home early today, and after Matt, Ben, and Ben's girlfriend, Marissa worked diligently all day in the yard raking and bagging leaves (much to the sighed relief of my neighbors in the cul-de-sac who were beginning to wonder if caveman lived next door!), I decided to mow the front yard.

Isn't that crazy to mow the yard at 5:00pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving?

I am grateful for so much this Thanksgiving.

About this time every year, we have what is called our "year-end reviews" at the office. We complete these forms, sit down with our immediate supervisor and go over the "form" and talk about the year. It is always an interesting and healthy exchange that contributes to the effectiveness of me accomplishing what is expected of me.

I listed the following (23) things on my review for 2009 -

1. Celebrated 30 years of marriage
2. Buried my father
3. Knee Surgery
4. Writing - (2) Different Worship Articles for Brentwood-Benson Choral Music Publication
5. Teaching - (5) different sessions on worship leadership at LifeWay Worship Conference at Ridgcrest
6. Consulting - served as consultant to the President of Anderson University in Anderson, SC to help them lay the foundation for a worship leadership degree
7. Co-Producer Annual Nashville Symphony Community HymnSing - becoming more and more of a mission field/outreach challenge and opportunity
8. Hiring Process For New Associate
9. Helped Jeremy Busler with the overall transition from 100% access to him to less access to him "for my needs and the needs of this campus' ministry" while supporting and assisting him in laying the foundation for South Campus Worship Ministry
10. Coached / Mentored Jeremy Busler, Michael Boggs, Shelly Johnson, Jeremy & Maribeth Johnson - established new relationship with Mike Harland
11. Highly Successful Fall Choir Retreat with guests - Dave Williamson, David Hamilton, and Dr. Deen Entsminger - choral professor from Belmont University
12. Highly Successful 09-09-09 Choir Rehearsal with largest choir rehearsal attendance ever at BBC - special guests, Travis Cottrell and Bill Gaither
13. Hosted and taught (3) classes on Worship Choir Leadership at the bi-annual TBC Music Ministry Leadership Conference
14. Established the additional worship service support position of Stage Manager and immediately "grew" the roster of Producers and Stage Managers from 6 to 8 members who are all highly trained and equipped to handle the details and flow of our Sunday Worship Services
15. Coordinated guests and other additional worship leaders - Steve Green, Michael Boggs, David Hamilton, Jeremy Busler, Shelly Johnson, Jeremy & Maribeth Johnson, Kids Choirs, Good News Singers, Mike Harland, Deaf Church-Led Lord's Supper
16. Coordinated (6) different and definitely unique Summer Sundays in the absence of the choir & orchestra - string quartet, bluegrass, VBS-team, 70-piece Orchestra, 4 pianos, David Hamilton & band - jazz morning.
17. Christmas CD - (including for the first time - Kairos and South Campus)
- and all the related mission outreach efforts associated with it
18. Christmas Eve Services - coordinating efforts to "start over with blank piece of paper"
19. Coordinated, documented, and led weekly worship planning meetings keeping all involved and necessary parties "on the same page" with regard to programming, "messages", "must do's", and attempting to stay focused on the main objective of our worship services - to the extent that that was possible.
20. Assisted, supported, and empowered Jeremy & Maribeth Johnson to further the Music Missions partnership with South Africa as they led the 2009 team in March.
21. Continued to help develop the Masi Choir CD project - getting Michael W. Smith and Jars Of Clay recorded on the CD.
22. Through our 2007 partnership between Michael W. Smith and Living Hope, MWS contributed his portion of the royalties from CompassionArt Project - $5,000 thus far.
23. Led Worship Choir through devotional book - Humility - True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney.

At the end of the review form, we are allowed to make additional personal comments.....
I wrote the following that sums up my heart on this day before Thanksgiving:

"Another interesting and often difficult year of personal stuff intertwined with the load that comes with this position. I continue to marvel at what God does since I consistently wonder how things can ever get done in my limited capacity of energy, knowledge, and skills! I am grateful that God has sustained me thus far through year 16 - never in my craziest dreams could I have imagined......and in and through all of this, I still believe we have yet to see God's best work -and at least for me, that's what keeps me going..."

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who read this entire blog entry!!

P.S. I miss you today, Dad.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The longer I do what I do, the more I realize how my work and pace have certain patterns to them. I know that gearing back up in August for the intensity and work load of each Fall is a ton of work with a ton of things always going on.

This Fall was no different.

When we plan for, prepare for, and record our Christmas CD, we have to do that early in the Fall in order to get everything done in time to have CD's by Thanksgiving. Add to that the weekly planning, the planning for current and future growth, and let's just say it pretty much stays crazy.

A few years ago, Karla and I decided we would take a break every Fall right around the time when we have completed the Christmas CD project and it is no longer in our hands with any further deadlines to meet.

