Wins & Losses (April 15-21)

Wins

  • As boring as this might sound, not a whole lot happened last week aside from work. I consider this a win because of the chaos that is sure to come with the month of May. As we prepare to end the school year, have another baby, and figure out day-to-day life in our house, weeks without added activities seem quite nice. On the days that I had to work nights, we enjoyed our 105 minutes together over supper. On the nights I didn’t work, we enjoyed them even if we spent them doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Summer is looking real nice right about now.
  • It’s nice to be wanted. Just last week, two churches reached out to me wanting further information past my résumé. To know that I someone cares enough to want to see more of my gifts is humbling. I am grateful for those moments. It’s reminding me that my time is not being wasted as I wait patiently for the Lord’s direction.
  • Wednesday night debuted the first of three GOP gubernatorial debates in the state of Tennessee. Memphis welcomed U.S. Representative Diane Black, businessman Bill Lee, and former economic commissioner Randy Boyd to the Halloran Center for their debate (Speaker Beth Harwell was presiding over the GA in Nashville). I didn’t get to watch much of it. However, when one particular candidate said something ridiculous, I scoffed. Reagan was close by and immediately mimicked it. The moment was adorable. The opportunity to teach my child to take politicians with a grain of salt is monumental.
  •  If you have followed Becca or myself on social media, then you know that Reagan finally started walking last week! What was two steps at a time on Sunday turned to laps around the room by Saturday. Watching her face light up as she realizes her new skill is an absolute joy. Though walking is not completely exclusive at the moment, we wouldn’t be surprised if she gets to running before the month is out.

Losses

  • Several later nights in a row at Lowe’s had me extra tired the next morning. Pair it with the cold weather and my students were wondering what in the world was wrong with me. Most of the nights went by rather quickly thanks to lots of tasks that needed to be done. As grateful as I am for this job right now, I’ll be glad when I can go to be at a decent hour again.
  • I am absolutely sick and tired of Tennessee weather right now. I want warm sunshine and rain on occasion. Preferably when I’m not working outside at night. Not knowing whether to bring a fleece jacket to work and then regretting it when I don’t is just about to do me in.
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Wins & Losses (April 8-14)

Wins

  • For a long time, I’ve wanted to attend a service at Grace Community Church in Cordova, not far from our old church home. My friend, Philip, is the music director there. Now that my Sundays are a bit more flexible, he asked me to come be an accompanist on April 8th and I quickly agreed. And boy, did I have a time with them! We played some excellent music. It was so great to hear another singing church and those Presbyterians can SING. I enjoyed taking Communion near the end of the service and especially loved learning a new piano arrangement of “To God be the Glory” which I played for offertory. I’ll get to go back there in late May, and I’m certainly looking forward to it!
  • The 2018-2019 season at the Orpheum wrapped up for us on Thursday night when we attended a performance of “Something Rotten!” This is a huge hit on Broadway and I was ecstatic when the Orpheum announced they were bringing it to Memphis for this season. It was certainly the show I’d been looking forward to all season, and reason enough to renew our season tickets. Despite some raunchy moments, the show was absolutely hilarious and worth our time. Though we won’t have season tickets next year, I’ll look forward to attending a few shows at our wonderful theatre here in the Bluff City.

Losses

  • I’m tired. The wife is tired. Reagan is tired. With the exception of yet-to-be-born Kennedy, we’re all tired due to various things and just need a nap. That is all.

Ministry Limbo

As you all know, I left my most recent ministry position back in February. I did not leave because I was hired by another church or even because I thought I’d be hired by another church. My wife and I had felt for some time that our work there was finished and it was time to press on. It was a major step of faith to leave there not knowing where to go next. We have since been attending a great church in Piperton where we are learning a lot. It’s also given us a much-needed time of ministerial rest.

Yet, I still feel called to vocational ministry in the local church. I knew when we left Leawood East that I still wanted to do church work; we just didn’t know when and where it would happen. So, I’ve been applying to churches of all sizes in various places. Some have responded, some haven’t. Some have requested more information from me, some tell me they are moving on with another candidate. I was even in serious talks with a church and went through 2 Skype interviews before they let me know they didn’t feel led to move forward with my candidacy. Other than that, I’ve been spending my weeknights at Lowe’s making sure the garden center is in tip-top shape.

