I am here at Lee University literally at this moment, sitting in the Conn Center listening to the singers and band sound check for the chapel service that will start in about 30 minutes. So many memories… it has grown so much. The campus looks beautiful. They now have a Chick-Fil-A, Einstein Bagel and Dunkin Donuts on campus… nice. There are about 2000 more students now and they almost look like children. I mean little children. Was I this young? Ha – Well I’ve been back a couple of times to sing at Lee since I left. Once with TRUTH, then with Avalon and then on my own with the Lee Singers a couple of times. (Once a singer always a singer ! ) So I’ve been back before but it’s been a few years now. Every time I came back to Lee it was with excitement and a lot of nervousness because this is a MUSIC school. Well technically it’s a liberal arts university but this school is known for it’s music. So when I left school (with 22 hours left to graduate) to join the artist group TRUTH, it was a big deal to come back and sing for this school. When I was attending Lee, I went to see the Avalon/Crystal Lewis Gold Tour in the Conn Center. I was a huge fan. So years later when I joined that group, Avalon, and we went back to sing at Lee for a Sunday night Concert, it was a big deal for me. I was both nervous and excited to go back and share my ministry with this audience.
Now let me jump back to the present. I am not back at Lee to do a concert or even just to visit, I am back at Lee to finish my undergraduate degree. I have only 2 classes that I need to take on campus and I am doing that this fall. I come back very humbly now and with a slight smile on my face. This is not because I think it was a poor decision to leave Lee 12 years ago to pursue my dreams but because I realized I will now be the “old” student. This summer I turned 33 years old. I am calling this my “Jesus year”. I mean that in a very honoring way and again with a smile that Jesus’s 33rd year was very important and transformative for not only him but the world. So I am hoping this year for me will be both transformative and affect my “world” of influence. Now again, I know in the grand scheme of life that 33 is NOT OLD. I also want you to know that I, personally, celebrate my age. At this point I have welcomed each birthday and I feel very settled in who I am and what age I am. I am not scared of the aging or the process, in fact I welcome it. So I come humbly back to school because I came to the realization that this time when I return probably no ones knows much about Avalon, if they do I’m sure it will be “Oh you were in the group that was popular in the 90’s. My parents LOVE Avalon.” –Ladies and Gentlemen that was over a decade ago and wow I am facing the reality that I have lost my cool factor – as far as coolness goes with being an “Artist” or a “Contemporary Christian Artist” at that. So now I feel a little like Rodney Dangerfield in the movie BACK TO SCHOOL. I loved that movie (I should mention it’s rated R for all the right reasons) It also stars a young Robert Downey Jr., Sam Kinison and Sally Kellerman. Thornton Melon “Rodney” is going back to school to show some solidarity with his son, who is attending as well. Eventually, Thornton falls in love with a woman and with school again and also performs an incredible dive called the “triple lindy”. You should rent this movie. I feel a little like Thornton today, a little out of place but also expecting to fall in love with school, music and learning again.
Seriously I am really thankful to have the opportunity to finish. We had to introduce ourselves the first morning in class and tell what we planned on doing when we graduate. Most said go into ministry, teach, lead worship, play professionally, I decided to not mention what I have done or now do and decided to say after I graduate I will continue on to grad school. Which is honestly why I am doing this. I am planning on continuing school to earn my Masters of Divinity. So that’s the plan. So I appreciate your thoughts, any podcasts you recommend for my drive on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and gas money – ha. I appreciate my church, for allowing me the time to do this as well as honor my commitment as full time Pastor of Worship and Arts. I appreciate my family for our flexible schedules and grace for Mommy being gone once a week. I appreciate my mom, CiCi, for taking my place with my kids while I am gone.
So here I am. Ready to learn. Ready to be disciplined with my schedule, time, and commitments. Ready to be intentional to stretch myself and grow. Ready for all life has for me. I’m ready to go back to school.