Hey, Siestas! I’m so glad to talk to you today! I’ve wanted to get on here since the moment I sat down on the plane to head home from Atlanta but I had a lesson to get ready and had to wait. However, I am so glad that my delay gave AJ the opportunity to blog because she used the word “inhairitance” and it is quite possible I have never loved her more.
OK, I had the best time. The only thing that would have made it better is getting to see every last one of you at the Siesta luncheon. The Southern Siestas (what they called themselves) were so cute! All sorts of different ages and types! I just love that. And how about Melana sending Miesta Moose with his little suit case since she couldn’t join us? That right there, Girlfriends, is why your Mama loves you so. You make me laugh and you make me love Jesus more. That is the highest praise I can give a soul on this earth.
That forty-eight hours in Atlanta were so packed that I can’t give you a play by play in the limited time I have. Instead, I am going to give you 10 highlights (I love that word. It reminds me of my inhairitance) in no particular order of priority. There were so many other things I’d mention if I had time. It was delightful from beginning to end.
1. Seeing Melissa and Colin in baggage claim after I arrived. It was a Saturday morning so she was just in jeans and a t-shirt. She had her bangs straight back in a barrette and looked about 15 years old. And, Lord have mercy, I love that man of hers. He is the sweetest thing ever. We had a quick lunch together then headed to the blessed madness. Melissa worked her tail off all weekend assisting her mom. I am so grateful to her. She never knew it was a weekend.
2. Walking into the sanctuary at the beautiful FBC Woodstock for dress rehearsal late Saturday afternoon. The 300-voice choir was already in the loft and the stage was all set and the lighting perfected and I just kinda had a moment. I knew we were about to be part of something BIG. And I was overwhelmed by God’s gracious goodness to my buddy Travis. We make so much fun of each other and are rarely serious about one another but it hit me between the eyes that moment how really special the dude is. I mean, I’ve known it for 10 years but sometimes you just have a surreal moment where you’re stricken by the extraordinary. I also thought to myself, it’s too bad the boy doesn’t have any friends. When I tell you that his friends rallied, I am not kidding. He honestly has more BFFs than any person in the universe besides Jesus…and sometimes, like when he gets to tape in a place like Abbey Road studios in London, I think he may be Jesus’s BFF.
3. Seeing my whole praise team and many of my other LPL team members who I love so dearly like Paige (she runs women’s events at LifeWay), Rich and Gretchen (she had the cutest new hair cut!), Stephen (the world’s greatest graphics guy) and Nate and Shelly (she’s one of our young and very gifted Siestas. I love her and her man like crazy. They get married in two and a half weeks. Not a moment too soon based on the way they look at each other. That’s all I’m saying). Seeing my beloved Angela Cottrell and also Boomama (Sophie) AND HER MAN and Bigmama (Melanie, whose man is always hunting like mine). I LOVE THEM!
4. Working with Max Lucado. He is such a great guy. Delightful to be around. Very approachable. You’d like him just as much as you think you would. He and I did these little vignettes at various times in the worship experience. You’re going to love what he shared. (For those of you who were there and are totally confused at this point, Max could only be there on Saturday night so his vignettes were taped at dress rehearsal. Two of my segments at the actual event were fill-ins for his. He will be a big part of the DVD.)
5. OK, brace yourself because this one is a huge one: Heading over to the Governor’s Mansion after dress rehearsal where Melissa and I had been invited to have dinner and…are you still with me here?…SPEND THE NIGHT. Yes. A slumber party at the Governor’s Mansion. (Not one word of this has a danged thing to do with politics. I want you to know something about a brother and sister in Christ who happen to hold political office.) Our time in that home was something I will never forget as long as I live. I knew Governor Perdue and Georgia’s First Lady, Mary, really loved Jesus because…
a) I’d heard that, particularly in reference to the prayers over Georgia for the drought a year or so ago, and
b) Mrs. Perdue had come to our Deeper Still event in Atlanta and I could clearly see she was a real, live follower of Jesus and not a nominal Christian looking to make political points with constituents.