All of this time of ministry limbo can take its toll on a body. There have been moments where I just felt down in the dumps about everything and wondered if what I am doing now is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I mean, who wants to hire someone that left his church with nowhere to go? Why, if I know I am called to church work, would God keep me from working in a church? And finally, why won’t hardly any church even give me a chance to talk to them about what I do?

As you can see, it’s been a tough month and a half. I have wondered at times if I am flirting with depression. Some days, mustering up the strength to clock in at Lowe’s drives me crazy. There are moments when I get so upset when churches email me with the “Thank you for your time” email (not at them, just at the situation).

But one thing I have come to realize is that this time of ministerial rest is a prime time for me to learn some things and place them in my arsenal without having to implement anything right away. By attending a church that is very different from any church of which I’ve ever been a part, I’m learning the healthy balance between emotion and intellectuality (a.k.a. “reverence and awe”) in corporate worship. I’m listening to several podcasts weekly that are geared toward men & women in vocational ministry. I am getting opportunities here and there to serve in local churches, and with that, I’m discovering new ways to implement old methods. And one statement has kept me grounded through all of this. As I was listening to the Rainer on Leadership: Growing Healthy Churches podcast last week, Dr. Rainer made a statement that rang through my bones and forced a piece of humble pie down my throat.

“Just because you go from a church to a secular job doesn’t mean you’re out of ministry–you just have a new mission field.”

And that just puts everything in perspective.

Wins & Losses (April 1-7)

Wins

  • Resurrection Sunday was celebrated well. We attended the earlier service at our church before we went to Adamsville to celebrate Easter and mom’s birthday. Seeing both sides of the family that weekend was busy, but rewarding and refreshing. Our pastor preached a great sermon detailing Jesus appearing to the disciples post-resurrection and how His coming to them on the water illustrates how He pursues us as His children. ‘Twas a wonderful Easter indeed.
  • Another abbreviated school week had me in good spirits. Not only were we out for Easter Monday, but I was only at school for two days before we left Thursday morning for a tour of Tennessee with the Horn Lake Middle School Choir. Spring break followed by a four-day week followed by a two-week was real nice. I’m sure I’m in for a treat this week.
  • After a month on the job, I finally received my forklift license. Learning how to drive the forklift was surprisingly much easier than I expected. I’m happy that I can now do a lot more in the Garden Center when things begin to slow down in the evenings. Not sure how marketable that makes me in the future, but it certainly doesn’t hurt things!
  • The end of week was nothing for the faint of heart. Becca and I departed Horn Lake, MS with 37 middle schoolers and two more adults for a quick trip through Tennessee. The students sang in Jackson, Cookeville, and Pigeon Forge before they spent Saturday at Dollywood. They placed very high in the competition, and brought home hardware for 1st place Middle School-Mixed Choral and 1st place Overall Middle School-Choral. We are so proud of them and I am so proud of my wife. Watching her lead them not only in music, but in administration was a delight. She really showed her maturity in handling unforeseen situations and I couldn’t have been prouder.

Losses

  • Our little girl was super sick last week. The spring pollen is having a hey-day with her allergies and has that nose running like a fountain. After a few more symptoms, we made an appointment with the pediatrician to discover a yeast infection. It certainly explained a lot. A few days at Granna’s with some ointment has certainly improved things, but it didn’t make it easier on Reagan’s parents having to watch her endure all this mess.
  • Despite the overall success of the trip, the cold weather and rain dampened things (no pun intended). Walking through Dollywood in the cold and wet was not the most enjoyable experience in the world. Becca, her student teacher, and myself fervently looked for opportunities to stay indoors where we found eat and drank plenty of hot coffee to keep us warm.

Wins & Losses (March 25-31)

Wins

  • An abbreviated week at school due to Good Friday was thoroughly enjoyed. It took a bit of finagling to figure out my schedule, but it all worked out quite well. I showed a gospel music documentary in my general music (GM) class, and found it quite interesting myself. It’s really incredible to see not only where gospel music planted its roots, but how much it has changed and continues to change today. I hope the students enjoyed it as much as I did, though I’m sure that’s quite a lofty hope.
  • Due to some scheduling irregularities, I enjoyed 3 nights in a row at home with my girls. We had such a good time together and it made me look forward to summer when it will be the three (and soon, four) of us home all at the same time. Hectic? Most likely. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • Speaking of the four of us, Becca went in for her monthly doctor’s appointment and got a 3D ultrasound of our little one. It was amazing to see such detail. Kennedy even stuck her tongue out at one point! By our speculations (which don’t have the best record right now; see gender guessing), Kennedy is going to favor Reagan a lot. We’ll just have to see in about 2.5 months! We have now moved to appointments every two weeks, and all of a sudden we’re nearly there.

