Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, March 28, 2005

This has been a busy week.
We had practices on Wednesday and Thursday, in addition to our normal Friday night practice. This meant that it Lisa and I would head home from work, eat something for dinner and then turn around and drive off to practice. Lisa stayed home Thursday night and took care of some errands she had to run. We spent the afternoon and most of the evening Saturday at my parents house.

Sunday morning we went to Highland View (the church I grew up in) to hear my father preach the sermon for the Sunrise Service, which was from 6:45 to 7:30am. It's always a treat to get to hear my father preach and it is one that I only get maybe twice a year (if that). After that service, Lisa and I drove home and got ready for the nursing home. The "Hour of Power" started off with "Brother Joe" walking through the room and tripping over his walker, which he was carrying. He fell to the floor hard and fell on his right arm. We paused to allow the nurses and attendants see to him and then after they had helped him back to his room we continued with the service. It's a frightening moment to see an older person fall and hurt themselves and not be able to help them in any other way than to pray for them. The rest of the service went well.

Lisa and I made it to St. Alphonsus Rock by 1:30. After people left the building (the last service ran a bit late), several of the male cast members began setting up the chairs for the stage area while the women began anointing the temple. Setup went fairly smoothly and we were all back in the back dressing by 2:45. The preparation seemed to be going smoothly, with people helping each other dress while singing and reading scriptures. We then headed out for a brief sound check around 3:15.

There were a handful of people already present in the building for the performance at this time, but we needed to do the sound check so we pressed on. There seemed to be several members of the cast who were timid or weak in the vocals during this sound check and so Michael urged us to sing out louder. After struggling with the monitor levels and house volumes, we proceeded back to the dressing area. We immediately prayed over the performance and what appeared to be specific obstacles already in our way. We discussed how fear had no place within our performance, because God's perfect Love drives out all fear.

We began the performance promptly at 4pm, with a friendly reminder from Michael's mother aiding in our timely beginning. In this particular rendition, my song came third or fourth, just prior to "Rocky Road". I struggled with finding a balance between the incredibly hot mic and the annoyingly loud monitor that was directly in front of me. I couldn't move too far to either side because my role demanded that I interact with members on each side of me at certain points in the song. So I felt kind of trapped between the blaring monitor, the super-hot mic and my castmates. The mic squealed a couple of times briefly, but overall I felt like my performance was good.

It quickly became apparent that something was going on up in the sound booth when Amanda's song was suddenly not played. When James began his song a measure early it seemed a bit odd. He recovered to begin again, struggling to retain the correct words. As he began the transition to the chorus it became apparent that the song playing was not the edited version which we had been practicing. It startled him, which is totally understandable, and we tried to help him cover it as best we could. He gathered his composure and finished the song strong. It was at this point that we didn't know what song was going to be next. Faith's song was skipped and we went straight into Tony's "He Ain't No King".

At intermission we figured out that the sound man was playing the wrong CD. After verifying that he had the correct CD for Act II, we were ready to begin again. All of sudden, the Overture from Act I began playing. We quickly sent Esther Ruth to set the sound man straight, all the while wondering what was going on. We pressed on through the remainder of the performance and people seemed to enjoy it and receive the message of it.

I never felt like we hit "the groove" at any point of this performance. Usually, there will be moments during a particular song when everything sounds great and it truly seems effortless to sing a song. Sometimes this "groove" will last through several songs and this is when the performance is totally amazing. It's those moments that we have to reach consistently in order to perform this to the best of our abilities and allow God to receive the praise He deserves.

Unfortunately, at St. Alphonsus Rock there didn't seem to be any of these moments. Praise God that He can use us in spite of ourselves, but it makes a performance a lot more hard work and less fulfilling in a way. We have a lot of preparation to do before our next performance at Jubilee this Sunday, not to mention the upcoming performance in Rolla.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Well, I have been asked by our director (Michael O'Hara) and his co-writer (Robert White Johnson) to travel down to Nashville next week for a recording session. It is my understanding that we will be laying down background vocals as well as solo tracks. It should be a very fun couple of days, filled with a ton of work to be done. I'm sure it will be vocally challenging, not to mention physically and mentally draining.