This year, for our time away we ventured into some new territory (literally)....

My first ever visit to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. The closest this Texas boy had ever been to this area was to drive by it on I-40 headed east.

It was a great weekend getaway - perfect weather and gorgeous views.

God sure did good when He created all of this!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Elliott!

My grandson is 2 today - can't believe it!

What a joy to everyone he meets!

So grateful for the time spent with him on Friday.....

love you, E.....

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

No, I am not talking about Halloween!

It has been since October 2006 since I have felt this way.

This weekend, we will finish up the production of our 2009 Christmas CD. We have produced (8) of these since 1997. (I have tried to avoid that predictable high-expectation of "the same" for each Christmas, so that is why we have not created one every single year for Christmas.)

I must admit that I have missed this process these past two years, and I did not realize how much I had missed it until we got into the whole thing. Wow, what a process.

Choosing songs, determing how they all flow together, who should talk on the CD and what they should say and why, choosing the people who should sing whatever solos and other stuff on the CD, allowing some of most creative people ever created by God to do "their thing" - whether that is producing a lead vocal, creating appropriate artwork that reinforces the title and theme, or creating just the right underscore - or balancing and mixing everything to sound just the right way......all of this is simply amazing to be involved in!

I have spent the better part of today dealing with ALL of the above! While over-the-top stressful at times, it is so completely gratifying to be in the middle of such a rewarding experience.

This year, through a series of "God-orchestrated" opportunities, we will be partnering with a wonderful ministry out of Newport News, VA called MILITARY MINISTRY - an international ministry arm of Campus Crusade For Christ. They will take 5,000 of our Christmas CD's and send them to US troops currently serving in the Middle East. They will receive them in time for Christmas. I can't imagine what it must be like to experience Christmas in those conditions half way around the world.

(To get a really great understanding of how they will send these CD's to our troops, click on the 6 Pillars VIDEO and pay close attention to Pillar 4 - Rapid Deployment Kits - our CD's will be included in those!)

I pray God will use this CD to bring hope and comfort this Christmas to all who hear it.

We plan to have actual CD's on hand by November 20. All proceeds will go to pay for the production of the CD and benefit our missions ministry at church.

Hope you will get a copy - it truly is a wonderful collaboration of some of the most beautiful Christmas music ever written - I really do mean that.....but then, I will let you be the judge of that!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy 17th Birthday, Ben!

This guy is 17 years old today.

Ben, you bring immense pleasure to the Worley home!

I love your passion for music - creating it, playing it, listening to it, and conducting it!

One day you will watch your kids grow up in front of you wondering what they will become.

I am grateful I have had these 17 years to watch you grow up, and I can't wait to see what's next for you.

For now, enjoy your today - your birthday!!

I love you, and thank you for making those the last three words you say to me every night!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy 87th Birthday, Dad!

I know that birthdays don't matter in heaven, but they matter to those of us who are still around trying to make sense of our time here on this earth.

Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you today on your earthly birthday.

I miss you, and in honor of you, I found this old photo.

You always blessed the lives of everyone around you.

I am sure you are doing the same in heaven!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top 10 Things I Want Most From My Choir Members

This summer, I have had the joy of leading various workshops at different conferences, the most recent of which was targeted specifically to choir members.

So, in my preparation, I came up with my top ten list of what I want most from my choir members.

Nothing original here, but if you lead choirs, or know someone who does, I encourage you to use these as discussion points and/or a source of encouragement!


1. I want my choir members to love being in the choir.

2. I want my choir members to love and serve one another.

3. I want my choir members to pray for me - (because I need it!)

4. I want my choir members to expect my best at all times.

5. I want my choir members to view their involvement in the choir as a calling and a privilege.

6. I want my choir members to put more into the choir than they could ever imagine receiving from it.

7. I want my choir members to love and pray for the people they lead in worship each week.

8. I want my choir members to love and support our senior pastor.

9. I want my choir members to serve the church in at least one other area of ministry.

10. I want my choir members to develop an appreciation for all kinds of music.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back To School

Karla posted some beautifully creative photos on her Facebook page that represent the past years of "first day of school", and our tradition of capturing our kids on the front porch as they venture off for their very first day of school.

What a wonderful tradition. The end of summer. The beginning of yet another school year.

Karla said it well when she said "Ben is the last man standing"

Five days later, Karla had a full day of meetings, so I stayed home to help Matt load the truck with way more stuff than any human being needs in a frat house room as he ventured down I65 back for his sophomore year at Samford University.

My oh my how these kids grow up so quickly!

Here is Seth (with Karla) leaving for his first day of kindergarten!

Savor the moments we have with our kids, and thank God for each first day of school!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Is Hilarious

I have read, absorbed, and quoted Louie Giglio for several years now.

He is a gifted communicator, visionary leader of this generation, and now a pastor in Atlanta - (at least I think he is).

