Showing posts from 2006


Clara said it all week. We made several attempts to see Happy feet at the theatres and finally succeeded at the IMAX yesterday. The movie was full of energy and life. The IMAX experience was amazing... as it always is. One thing jumped out at me. The fundamentalist, religious themes and the way the "elders" and the "old guard" utterly rejected the newcomers' ideas with no consideration. I know I am pushing it to look deeply into a family cartoon but I think the religious theme was there along with the "save the earth" undercurrent of the entire flick.

Strangely, watching this film reopened wounds created by Branch's baptist's "group of elders" 2 years ago now. The ideas of inclusion versus exclusion cut deeply then and remain in my heart now. Tolerance, compassion and the battle between a desire to seek new ways or entrench in the old are central to everything I do now. Even Alyssa, somehow made the subliminal connection to B…

Work Life Balance ;)

This past week or so was among the hardest and most rewarding weeks I remember in my life. I am physically and mentally exhausted, but I am proud of every moment. I shouldn't have been able to get through it, but I believe as I have many times in the past years that I was sustained by the Holy Spirit.

Things I want to remember someday
Christmas cantata at HRBC.. didn't love it, learned it, and the living part was beautiful.. as the drama connected with ours and the Hulin's life directly On Tuesday night in Lasker, Kathy read the beautiful testimony of Laurie's and we lived out the some of the story as it was presented in the cantata.

Natale 2006 was overwhelming emotionally, as Bel canto came together to sing beautifully for our first real concert. The simple elegant reading of Matt and Dana on the Weems poetry touched my soul.

Three kings there are come riding from afar.. from Navidad Nuestra is a powerful song that stays in my head. the infant wakes and when he smile…

State sponsored discrimination

Va votes to amend the constitution. Marriage is between a man and a woman... right..?  On the surface this seems like a good idea. When you look deeper it represents the further erosion of our rights and state sponsored discrimination.

People fear what they don't know or understand.

The new order of things is difficult to bring about and change (even a discussion of this magnitude) is always painful no matter the outcome. History and this last week in VA teaches us that populations find it easier to focus on differences and develop an enemy than to find combinality and work together towards a common goal.

This new "wave" of representatives will likely do no better than the last one. I am disheartened by much in our world today, but I take comfort in the fact that our system of gov't remains the most free on Earth. That said, we have so far to go... Democracy is messy and not perfect, but it is the best system out there for now...

Our leadership is on a rolle…

Carpe Diem

Yesterday I watched some of Good Will Hunting. Last week, I talked with a friend about my favorite movies... Dead Poet's Society was at the top of the list.

The struggle to find yourself and make a difference in the world is central to both. Being, doing, caring. all interesting things to talk about, but there are no real answers.

I was just watching some movie which supposedly quoted John Lennon. "Life is what happens to you when you are making plans" I didn't know the quote, but I do believe it.

Today was about just living in our world. We spent time with friends that we haven't really been close to in many years. He is preaching from 1 Peter 2:9-11 tomorrow, so that text is on my mind. When I read it, I include vs 13 because it seems relevant after this week in VA.

1 Peter 2:9-13 (The Message)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for …


Is accountability the "special sauce" of maturity and success. We all make good decisions and poor decisions.. the willingness to step up and own our decisions is how I evaluate myself and others. Honest accountability overcomes a great multitude of challenges...communications, ego, expertise. The list goes on.

Successful leaders have a trail of achievement... The achievements were done by many, but the accountability is both group and individual. Each person is responsible for their actions.

Leaders must be accountable for ALL and understand the burden they assume. Our society naively assumes that all must be leaders. Maybe this is so, and then again, maybe we are getting ourselves into so much trouble these days because we promote too many leaders.

"In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the h…


We all go through the world as partners in life yet partnering and unity in community is the most difficult thing in the world to achieve. I am watching the Blue and the Gray as I write this. It is a treatise on relationships and adversarial politics. The "artist" view of the greatest catastrophe in American history. We all know the story, but the sensitivity of the characters and the simple smiles and actions are what strike me as I watch now.

My world is in the middle of an election cycle. My church is divided in its approach to worship and ministry. My friends spend more time expecting of others than focusing on their own actions.

A house divided cannot succeed. No matter the house...