                         

  • Because of my work schedule, I wasn’t able to attend a Good Friday service in the evening at our current church. So I decided to attend the GF service at Second Presbyterian at noon on Friday. It was an extremely reverent and beautifully somber time of reflection. I’ll admit that I hadn’t been as reflective as I wanted to be during Holy Week, and this service put things in perspective for me. We sang a few hymns with which I wasn’t familiar, and I was glad to be introduced to them. I appreciated their request for absolute silence only when the congregation sang, or responded to God’s Word.
  • Thanks to some wonderful weather, I found enough time in the day on Saturday to give the yard its first mowing of the year. I only got 2/3 of the entire yard, but it was enough to make me feel accomplished and make the yard look a little neater. Now on to the back yard…

Losses

  • I hate mouth ulcers. I inherited this awful trait from my mother in that I develop mouth ulcers much more often than the average person. It’s not uncommon for me to have them every two weeks and when I do, rarely is it just one at a time. I’ve gotten them on my lips, tongue, and throat before, and they hurt like the dickens. Brushing my teeth is never more painful than when I have an ulcer. Sometimes, they come about because of stress. Other times, they just rear their ugly head because they can. Either way, it’s miserable each time.
  • Pollen has returned. I never did like yellow cars.

Wins & Losses (March 18-24)

Wins

  • We have started attending Living Hope Church on the Sundays when I am not supplying somewhere in the area. This is a non-denominational church located in Piperton, TN. Though non-denominational, they are affiliated with The Gospel Coalition and the Acts 29 Network. We have visited here a couple of time and have been moved by the preaching each time. I even attended a men’s retreat hosted by the church back in January. The environment is something I’m not used to, but it’s not completely unfamiliar territory. Living Hope has a church plant in the Vollentine Evergreen community as well and we fully support the vision of this church. We’re definitely looking forward to worshiping here for a season.
  • Last week was a red-letter week for my alma mater. The Union University Lady Bulldog basketball team made it to the Final Four of the NCAA D2 tournament. Unfortunately, they fell in the semi-final game to Central Missouri University. But for only being in the NCAA for less than 5 years and making it this far is an accomplishment worth noting. I enjoyed following them via radio and Twitter and they certainly helped pass the time while working at Lowe’s. This alumnus is certainly proud of the Lady Bulldogs!
  • Becca went out of town for a conference on Thursday, which meant we needed some help watching Reagan in the evenings while I was at work. My family came in shifts between Thursday and Saturday and helped us out with her. They also voluntarily cleaned the house and cooked great food while they were there. It was a pretty stress-free weekend with their help, and we are grateful for it.
  • I learned something about myself over the last week. Most people know their top two love languages. For me, my top 2 had been quality time and touch. Over time, however, I have realized that my top 2 love languages have morphed into quality time and words of affirmation, closely followed with acts of service. I could bore you and pinpoint areas where I think that transition has taken place, but I won’t. But, you should know that I’m a huge proponent of knowing your love languages because I think it helps us better relate to one another.

Losses

  • Rejection is never, ever a positive thing. Rejection is usually more sour when more time and effort has been put into something. I experienced this last week and had a pretty rough time with it. I was almost expecting it by the time it happened, but certainly not in days beforehand. I did not handle it well on the day of. One always wonders what one could’ve done differently to change the outcome, but it does no good. The best thing to do is dust off your pants, pick yourself up, and press on. That’s sure what I had to do. Onward.
  • Becca was gone for three days on a school trip. I missed her. I’m glad she came back and I’m really glad that the next time she leaves on a trip, I’m going with her. Coming for you, East Tenenssee!
  • I hate conflict. I absolutely hate it. And I really hate it when I have to be the one to initiate it. Otherwise, it will steam until it explodes. Such was was the case at the beginning of the week last week. I had to get something off my chest and it didn’t come without some conflict. I was very upset and needed to get it out. Thanks to patience, a good night’s sleep, and some time to think, the conflict was resolved and both parties recognized faults. I’m glad it is over, but I always wish it never had to happen.