This is exactly what I would expect from him, and I find it terribly entertaining!

Enjoy by clicking HERE

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Messy Ministry

Ministry is messy.

You do this long enough, you realize it’s just plain messy.

I am currently experiencing an unusually intense period/season of ministry. Over the years, these periods/seasons have come and gone, but this time I have this fear -
I fear this one is the foundation or prelude for more extended periods/seasons of this very kind of pace/intensity/stress that never seem to wane.

Worse, I fear I will adapt/adjust to this, and become immune to the effect that this kind of pace has on my life, my relationships, my health, and my effectiveness as a child of God, son, husband, father, grandfather and minister.

Expectations, deadlines, goals, budgets, meetings, decisions about the future, decisions about songs for this Sunday, evaluations, assessments, reviews, initiatives, retreats, calendars, rehearsals, charts, PowerPoint slides, arrangements, scheduling of people, video venues, multiple services, assumptions, titles, proposals, templates, summaries, campuses, hand-outs, strategies, objectives, stage sets, monitors, microphones, screens, reports, outlines, agendas, policies, reimbursements, weddings, funerals, relational conflict, leadership styles, simple church, strength-finders, finding your place, model-netics, summits, programming alignment, interviews, reference checks, devotional books, rehearsal CD’s, new anthems, leadership teams, more meetings, ministry to the “least of these”, ministry to the “I have everything I need”, ministry to the “heartbroken and miserable”, partnership ministry, misunderstandings, dependence on technology, e-mail inbox, ………on and on the list goes……

If you are reading this, and you think I am slamming my church or only finding the negative in my current situation - I am not.

I could not believe more in the mission of the church, and I believe wholeheartedly in the mission of my church.

I do believe, but I am very overwhelmed at the moment with the business of ministry - ministry is messy!

So, I remember what God reminds me to remember. I open my Bible, I pray my prayers, I ask my kids and my wife to forgive me for working too many hours, I take my day off, I make myself “lie down in green pastures” knowing that if I don’t, God will. My soul needs restoring.

I love what I do. I want to love who I am while I am doing what I do.

Right now, I’m not so sure.

Rest, perspective, silence, and faith are my best friends.

I often remind colleagues in ministry to “stay the course” - tonight I need to take some of the medicine I have been prescribing…….

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Worship Services In The Summertime

One would think that after planning and leading at least 1,500+ worship services over the past 16 years, there couldn't be anything really that "new" to experience while leading a service. Yes, I know that each service brings a different moving of the Spirit, so that is not necessarily what I am referring to.

For the past 5 Sundays, we have "presented" the worship services at my church in 5 uniquely different ways:

July 5 - String Quartet / Piano
July 12 - a Bluegrass Band
July 19 - our VBS band/team led with the choir loft full of kids
July 26 - an 80-piece orchestra on stage

then, today, we had 4 grand pianos on stage with a person at each piano + a 21-voice choir on choir risers between the pianos.

During sound check/rehearsal, I realized the (at the time painful) reality of what the congregational song set would "feel" like with ONLY? pianos playing as musical support. Well - it was weird! That had nothing to do with our pianists - they were outstanding.

We are just so used/accustomed to having a band/orchestra/drum loop or something else to help us keep time, add textures, sounds, etc... to enhance our worship.

Not today.

I told the 21-voice choir - during the congregational songs, let's make sure God hears our VOICES today!

Well, at one point in the 11:00am service, that is exactly what happened. For the first time in a long time, the wall of sound that usually fills "my space on the stage" was replaced with a wall of sound from the room - I could hear the entire room of people singing!! I know - what a concept.

I don't write this to whine or criticize. We have one of the finest church orchestras anywhere, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but I was reminded of something very important today - we need to hear people sing their praises to God as much as we need to be accompanied and supported with incredible musicians who are equally offering their praises to God.

So - for those of you who felt awkward this morning or that something "just wasn't right" or "I couldn't feel the beat" - it was more than OK - in fact, it was least for today....

wait til next week!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Staying In Love

A friend came to see me last week, then told me he would be heading to Atlanta for the weekend, and he was going to attend North Point Community Church for the first time.

I was somewhat surprised that he had not already visited North Point, so I asked him if their pastor, Andy Stanley would be speaking? He was not sure. I offered to find out for him.

To my friend's disappointment, Andy was actually speaking that Sunday at Willow Creek Church in Chicago, IL.

I happen to follow Andy on Twitter, and he sent this on Sunday morning.

"I am speaking at Willow Creek this morning - filling in for John Maxwell who is filling in for Bill Hybels - being 3rd string ain't bad"

So, I decided to see what Andy had to say as "3rd string" at Willow last Sunday.