You’ll find this little bit of Siesta trivia interesting: Mrs. Perdue and our very own Georgia Jan are very, very good friends. Family friends for decades. Georgia Jan is simply one of the most delightful people you will ever meet in your entire life. She is laugh-your-head-off hilarious. So witty. Digs Jesus like crazy. She was our big connection there and, of course, was at dinner and also spent the night (and the next) there at the mansion. By the way, Georgia Jan’s husband can’t remember the name “Siesta” for us for anything. He calls us the “Salsas.” It made me so happy. We’re a pretty salsy group of God-loving Siestas if you ask me.
We had the most marvelous dinner. Mrs. Perdue (I did call her by her first name face-to-face but I can’t bring myself to do it in print) asked her two beautiful daughters, Lee and Laura, to join us and Lee’s twin 9-year-old daughters, Mary Kate and Sunni, were our extra delights at the table. If you know me well, you know I love little girls! Especially pre-adolescents! They were the cutest things ever. They later took us on a tour of the mansion and, oh, if you could have seen the historical place through their eyes, you would have loved it! The Governor was so gracious to us that he won me forever. He helped clear plates and all sorts of things but where he had me was in his attentiveness to his bride of 36 years. The whole time we sat and chatted after dinner, he had his left arm propped on the back of her chair and he played with the back of her hair. They are flat out in love. It did a heart good.
Would you believe I got to sleep in the president’s suite??? That morning I woke up and said out loud with my head still on the pillow, “Good morning, Lord. It’s me. I’m here in the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta and I’m in the president’s suite in case you’re having trouble finding me. I know I seem a bit out of place…” And the Lord and I laughed.
PS. Georgia Jan, I’ve nearly hurt myself on that Gevalia Coffee. Ordered 4 pounds when I got home.
6. Church with Melissa and Colin. We went to Buckhead Church where they attend and the whole experience left me bug-eyed. Melissa is friends with their worship leader, Carlos, and his darling wife, Heather, and I loved meeting them so much. They have been so gracious to make her and her man feel welcome so far from home. Carlos is a fabulous worship leader. The congregation was fabulous, too, but, all in all, they stayed remarkably calm while I, on the other hand, was just about ready to run a lap. I had Melissa on my right (blocking the aisle. Actually I don’t really take laps but sometimes I wish I could) and one of my other favorite people on earth, Janet Reeves, on my left. (She’s one of the best things that God has ever done in Jesse Reeves’ life. He’s a big part of the Chris Tomlin Band – bass player, vocals, co-writer – and I love him like crazy, too.) I do not have words big enough for my reaction to Andy Stanley. He is simply one of the most extraordinarily gifted communicators I have ever seen in my life. I was nearly slack-jawed. And, yes, I’ve heard him before but it hits me every time. His message on giving is still rolling around in my head and making me itch to get the checkbook and give some money away. Haven’t had a chance to talk to my man about it but I will.
Dang, I’m running out of time! Meeting at 12:00! Speeding up!
7. Surprising the Southern Siestas at the end of their lunch on Sunday afternoon. They were so much fun! I know I already mentioned it but it was too good not to make part of my ten!
8. Meeting Shaun Groves. Good grief. He’s just so cool and so passionate about the work of Jesus that it’s stupid. (I mean stupid in that really wonderful way.) Meeting Cindy Morgan. She is the tiniest thing you’ve ever seen with one of the biggest gifts God has entrusted to a song writer/vocalist in our generation. Trav had been on the Christmas tour with both of them this year and loves them so much. I certainly could see why.
9. The worship experience itself. It is TREMENDOUS. I can’t wait for it to come out on CD and DVD. You will love the music and it will most definitely do it’s job. Girlfriends, you will be led to worship.
10. Angela Cruz leading out on the Mercy Seat song (can’t remember but I think it may officially be called “Running”. I don’t know. I’m so dumb). The whole sanctuary was nearly overwrought with the Spirit. I’m not kidding. It was so powerful, it was nearly painful. Travis transitioned the song into “Lord Have Mercy” and I nearly had to hit the floor. I felt like God was literally pouring out mercy upon us like a torrent. It was a moment in corporate worship that I may never forget.
Well, that’s my run down and I left so much out! I also don’t have time to edit. I’m just gonna have to pitch it out there as it is! I love you guys so much and wished every one of you were with us. This is my way of hoping you’ll feel just a tad like you were.