Wins & Losses (March 11-17)

Wins

  • I supplied at First Baptist Church (Covington, TN) on Sunday. Their most recent music minister just accepted a call to First Baptist Church (Paris, TN), so they are in the transitional stages right now. I had a wonderful time with them and their pastor. And man, they are a SINGING church. I’m not just talking about the choir, but the congregation. I was so thrilled so see and hear it. Their choir was well-trained and sang with great conviction and confidence. I hope to supply there again in the near future, and I’m grateful to Dr. Scott Shepherd for the recommendation!
  • Spring break came not a moment too soon. We intentionally planned nothing for the time so we could rest as much as possible. And with the time change, that proved to be a most worthy goal. Sleeping in until about 9, eating breakfast as a family, and enjoying the day together was so nice. Vivian and Curtis came over on Wednesday night for “breakfast for supper,” and we sincerely enjoyed quality time with them. Reagan was a hoot the whole time!
  • Becca’s grandparents came in from Biloxi, MS for a few days near the end of the week. We always have such a sweet time with them discussing books, travel, and all sorts of things. And we ALWAYS eat well. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them over the two years that we have been together, and they definitely enjoy loving on Reagan as well. It was good to see them again.
  • I’ve been so encouraged by some recent podcasts to which I’ve been listening. Being a loner in the Garden Center at Lowe’s during the last shift provides little time with customers, and more time for cleaning. Therefore, I find myself able to catch up on podcasts that I’ve been archiving for a later time. Thom Rainer’s “Rainer on Leadership” and Mike Harland’s “WorshipLife” podcasts have been extremely helpful to me in this time of transition. It provides a lot of practical learning for more seasoned minsters as I’m trying to understand the will of the Lord for our life in the Brasher home.

Losses

  • The cold I developed right as spring break began has yet to subside. It’s definitely better than it was, but present nonetheless. While the experience at FBC Covington was nice, my state of being was not up to par. I promised to give my very best, but I couldn’t guarantee that it would be 100%! I suppose it’s due to the daily Tennessee weather changes and my being outside at Lowe’s five nights a week. That’s direct exposure if there ever was any! I’m thankful for Vick’s vapor rub, Nyquil PM, and Robitussin in these moments.
  • Reagan has developed some frustrating traits over the last several weeks. First is hitting us/the babysitter/her grandparents when she is frustrated with something. The second is throwing her food either on the table or all over the floor when she is full or dissatisfied. We’re doing our best to try to cope with it and confront it directly. We’re also trying not to take it personally, but it is so difficult. Every time she does it, Becca and I simply have to take a breath, look at each other, and say, “Sin.”

Wins & Losses (March 4-10)

Sorry for my tardiness. Here’s a look back at the week that was…

Wins

  • The season of supply ministry began on Sunday (3/4) as I filled in for Tim Magill at First Baptist Church of Millington. This was the largest congregation I’ve ever led in worship, so I was a bit nervous going into it. However, everyone there was hospitable and kind and down to earth. The pianist was actually an old college friend from Union. I enjoyed myself so much and cherished the opportunity to direct a larger choir and 15-piece orchestra. I hope the opportunity comes again to lead there. It was a blast.
  • On Sunday evening, we were treated to a sweet fellowship from the folks at LEBC. The food and conversations were wonderful, and we were blessed by it. It was especially hard saying goodbye to some folks there, but we are grateful that in our day and age, we can still keep up with one another.
  • We enjoyed the penultimate show of the 2017-2018 Orpheum season with a Saturday matinee performance of Wicked. No matter how many times we see this show, it is new every single time. It featured a wonderful cast and talented orchestra. The seats Becca chose for our season tickets are sublime and we were glad to catch a performance of this excellent show.

Losses

  • I am thankful for a PT job in this season of uncertainty. But five nights a week from 6-11 paired with teaching can wear a body out. I found myself wanting to nap several times during my planning period…and perhaps during a few class periods because I was still tired from the night before. I suppose it just comes with it for now, and it’s only for a little while.
  • I came down with an awful cold on Saturday morning. By my assumptions, it showed up because of my constant being outside while working at Lowe’s. I experienced the weather change firsthand, and it showed with a runny nose, headache, and achy body. I had to endure it during the show on Saturday afternoon and my shift on Saturday night. The next day wasn’t much better. Let’s hope it finally passes in the next few days so I can enjoy the spring break without worrying about being sick.
  • Speaking of spring break, it was definitely time for a break at Southaven High. We were all ready for it. Exams and grades had to be completed, but it couldn’t have come sooner. Not having a break in February really did a number on us, so it was high time for a good break.