If you are married, and you care about the person you are married to, you MUST take 35 minutes to watch THIS

1. Once you click on the site
3. Andy's Sermon Information will appear
4. Click on VIDEO and enjoy....

Powerful stuff!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Texas Family Reunion

Having traveled some 1,800+ miles, spent 30 some-odd hours in the same vehicle, and had a wonderful time with my "Texas" family as well as getting even more acquainted with my own family, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some photos and look back on the past few days.....

1 - My mom (Alice Ruth) and her sister (Faye)
2 - These (3) guys belong to my sister - (L-R) - oldest son, Brian - son, Kyle - husband, Sam
3 - Ben Worley - (who spent most of his time at his computer composing music or being with Elliott - see photo below!)
4 - Elliott and Seth
5 - Matt - (over his left shoulder is my first cousin, Rodney McGee - Rodney's son, Stephen was just drafted by the Dallas Cowboys - made for quite a stir at the family reunion!!)
6 - Stopped by the cemetary so Arley could see my Dad's gravesite. I am so grateful that God took him in April. If he had lived into the summer, we could have never had a beautiful grave-side service because of the extreme heat - honestly, with 3-digit temperatures, we could barely stand to be outside for any length of time...
7 - These guys (E and Ben) has SO MUCH FUN together on the whole trip!!
8 - All the kids have to perform as part of the program - Elliott preferred to watch from down front!!
9 - My mom bought this toy for my nephew 37 years ago - Fisher Price would be proud!!
10 - My brother-in-law gave Matt a kayak - all we had to do was "get it home".....

A most memorable trip in so many ways - Arley, Seth, and Karla all captured the trip in their own unique ways as well. I am still amazed that you can drive for hours and still never make it out of the state of Texas!!!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Getting away this week from the regular-ness of my life and work has been personally and professionally much needed and greatly valued.

Being at Ridgecrest is a rich tradition of the strange combination of heritage and sentimentality. There are people here who have been coming to this place every year for 40 or more years. I'm not sure what I think of that - I guess if it has helped them deepen their ministry, and encouraged them to "stay the course", then I supposed that's a good thing. If on the other hand, it has become a place for purely reminiscing, then I am not so sure we can afford to sit around for too long pondering the "good ole' days!"

It has been interesting to see how this place has evolved through the years. (The last time I was here for this particular week was 15 years ago.) I applaud LifeWay for working hard to continue to be a ministry resource and equipping center for churches all over America - that is no easy task these days.

I am also noticing how tough it is to be in ministry these days. Everyone here is dealing with the stuff of life, and how to minister to people who seem to be hurting more now than ever before (not sure that that is necessarily true, but it seems so), while trying to lead ministries with not nearly enough resources, attempting to manage/balance their ministry and family - all the while dealing with pastors who are being told by every person with a book deal, website, and a conference how they are supposed to grow their church - often times at the expense of some wonderful men and women who merely want to help people worship God more genuinely and effectively. Many of these folks are dealing with churches who have made the questionable decision to "market" worship services based on a style of music.

These are indeed difficult days for many, many local church Music & Worship Ministries.

I can't help but think about this tunnel that we drove through to get to the mountains. So often, we think of a tunnel in terms of "well - just remember, there's a light at the end of the tunnel" or my favorite even more stupid line - "there's a light at the end of the tunnel and it's a freight train!"

I choose to look at this tunnel in a different way - someone, somewhere, at sometime determined that the only or best way for someone to get from point A to point B with a mountain in the way was to "tunnel" through or under that mountain. No easy task, and probably the person or people who thought that up were severely criticized and questioned. But, they persevered, and as a result, we have a nice, smooth ride "through/under" that mountain on our way to a glorious destination like Ridgecrest.

So, for myself and my new friends I am making here this week, I encourage us all to look at wherever we are in the tunnel of our ministry - not so much that there is light at the end as much as what is it that God wants us to learn from where we are right now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Power Of Cinema

I realize I may be one of the last remaining humans who had not seen the movie, Gran Torino and maybe worse - this movie was the recipient of my first and only "Fandango" screw-up where I bought the tickets to go see it, and changed me mind one hour before it was to begin. How completely stupid was that?

Anyway, this past Sunday, the first Father's Day - 11 weeks following my father's death - I sat down with my middle son and watched this powerful story unfold on my living room TV.

I know that we all watch movies for so many different reasons. Most of all, we want to be entertained and escape the crap of life.....probably most of the time, we want to laugh, we want to enjoy a great adventure, watch things blow up, and see people fall in love, and appreciate our favorite actors being the heroes that movies tell us they are.

I had only seen a few previews for this movie, but from the opening scene, I was hooked. Maybe it was the emotions of my first Father's Day where I did not send anything to my Dad or talk to him on the phone. Maybe it was the amazing story, maybe it was Clint Eastwood's performance. I was so moved by this film, I practically made Karla sit down with me the next night and watch it again.

I will watch it several more times because (at least for me) there is so much in this film that causes me to stop and think about my life, my relationships, and my faith.