Meanwhile at practice we have been working on some of the staging a bit and have begun to introduce some more acting during several of the pivotal songs. As we rehearse these songs, the necessity of the actions become more apparent and the message is more visual. The staging compliments the message quite nicely while not stealing away from the lyrics being sung.

The next few weeks will be exciting and probably a bit stressful, but they will be totally exhilarating as well. The cast of the "Isle of Dreams" will be around town and on the road, performing at various churches, functions and then in the theatre on April 15th. I am excited about the many opportunities to minister and present this message, and I look forward to seeing what God is going to do for us, to us and through us.

Lisa and I are still walking through the process of buying the house. This past Saturday we had both the building inspector and termite inspector visit the house, and the results of those inspections were as good as can be expected. Naturally, there are things to be fixed/worked on, but there wasn't anything that was too huge of an obstacle to overcome. Yesterday we called and received a quote from our insurance company for home owner's insurance, and have set up an appointment to talk further with them tomorrow. We are also waiting to hear back from the mortgage broker today regarding the next steps in the loan process. One step at a time seems to be the motto of our lives at this point. It's a good life lesson, applicable to both an emotional standpoint as well as a spiritual one.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

The "Isle of Dreams" hit the road to share a little joy and kind of "plug" the upcoming April 15th performance. A group of 10 of us travelled down to Rolla, Missouri, to sing for pastor's association meeting. Considering that it is a gathering of the different denominations in and around the area to discuss issues that impact their city, it's a cool event in and of itself. The idea was that we would sing for 2o minutes or so and let them experience a little of what will be in the Leach Theatre that evening. If they wanted to promote us and invite their congregation afterwards would be completely up to them.

First we went to the Rechtien farm for a brief rest after our two hour car ride. Ma and Pa Rechtien are two of the most genuine, loving people you will ever meet. Their home emanates the welcoming attitude of Christian love, and you find yourself immediately at ease and relaxed. It's a gorgeous place in the country that we plan on returning to this summer to help with various projects around the site.

We arrived at the church prior to all of the other pastor's. Michael spent quite some time speaking about the "Isle of Dreams" with the editor-in-chief of the local paper, who had come at the invitation of the Rechtiens (after God allowed them to finally connect and set it up). The gentleman appeared to be very interested in the story or the musical and stayed aroudn to hear us sing. Michael then led our group to the sanctuary, where we held a brief communion service prior to performing. It's always a blessing to have a leader who makes time for such spiritual encounters in the midst of all the hectic scheduling that takes place from time to time.

We rejoined the pastors meeting and Pa Rachtien gave us an amazing introduction and, more importantly, he gave God the credit that He deserves for every aspect of the musical. After the intro, we took the front and performed "Listen to the Rain", "If You Had Only Been Here", "Rocky Road", Everybody is God's Child" and "Heaven". The pastors started out pretty uninspired by the first few songs (although there were a couple of notable exceptions), but by the end of our little set they all seemed to be enjoying the music and taking in the message.

We grabbed our stuff and made our way outside, where two pastors pulled Michael aside and asked us to come back down and sing at their churches, which we indeed look forward to doing when God allows. We made our way back to the Rechtien farm, where we praised God for what He had done and enjoyed our time together. One of the pastors came over the the farm after the meeting was over and shared lunch with us. Michael, being led of God, grabbed the performance cds and we sat in the front rrom by the fireplace and performed a larger selection from the musical. The visiting pastor was obviously in need of a time of blessing and revitalization and God allowed us to be the vessels of that process. It was a truly sweet and special time as we all basked in the Glory of God.

It's always amazing when God allows us to actively participate in being a blessing to someone else whiel still being filled and blessed ourselves. Truly, God is an all Powerful God, able to do whatever He deems necessary as He deems fit. I am blessed to be a part of a ministry that God has blessed, that blesses me daily and proves to be a blessing to others often.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Busy times here in the Walker household. Let's quickly recap the events of the past few days.