When I go to work in the mornings, I seek credit and accomplishment. I crave recognition and achievement. These things are not inherently bad, but the methods used to achieve them can be. I must find a way to partner with my entire world. That world, includes those I agree and disagree with..…

Someone Else

Last few weeks have blown by like the wind. As I go over the events of the days, I remember snippets. The Da Capo day at Midlothian days, leading the choir in JLM at HRBC, repetitive stress disorder as a result of the customer experience meetings, business meeting upon business meeting... If I were to judge the last month by any objective standards, I have been a success. I have conditioned my environment and set up levers to approximate control but it is an illusion. Only reacting is not controlling. As I go through the days, I am like a machine... I make decisions, talk with friends and family and I say the right things to get the job done. I am numb, the passion that was once so prevalent in everything I did is harder to find now. I am older, more experienced, more "mature", farther away from God. I am more self sufficient, more respectable, more established. I am successful. I love my wife and children, and I love the new things we are doing with Da Capo.

All that…

Good enough?

I have struggled this week to define for myself what is "good enough". I draw the line where I draw the line, but one thing is for certain. My line is not in the same place as others. I tell the kids frequently: "if something is worth doing, then it is worth doing right" but the question then comes... What is "right".

Are there different expectations of an amateur versus a professional? Clearly, there are, but all of the traditional measures are grey in my mind recently. The world defines a "professional" in many ways but the most prevalent one is... making money for doing it. My problem, is that I don't equate value to the activity from the money that it generates. Perhaps, that is a result of experiencing and seeing so much excellence in my life that has gone unrewarded. My friends and colleagues in the musical world, in science, in academia, are brilliant contributors to their world, but they don't receive money for their contri…


Bert's sermon at HRBC this morning was all about relationships, prayer and choice. He focused on relationship with God, but the rules extend far beyond that to other applications. Prayer enables communication which enables relationship. With relationships and communication, we learn about each other. We begin to care, our emotions take over and we become passionate. The roller coaster ride of every relationship begins...Some days are better than others. Some things easier than others. With those relationships, and emotion comes personal risk as well as opportunity.

We choose how to respond. We choose whether or not to trust in a power greater than us. We choose to believe the best in those around us or dwell on the worst. Choosing God is not about making the easy choice. It is about making the right choice. That choice brings the refining fire, the pruning of our person.. and the intense growth thereafter. The refiner's fire purifies and positions me for the future, but i…


I was told once by a close friend that all ministers are pleasers at heart. We desire to make others happiers and help to improve their life. So, if I believe all of us are called to ministry through our personal identities.. (helper, musician, carpenter, teacher, manager, leader, pastor, administrator, cleaner) then it stands to reason that ministry is one of those elemental forces like music that has ties into everything else that I do. We can all do it, but it should be a choice. We are ministers, the question is how we choose to act and what we do with who we are.

Doing versus being are very different things. I began a new small group this week with men I barely know.(participating, not leading) As we got to know one another, I shared about myself and then I asked them who they are. It was a difficult question for each of us. My natural inclination is to answer instead with what I do, not who I am.

I am a musician. I am a family man.

If I am confident in who I am then I can expl…


Last night was the "official" launch of the Da Capo institute in public. Our concert/open house was an inspiring event. It was our first musical mission statement to our community. We were transparent, we took risk, we put our self "out there" and showed our community what we are about. This event was an expression of loving and living. We as musicians shared who we are with "our" community. We have begun a mission to plug people into a musical world

The audience had some folks from HRBC and some close friends, but it was largely made up of people that we didn't know. It was exhilarating to make contacts with our community. People we didn't know were excited by our vision.

I wish more of my friends and neighbors from Roxshire, HRBC and Branch's had been able to attend. I know that it was a Friday night in Sept, but I think that it is hard for people who know us to make the leap to view us as performers. My sense is that they are overwhelmed and…

Fidelity in communication

The copy or iteration should be as close to the original as possible. This theme is central to a management course I am in this week on strategic leadership. The message from the top, must be the same one heard all the way down the chain. Wow, that is harder than anyone thinks.

Inject some passion and email.. and BLAM.. recipe for a nuclear explosion.

Danger Will Robinson !

Message.. if you can talk face to face, or on the phone ANY time emotion is involved even mildly.. DO IT! Don't take the lazy way out and use email. You will be sorry. I learned this a few years ago, but it sure is good to have it refreshed.

Intersection and Integration

I am the intersection and integration point for the biggest network I know. We spend our lives trying to build systems that create networks. We call it communicating and community. In the IT world, how well you handle the intersections and integration combined with scalability and reliability are the keys to your success. It is not so different with my "social" networks. Da Capo is a mechanism for me to reconnect and build new networks within a more localized geography, connecting specifically musicians.

hmmmm.. could be a lot of thinking here if I apply this social networking principle to my other networks as well. I will have to think on whether there is application in building other communities of practice. Monastic communities have a long history in our world. The trick is to keep the scale small enough to remain relevant and still maintain value without becoming exclusionary. There is a huge lesson in there for today's churches...