One of the blogs I like to read - listed on the side panel of my blog - is Brett McCracken. I have never met Brett, but I wandered onto his blog one day, and have been a regular ever since. He is a film critic, and I love his world-view, and his take on films. He is one of the film critics for Christianity Today. He and his fellow critics rated Gran Torino as #3 of the 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2008.

I couldn't agree more.

If you want to read Brett's review of this film, go HERE


Friday, June 12, 2009

Painful Life Lessons

Yesterday (less than 24 hours after appearing in Juvenile Traffic Court for two moving violations within 24 hours of each other) Ben lost control of our red Jeep and rammed a telephone pole 5 minutes from our home.

Bless this boy's heart.....not a good 11 weeks with the freedom and responsibility a driver's license brings a 16-year old.

I am grateful he was unhurt and if I have to wake up to a phone call early in the morning, I would rather it be from one of my sons telling me they were in a wreck than an officer of the law explaining to me my son was in a wreck.

Later in the day yesterday, I received yet another apologetic text from him. My response was simple and to the point. Life's lessons are often very, very painful. and yes, cars can be repaired or replaced - he can't!

So, I will take him to his 8-hour Defensive Driving Class tomorrow, and then he won't be driving for awhile. Time away from being behind the steering wheel of a moving vehicle will do him so good right now.......

Friday, June 05, 2009

Rehearse Truth

This Sunday in our worship services, we will spend some time in Psalm 22.

The final 10 verses of the 31 total verses in Psalm 22 are powerful.

They are powerful probably because of the first 21 verses.

At the conclusion of choir rehearsal this past Wednesday evening, we took the time to look at and respond individually/personally to the (4) prayer journaling "prompts" prepared by Ramon Presson.

In his fourth and final prompt, Ramon makes note that the psalmist, David makes a shift from gut-wrenching lament and desperate plea to proclamation. He goes on to say that given that it's not merely a sudden mood swing, what then do verses 22-31 tell us about the value of rehearsing the truth of who God is?

Rehearsing anything is usually in preparation for something important - presentation or performance. The Dictionary says rehearsal is "a session of exercise, drill, or practice, usually private, in preparation for a public performance, ceremony, etc"

The importance of rehearsing truth has become very important to me these past several weeks of my life. You probably relate. It really seems sometimes as if the psalmist wrote the EXACT words that I would write. I have been pretty brutally honest with God lately. I've been angry, frustrated, and yes, even felt somewhat abandoned.

I know better. The only reason I know better is because of my faith in the truth. Jesus said it - "I am the way, the truth, and the life." - John 14:6

My friend Jeremy is going to sing an old song at the beginning of our services on Sunday to help us "rehearse truth". The song, "In His Sanctuary" was written in 1983 by Michael Hudson and Michael W. Smith.

As I was looking for a recording of this song to play for Jeremy, I had searched everywhere I could and finally e-mailed Michael W. to see if he might know where to find a recording. Amusingly, he did not remember writing the song. (He also never recorded it, which might explain in part why he does not remember writing it!) Considering the hundreds of songs he has written and considering I don't remember very many details of my life from 1983, this is pretty understandable, but still funny!

Here are the words to this song - the second verse has become my personal theme for the week.....

by Michael Hudson and Michael W. Smith
©1985 O’Ryan Music, Inc. / ASCAP

(verse 1)
Life can bend and break me
But the Father has a way of keeping me together
through the burdens of the day
He tells me “Come away, it’s time we had some time alone”
And ev’ry time I come away it feels like going home

In His Sanctuary there is glory, there is strength.
In the Presence of the Father there is wisdom, there is peace.
I will come and worship.
I will listen, I will speak
Most amazing conversation, most amazing transformation,
As the God of all creation talks to me.

(verse 2)
Nothing I won’t show Him,
Nothing I can hide.
I’ve never known a burden that was better kept inside.
How many times I’ve known the joy and found that sweet release,
And worry turns to worship,
And burdens turn to peace.

(repeat chorus)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Watching My Friend Have The Time Of His Life!

Last Friday evening, Karla and I attended the Nashville Symphony concert as guests of our dear friend, Billy Ray Hearn.

Being with Billy Ray and his wife, Nancy is always special, but this particular evening was extra special.

A few weeks earlier, at a fund-raiser for the Symphony, one of the items that donors could "bid on" was an opportunity to CONDUCT THE SYMPHONY!!!

Well, Billy Ray WON, and here is my best effort to capture his "moment" using my cell phone camera - (keep in mind they do NOT allow photography during Symphony concerts, so I probably broke several rules, but I don't care!)

It was such a wild ride watching him conduct! I was thrilled for my friend, and he did an outstanding job!!!

Way to go Billy Ray!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Knee Pain

5 days after my knee "scope", Matt and I were driving over to Seth and Arley's new house to mow and edge their yard.