Tuesday, 01MAR05 - Lisa and I met up a mortgage broker to go over the many different financing options available to us. The broker not only talked to us about financing a home, but also the process of buying a home, what to look for and avoid and what costs are involved that we might have not considered yet (which we hadn't, because we didn't know about them). After spending almost two hours with Glenn, we left his office feeling well educated in the area of home financing and more comfortable with the idea of purchusing a home. If you need a mortage broker, I'd recommend Glenn in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, 02MAR05 - Lisa and I met up our realtor, Holly Hunter, for the first time. Since we had already met with Glenn, we skipped the initial meeting and went straight to looking at three houses. The first one had quite a bit of character and peaked our interest to a degree while the other two were ruled out for various reasons. We discussed the possibility of the first house and we were considering possibly pursuing it further.

Thursday, 03MAR05 - After work, Lisa and I swung by the location of the first house to see it and the nieghborhood in daylight. As we pull up I notice that the sign now has a portion that says "Under Contract" on it. The house had been on the market for almost a half a year, and the day after wee see it it goes under contract. Needless to say, we were a bit bummed by that.

Friday, 04MAR05 - Our realtor e-mailed us a hundred or so listings that were within our price range and areas of interest. So we sifted through them and picked out a handful of options and notified our realtor. We planned to meet on Sunday to go view possibilities for several hours. Before we could meet on Sunday, 3 of the houses went under contract or were sold.

Sunday, 06MAR05 - Lisa and I met up with Holly, our realtor, at 3:30 in the afternoon. We went to a neighborhood I know pretty well to see four different houses. The first one was a fixer-upper in the most literal sense. Every room would need either paint or carpet, along with other work just to be tolerable. It also didn't have a finished basement, which was a bonus we were hoping for. House number two proved to be much nicer and had a finished basement. House three was okay, but it had some things that didn't make Lisa and I want to buy it. House four was nice enough, but it's location (on a busy street corner) as well as a few structural things prevented us from wanting it. We left that subdivision to see a house in St. Peters. Before we set foot in the house we had ruled it out(rough neighborhood, ugly house, structural issues, etc). The interior only confirmed our initial supsicions, so we left in a hurry.

Lisa and I had talked on our way to this last house and had pretty much decided we liked house #2 the best. We realized that houses in that neighborhood we selling quickly, and this house had just gone on the market that day. In fact, we were the third people to see it. So we went back to the house to see it again and go through it a bit more detailed. After consulting with our realtor, we decided to offer a contract on the house. So we went back to the realtor's office and talked our way through the paperwork, finishing up the process two hours later.

Monday, 07MAR05 - Lisa and I were supposed to hear back from the seller by 6pm, so all day long I was checking my phone for message from Holly. At 3:30pm, she sent us a message stating that the seller had counter-offered, accepting our conditions and slightly lowering his price. Basically, he came down to below half the difference of what we had asked for, and Lisa and I thought that this was very acceptable. So we had Holly fax us the changes to sign off on, and we did so and faxed them back an hour later.

Since we have already been pre-approved for a loan amount that is greater than the cost of the house we are buying, financing should not pose any problems. It's just a matter of filling out all of the paperwork and jumping through the hoops. So, assuming that the building inspections go well this Saturday and nothing jumps out to cause any trouble, we should close on the house on April 18th.

That's right, Lisa and I will be homeowners by the middle of next month! We went from talking about maybe getting a home, to looking at homes online, to meeting with a mortagage broker, to meeting with a realtor, to physically looking at homes to offering a contract and signing the counter offer in less than a week! We physically looked at 8 homes total, taking a total of 5 hours over 2 days in viewing time to do it. Talk about things happening fast! We had prayed that God would open and close doors as He saw fit, and we saw several doors close before we even had a chance to look through them. Now, we are in the process of closing on a house that will make a great home and has plenty of room for us. God is so good!

Large House Photos & Smaller House Photos