A Season of Waiting

This is a season of waiting in the Brasher household. Leaving a ministry position and not knowing where God will send us next was a HUGE step of faith for us. I’ve stepped out in faith before and God has come through. There is no rhyme or reason to think He wouldn’t do it again. But alas, waiting is still a factor here.

Just the other evening, I was sitting in the parking lot at Lowe’s waiting for my shift to start. I’d had a horrible day at work. Monday night was long at Lowe’s, and I was sleep-deprived. I hardly talked to any of my co-workers. I wanted to break down and cry several times. I ate lunch alone because I didn’t want to be around people. Apparently, I didn’t cover all this up very well because several co-workers noticed and asked questions. I was so mad and upset at the fact that I get 45 minutes with my wife and daughter a day before I jet off to Lowe’s to work from 6-11 pm. Becca and I had been talking throughout the day, and we tried to combat this situation together. I was still stand-offish at home and contemplated just driving around for an hour or two without even going into work…hence, quitting the job that I’d started two days earlier.

As I sat in that parking lot, I began to pray with the 7 minutes I had left. I reminded the Lord that we had committed to go anywhere He wanted to send me. Wherever He wanted me to serve in ministry, we would go. No questions asked.

Then I looked over to that big blue store with bright white letters…and forgot that this place was included in my commitment. It’s as if God responded with, “Are you actually committed, or only committed in the field you feel you’re best suited for?” Well that certainly changed the conversation. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of that sin, I was overcome with remorse. Here I was thinking I was something high and mighty because I stepped out in faith and I [thought I] was committed to going where He wanted my family to go. Going somewhere unfamiliar is a big step for me because I put down roots. Apparently, it’s time to put a few roots down in the Garden Center of Lowe’s for a little while.

Immediately after that prayer, conviction, and repentance, I was overcome with God’s peace. The shift went by much smoother than the night before and I was busy the whole time which made the time pass quicker. I received an email that further calmed my spirits and put that whole parking lot conversation into a greater perspective. It was a late night and I was tired when I got home (and let’s not even talk about Wednesday). But I definitely see how God is working in me through all of this. As I was reading my Bible yesterday, I came upon a psalm that perfectly frames this whole season of waiting for the Brashers.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

-Psalm 27:14

The Lord just keeps on proving Himself over and over. Faith and trust don’t come easy, but who said the Christian life was easy?

Wins & Losses (February 25-March 3)

Wins

  • Not sure if this would be considered a win or a loss, but we officially wrapped up our time at Leawood East on Wednesday night with choir rehearsal. It was a good one to end on, too. The choir was singing strongly and paid close attention to detail as we went along. I ended the evening by reading 1 Corinthians 2. This passage is Paul telling the church at Corinth that he came not with lofty words or wisdom, but to simply teach Christ and Him crucified. That was me message to them. While I hope they learned a little bit about music and congregational worship, the main thing was that they saw Jesus in everything we did. I certainly hope that was the case.
  • Thursday was a full day of music as the we traveled down to Tupelo High School for the MHSAA State Choral Performance Assessment. Southaven High and Horn Lake High did wonderfully and brought home some impressive scores. The performance space at THS was quite nice and their Kawai baby grand for accompaniment was in great shape (we won’t go into the details of the warm-up instrument). I spent a good portion of the day on the road, but it was definitely an enjoyable day since the rain had finally passed on.
  • I am thankful to God for providing me a part-time job at Lowe’s while we wait on His calling to another ministry. This obviously isn’t the ideal situation (closing 6 nights a week), but I am enjoying the Outdoor Lawn & Garden area, my co-workers, and the skills I’m learning.

Losses

  • I am thankful for a part-time job for this season of life; I really am. But Saturday found me in a concrete, window-less room watching training videos for SIX HOURS. It got old quickly, and I was happy to move to my location to begin on-the-job training. It was such a beautiful day outside and I hated not getting to enjoy it with Becca and Reagan.
  • You can definitely tell spring break is nigh at work. Patience is running short in the classroom and we all need a little bit of a break from routine. We’re doing our best to maintain sanity, but sometimes we just lose it! I’ll certainly be glad to leave work on Friday knowing I’ll greet Monday morning with no alarm.