We were on I65 headed north when this truck got my attention.

Good grief, what a truck, and what a way to get someone's attention!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Past 30 Days

The past 30 days have been stupid crazy - much like everyone else's life these days!

In the past 30 days, the following has occurred in and around our small world:

1. I "re-furbished" the backyard fort, added a new roof, slide, and swing!

2. Ben and his lovely date, Marissa went to Prom

3. Seth became 25 years old, and we celebrated his birthday!

4. My mother's first cousin's grandson got drafted by the Dallas Cowboys!

5. Seth and Arley closed on their first house - exciting days ahead for them!

6. BBC moved its PM Sunday Service to the new Hudson Hall.

7. I traveled to New York City to visit Redeemer Presbyterian Church!
(I'm convinced I am supposed to be a Presbyterian)

8. Matt (and a team of 4 other Samford students)
won the Regions Bank New Venture Challenge
(a business plan competition for Samford students) - how exciting!

9. Ben had his Spring Band Concert - outstanding!

10. BBC had a Missions Celebration Service - part of which we honored ReConstruct!

11. Ben had his Spring Band Banquet - he won (2) awards!

12. We celebrated Mother's Day with a fantastic lunch cooked by Paul -
then Karla celebrated by going to see Star Trek!

13. Elliott discovered the trampoline, and wishes to make it his new home!

14. Seth finished his LifeWay Fuge Camp Videos - they are all outstanding!

15. Matt has a new job - (in addition to mowing lawns for David Moody all summer)!

16. Seth premiered his film, The Time Closet
at the Western Kentucky Film Festival!

17. I created a "When I Die" file - everyone should have one - seriously!

18. I had knee surgery

19. Because of my knee surgery, we missed the James Taylor Concert last night
(major bummer) I hope J&M enjoyed it in our place!!

20. Someone ran into the back of our Expedition

21. Ben ran into the back of another person's car

22. Karla "had" to get a new phone - she has now discovered "Twitter"
So, where do I begin to blog about (22) things in (30) days? I can't, and I won't.

Sometimes I'm better off making a list, and moving on - just grateful for a life that is anything but boring!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Simple Life

Many of you who read this blog from time to time will relate to this post because you have experienced first-hand what I experienced today.

While my Mom was at doctor's appointment 30 miles away, I (along with the trusty help from my aunt) cleaned out my Dad's closet. (My mom really didn't want to be here for that - totally understandable)

I knew today was "my day to step up." My sister has "walked through fire" these past several days - not to mention weeks, months, and years simply by "being here" (she lives 30 minutes away) whenever my Mom and Dad needed her. As a retired school teacher, she recently took an extended "sub" job at a school - today, she had to go back to work.

So, in no way attempting to measure up to or come anywhere near what she has done for this family in so many different ways, I knew that at least to some extent, this was "my job" to do what needed to be done - I had to be the "closet-cleaner"!

What I discovered in this process was yet another tribute to the class and character of my Dad.....

1. Put others first
2. Don't make a big deal about the clothes you wear -
choose function over style
3. Stay organized
4. Live simply

Here is a photo of every single piece of clothing my father owned - (yes, a few things had already been claimed, but this was the bulk of it) - all fitting in one small suitcase and on several hangers! He lived 86 years for crying out loud, and the sum total of his clothing fit on the corner of his bed! (He did have some kind of thing for suspenders - notice the basketful!)

I then had to photograph this bag and this cap. I gave this bag to my Dad many years ago at Christmas - it is still in mint condition. I think this cap was his favorite. I really hope my mom will hang it in the closet as a reminder of the wonderful man he was.

I miss him today.....and now I need to go home and throw everything I have away - (or at least make sure that ALL my clothes fit on the corner of my bed!) - it really doesn't matter anyway does it? I certainly can't take it with me, so I can only hope and pray that whatever it is I leave behind will be of value to my kids or grand kids.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Easter To Remember

This Easter Sunday would have been my 17th consecutive Easter Sunday to have the privilege of standing before the congregation of my church and lead them in worship on the most glorious of Sundays! As important as that is to me (and believe me - it is REALLY important to me!), I will instead be sitting with my Mom and sister (celebrating all that Easter is to a Christ-follower) at the First Baptist Church of San Marcos, Texas.

I truly can't wait! What an honor to culminate a most amazing (and yes, extremely difficult) week of my life.

This past Tuesday morning (April 7) around 2:15am, my Dad left this earth, and joined the countless number of saints in heaven in the very presence of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

On Good Friday, we joined together as a family to honor his life sitting out under the partly-cloudy skies in the middle of "no-where" Central Texas (Uhland, Texas to be exact) at the Live Oak Cemetery.

The five grandsons and two great-grandsons lifted his flag-draped casket from the hearse, walked it to the designated spot, and then the brief, buy very meaningful grave-side service began.

