Sunday, September 25, 2011

Music Set | September 24/25

Here's the music set from September 24/25 at Constance Free Church //
All songs can be downloaded from the iTunes Music Store
You can also watch full-length worship services online (new services are added each Wednesday)!

Alive In Us | Hillsong Live | God Is Able album

Worship Set
With One Voice | watchword:truth | All Together album
Your Grace Is Enough | Matt Maher | Empty and Beautiful album
God Is Able | Hillsong Live | God Is Able album

We Crown You | Fee | Hope Rising album

This weekend we concluded our series "Experiencing Life Together." Pastor Randy shared another compelling message which challenged us to make sure that we are well-connected to the body of Christ and we finished our time together by participating in communion together. It was a symbolic and meaningful way to finish this series.

I have to tell you that I've thoroughly enjoyed Hillsong Live's new album, God Is Able. Through all of their years of development and subsequent musical experimentation, I've generally always appreciated Hillsong. But this project has a more-than-average amount of great new singable music and our church seems to have connected very well with both God Is Able and Alive In Us. Regarding those two songs, I specifically appreciate the perspective from which the songs are written and sung - they are anthems for the church to sing as the church. They use we/us language and remind us of how powerful it is for the Body of Christ to worship together.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of Another Chapter

Today was another one of life's milestones.  Early this morning, we had our final adoption post-placement visit with our social worker from Children's Home Society & Family Services.  It marked the "end" of our official relationship with CHSFS and though it was a completely normal visit, it was actually a very surreal experience.

As he sat in our home this morning and we talked all about Tate, my mind couldn't help but remember the beginning of this process.  The first time we met Ben, we knew that he would be an exceptionally good social worker and our suspicion was proved true over and over.  He helped us navigate through the complexities of the process, often calling to check in and see how we were doing.  Then one day, his voice on the other end of the phone line spoke the words that would permanently change our lives.  It was this time last year when he called to inform us that our long-awaited referral had finally come.

It's a little weird that this chapter has now concluded.  As he walked down the sidewalk back to his car, Tate smiled and waved while my eyes filled with tears and I realized how instrumental Ben had been to us.  We don't know him that well, but it's almost like he had become part of our family.  We'll miss his occasional calls and encouraging demeanor.

Now we continue into the next chapter ...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Music Set | September 17/18

Here's the music set from September 17/18 at Constance Free Church
All songs can be downloaded from the iTunes Music Store
You can also watch full-length worship services online (new services are added each Wednesday)!

All Together | watchword:truth | All Together album
Beautiful Jesus | Kristian Stanfill | Attention album
Come Together Now | Various Artists | Come Together Now single

Our worship gatherings were abbreviated this week due to The Great GIVE-Together which was an amazing experience.  Together with our entire church - across multiple venues and generations - we met our goal of packing 100,000 meals (which will be distributed in Somalia in partnership with Kids Against Hunger).  It was an absolutely amazing weekend!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Music Set | September 10/11

Here's the music set from September 10/11 at Constance Free Church //
All songs can be downloaded from the iTunes Music Store
You can also watch full-length worship services online (new services are added each Wednesday)!

This Is What We Believe | Aaron Shust | This Is What We Believe album
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All Together | watchword:truth | All Together album
God Is Able | Hillsong Live | God Is Able album
All To Us | Chris Tomlin | Passion: Here For You album
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Come Together Now | Various Artists | Come Together Now single

This weekend easily found it's way into my top 10 favorite weekend worship experiences at Constance Free Church.  I think it was a combination of the music, the team, the topic, the excitement of Fall kickoff, and a variety of other things.  Our closing song, Come Together Now, was certainly one of the more memorable music moments we've ever had.  We put together a large vocal team to sing this song as we received a special offering which will determine how many meals we can pack next week at The Great GIVE-Together (our goal was to raise enough money to pack 100,000 meals).  During the song, we also displayed a video piece that we produced utilizing footage of Pastor Randy's trip to The Congo, iconic images of children in need, and footage of other packing events with Kids Against Hunger.  Succinctly put - it was amazing and I won't soon forget it.

All month long, we've abandoned the use of any songs that use "I" or "Me" language and replaced them with those that use "We" or "Us" terms.  It's all part of our effort to communicate the importance of experiencing life TOGETHER as part of the body of Christ.  We value real, authentic community and hope that we'll all come to a greater understanding of what it means to BE the church rather than just going TO a church.

We also took the opportunity to introduce several members of our volunteer prayer team who led us in a meaningful time of prayer during three of our worship venues.  Part of experiencing life together is praying for one another and I was so blessed to have Samarra, Stu, Sheila, and Paul lead us as we asked God to deepen our love for Him and each other.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


September 9, 2010 - Angie and her good friend Tiffany were on their way to an orphan care and adoption conference in Nashville.  I was in the middle of a busy week getting ready for our big Fall kick-off at church.  At around 10:00 am (while I was working with Scott on some things in our church's auditorium) my phone rang and it was the call that would change our lives.

On the other end of the line, Angie's unusually inflected voice told me that Ben (our social worker) had called and wanted to know if we could be conferenced together for some "important news."  Somewhere in the middle of Illinois, the girls pulled off the highway into a Subway parking lot so that Angie and I could get some of the best news of our lives thus far.

During the conversation, Ben informed us thad we had received a referral - a beautiful little boy named Temesgen Abebe who (at the time) was five months old.  Ben shared as much information as was available regarding the little boy who would become our son.  Mostly were were in shock, but we had several questions.  Notably, "what now?"  He answered all of our questions, then sent us the long-awaited email with all of the information and this tiny little picture that will be forever etched in our minds.

Because Angie and I weren't together, she ran over to an adjacent hotel lobby where she could logon to wireless internet and download the referral information.  Even though we were hundreds of miles apart, we wanted to see his picture simultaneously and opened the email at the same time.  It was magical and the rest, as they say, is now history.

The first person I saw here at church was Scott (our Arts Ministry Associate) who gave me a big hug and congratulated me.  Then I made my way back toward the main lobby where I ran into Jill (our Children's Ministry Director and Angie's overseer).  When I exclaimed, "it's a BOY!" she screamed (loudly) which made Maria (our Connections Ministry Associate) come barreling around the corner to make sure everything was ok. Suffice it to say that news spread quickly and there was a lot of elation in those moments.

Angie and I spent a lot of time on the phone that weekend, processing through it all and dealing with the incredibly unusual emotions of having received the referral after SO long while laughing at the irony of it coming on one of the rare occasions when we're not together.  I can't even tell you how many tears of joy we shed that weekend.  I must have looked at his picture a thousand times and cried and cried and cried.

September 9, 2011 - Looking back on it now, it's all fairly surreal.  There's an amazing little boy living in our home that calls us "Mama" and "Daddeeeeeeeee."  He amazes us every day with all of the things he's learning.  He waves and blows kisses at Grandmas and Grandpas through FaceTime on our iPad and loves to dance any time music is playing.

It's fun to be a family.  Happy referralversary to us.

Music Set | September 3/4

Here's the music set from September 3/4 at Constance Free Church //
All songs (except Beautiful & Bold) can be downloaded from the iTunes Music Store

Beautiful & Bold | watchword:truth | Beautiful & Bold single
Our God | Chris Tomlin | Passion: Awakening album
Reign In Us | Starfield | I Will Go album
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Motion of Mercy | Francesca Battistelli | Hundred More Years