Two military men took the flag from my Dad's casket, carefully held it over the casket as "Taps" was played, then they took what seemed like forever to meticulously fold it - it was powerful to watch them do this. One of the men then held it for "inspection" to the other. The other then took it, marched ever so slowly to stand directly in front of my mom, knelt on one knee and presented the flag to her. His words were unforgettable - "on behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I present this flag to you in honor and appreciation of your husband's service to our country." I was stunned - I had seen this in movies and on TV, but never right in front of me, and certainly not with someone saying that in reference to my Dad....

My mom and dad's pastor read scripture, prayed, then opened it up for anyone to say something who wanted to. My nephew - the oldest grandson spoke - and boy did he speak powerfully about my Dad. He then challenged all the grandsons and great-grandsons to continue this man's legacy in how they live their lives. WOW! I was blown away. Then Ben (my youngest) told a funny story of how he must have received his grandaddy's "gene" for patience in repairing things and re-assembling things! It was perfect!

Where would we be without faith and family in times like these?

We then got in our cars and journeyed 5 minutes away to the little county church where my mom grew up, and where (63) years ago, my mom and dad were married. Now on this Good Friday, she celebrated his life.

I can't begin to imagine all that was going through her mind and heart as she sat through a beautiful service of remembrance in front of a packed house of maybe 175 people. (Here's a photo of the front of the sanctuary and all the beautiful flowers)

After the service, everyone gathered in the fellowship hall to re-connect, express their love to each of us, and simply enjoy the company of one another.

This final photo just astounds me for its beauty. Besides Seth's capturing of the moment in such a powerful way, Ben is wearing one of my dad's hats that his grandmother gave him the day before the service........

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I have many, many friends whose Dad no longer lives here on earth. Regardless of how they died - expected or unexpected - regardless of their age (after all - at what age determines whether a person lived a long and fruitful life anyway?) - the loss is real, and it hurts because they simply are no longer around.

My Dad is gone, and I will not see him again until I get to heaven, but his mind is now clear, his body is now healed, and he is now in the presence of God Almighty! Wow!

On September 12 of last year, he turned 86. I posted the following words and photos about him. They have never been more real to me than now. Here is what I said then, and here is what I say now - this time on his first birthday in heaven!
(do they even keep track of those kinds of things there?)
Today is my father's 86th birthday!

For all these years W.J has lived and contributed to so many people's lives in a variety of ways. He has done so in what many would call "the old fashion way" - hard work, determination, and caring for others.

His dry sense of humor, his quiet spirit, and his work ethic have always impressed me, and anyone who knows him.

As a child, I remember him working 12 hours @ day - 7 days a week at the Gulf Service Station. I don't know how he did it.

Together we have built many things in and around our home. They are constant reminders of his ability to use his hands to create something of value. I love "constructing things with wood", and that love comes directly from him.

My favorite of all time is this deck that we built 20 years ago (in the summer of 1988). The people who now live in this house probably don't realize how special that "work of art" is to my family, but I will always remember that experience!

(Good grief, I hope I can build something like this when I am 66 years old!!)

So, thanks Mr. Worley for being around for 86 years. You really WERE a good man, friend, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

(The photo at the top is my Dad with my sister's grandson. I love the expressions on their faces!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

This Kid Is Driving!

in a motorized vehicle legally and alone without a parent in the front seat!

I know it's happened twice before, but something about the youngest born driving out of the driveway with new-found freedom......yikes!

Today part of me is wishing the kid in the photo above was still running around the house.......but only a really, really small part of me......

Buzz Lightyear has to be smiling!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ken Medema

One of the many wonderful people God has brought into my path over the years is a talented musician named Ken Medema. If you know him, know who he is, or have never heard of him, you will enjoy the following - and BTW, this man's laugh and love of life bring great joy to my life!_________________________________________________
25 Little Known Things About Ken

1) He wears 2 different size shoes
2) Fell off a stage and landed on his feet in the orchestra pit - had the presence of mind to yell out - "It was all part of the act."
3) He has been happily married to his wife, Jane, for 44 years
4) He has 2 grandchildren, Charlotte, 5 and Henry, 1 (named after Ken's dad)
5) He and his sister Mary were both born blind
6) He has a daughter, Rachel, who is getting married in the next year or so
7) He has produced over 38 albums in his career
8) He uses a text reading program called "JAWS" so he can read e-mails and surf the web.
9) He reads "audio" books and reads at least 40-50 books per year
10) He wishes an iPod would be more friendly to blind people
11) Performed after speeches by Desmond Tutu, Charles Kuralt, Bill Moyers, Jimmy Carter, Marian Wright Edelman and Lynn Redgrave among many others
12) His favorite ice cream flavor is French Vanilla
13) His loves French Roast coffee
14) He is on the road over 200 days per year
15) Over his career he has composed nearly 65 choral anthems
16) For years, he rode a two-wheeled bike in his neighborhood
17) His favorite literary genre is science fiction
18) He loves driving golf carts
19) His podcast called Inside the Songs (LINK) comes out on the 15th of every month.
20) He played second chair trumpet in the junior high band because he couldn't sight read.
21) He can "see" little light and dark images outdoors in bright sun light
22) He has his degree in Music Therapy
23) His web site is "Accessible", which means that if you hover over an item it will audibly tell you what it is with his reading program
24) He has written the theme music for 30 Good Minutes a TV show broadcast from Chicago on PBS
25) In college, he could swim the entire length of an Olympic pool underwater with one breath

For more information on Ken, click HERE

Monday, March 16, 2009

Young Church Singers

OK - I am REALLY "dating" myself now.....

As a student at Baylor University, I had the joy and privilege of being in a contracted studio session recording group - hired by WORD Music (located at that time in Waco, Texas) to record about once a month on a Saturday in Dallas, Texas.

The leader and person who formed/hired (and named) this group was Charles F. Brown. At that time, he was Senior Editor in charge of all choral works published by WORD Music, and he needed an quick and inexpensive way to record his choral demonstration recordings.

So, he hired a bunch of college students, and called us the "Young Church Singers."

Not highly original, but heck 30+ years ago, we thought it was pretty cool!

This group was really good - (I still am not sure how I got in, but it sure was fun -and hard work!)

I am guessing this photo was taken sometime around 1975 or 1976.

Oh to be a college student again and earn $75 on a Saturday, hanging out with good friends and making good music!

(The first person to identify me in the photo gets a free recording of the Young Church Singers - HA HA!!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

South Africa Music Team

Landing in Cape Town, South Africa later today will be this wonderful group of close friends of mine.

For the past 3 years, I have led a team of musicians/worship leaders to Cape Town to lead workshops and partner with a local church and Christian radio station to help develop local South African Christian musicians, and even help them get their songs developed to be played on the radio there.

This is my first time to not be leading a team, and I hate that, but I am so pleased for this group to be going under the way more than capable leadership of Jeremy and Maribeth.

If you would, please take a minute to pray for them (by name) right now as you read this - that God would use them to encourage and equip these incredible folks living on the other side of the world!

in the photo - L-R are: Chris, Todd, Joyce, Maribeth, Jeremy, and Shelly!

Their workshops will be this Friday and Saturday, and Cape Town is (7) hours LATER than Nashville! So a really good time to pray for them is as you go to bed each night! Thank you

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ben - String Bass

Ben Worley - String Bass from Dennis Worley on Vimeo.

This video is excerpts from a Wind Ensemble Concert that Ben got to be a part of about a month ago. These are high school band kids from all over the middle Tennessee area playing under the direction of guest conductor, Dario Sotelo - Artistic Director and Conductor of the Brazilian Wind Orchestra, and the Principal Conductor of the Paulista Symphonic Orchestra.

This was an incredible experience for Ben, and I hope you enjoy watching him play this most amazing music!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

30 Years

February 24, 1979

Today marks 30 years of marriage to Karla!

So far this morning, we have celebrated by taking care of Ben who has the stomach flu....welcome to life.....

God has blessed us way beyond expectations.

After 30 years, we are still learning how to love each other, care for each other, communicate with each other, and enjoy each other, but the journey has been and continues to be incredible.

We have friends who have shown us what a healthy marriage looks like, we have friends who have helped us raise our kids, and we have/had Godly parents who modeled a healthy marriage. What more does a couple need?

As we grow old together, I am reminded of something Jay Strother said as part of Seth and Arley's wedding ceremony in September 2006 - (pardon my loose interpretation) "Seth and Arley believe that they can accomplish more for God together than separately, and therefore they come together in holy matrimony to do that."

Every day that I get to live, I want to believe that is exactly what God has allowed in our lives. So, today, I thank God for my marriage to Karla, and pray that it can always bring glory to Him.

(yes, the photo was taken at our wedding reception, and she is indeed a beautiful bride, and I have no idea where my hair went!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

World-Class Musicianship

Last night, Ben and I had the immense joy of attending the US Navy Band in concert at the Collins Alumni Auditorium on the campus of Lipscomb University.

Besides being a "free" concert - (Ben and I had a lively debate on the way home trying to decide who covered all the expenses so that the concert attendees did not have to pay to see this group!!)

The concert was outstanding. A mixture of unique classical pieces intertwined with Sousa marches, and their performance of John Williams' classic movie theme, E.T. was just amazing!

They invited some area high school and college students to join them on stage to play the Sousa march, "The Washington Post"..... wow!

What a beautiful evening of incredible music played by some of the most extraordinary musicians anywhere.

If you get the chance to see and hear them while they are on their 26 concert-28 day tour, don't miss it! I would have gladly paid to experience it!

For more information, click HERE