I don't always want to conn…


The last two weeks have been special for me. As Da Capo has become a reality, I have been continually inspired by friends, coworkers and community. God has renewed my spirit and my sense of call to ministry through leadership in a secular world. I am here to share God's word...for me defined in music AND scripture. (Bible, prayer, circumstances, church)

Some things that are special and that I want to remember.

* The quiet, intense devotion of my friend Charles and his unwavering spirit even when suffering the loss of his mother Laurie.
* The simple but elegant faith of Ricky.
* The divine inspiration of music as God's creation called out to me by the words of Rev. David Adkins at the Lasker Festival.
* The dedication and work ethic of my "new" friends on the faculty of Da Capo.
* The pure spirit of my children as they pray for their father to have a "good day"...It made a difference!
* God spoke to me through music that I would have normally "written off&q…

All Grown Up

I am thinking about the different expectations we have of children versus adults. This line of thinking invariably takes me to the idea of responsibility and accountability. Adults can still have fun, love, learn, live.. but they are bound by the controls of responsibility.

We are responsible(and accountable) to our children, our parents, our friends, our church, our community, our world. Responsibility incorporates knowledge, awareness and action. We are called to authentic, honest action. NOT LIP SERVICE.

- Lip service is lethal
Terry Green at Woodland Hts Baptist church preached on the parable of the two sons and it has remained with me through the week. Permeating everything I have done and all that I have said.

A recent scene from National Treasure strikes me... Nicolas cage reads from and interprets the Declaration of Independence...for his sidekick.. "We have the knowledge and the ability, therefore we have the responsibility to act and throw off the chains of oppress…

God speaks through HIS world

Martha Graham quote from Dance to the Piper; Agnes deMille, author

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium…the world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, or how valuable, or how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Da Capo Musical Message : August 2006

"Music has the ability to strike directly at your emotions. Beauty and passion are central to all of our lives. The ability to create beauty is inside each of us, it just requires some guided exploration and experience to find it and use it."
-Jeff Prillaman

Natasha Bedingfield- Artist
UnWritten – Album

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned


Breathe says the Lord

WOW.. Holy spirit spoke to me this morning through a song I have heard 50 times before..

For me personally.. lyrics from Anna Nalick song “Breathe(2am)” spoke to me on the work this morning..

This is where I am with Cap1, Da Capo, my life.. Thank you lord for my friends and family…

jeff says
2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, its no longer
inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to
And i feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to

Culture & the world around us says
Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now

Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe

Psalm 46

A Song of the Sons of Korah

1-3 God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthq…


As Tracee and I have been preparing for a recital in Lasker I have been reminded of how little discipline I have used in my musical preparation in past months.

In project management we have a term called the triple constraint. The variables are scope, schedule and resources. You can not change/affect one without affecting the other two in a material way.

As we practiced for our recital last night, and as I led the choir at HRBC this morning, it became clear to me that a balanced approach is required. The choir did a wonderful job this morning..they understood and embraced passion and applied themselves fully.. but the discipline was lacking. The congregation was not aware of the breakdown, but every member of the choir was...

Some of that was my fault, some was theirs.. regardless.. the end result was an immature but beautiful offering. Thankfully, that was enough. Our goal was not perfection, it was only to strive for greatness...

This line is difficult to walk.. Balancing inte…

Skin in the game

Ministry to affluence.. is hard.

Hypothesis: Affluent americans will commit only when they are forced to... in a currency/model that they are accustomed to... customer supplier model generates choice and control..

Volunteerism and traditional ministry models do not work to the larger affluent populations People will ask "whats in it for me" and their consumer approach will force constant turnover.. Community ministries and organizations must do a better job of what they offer.. People don't just accept anymore..

Da capo can provide ministry via music.. and accountability via cost and financial committment..


From Sunday school, to star wars, to talking with family and friends... Perspective has been central to my actions, thinking and work lately.
Who is right?
Who is broken physically, spiritually, or other?
Can God really be jealous if he is God?

When I am planning a negotiation or even a simple meeting/interaction, one of my favorite tools is to swap sides and try and react to myself.. I always seem to overreact..not sure that matters but it came to mind..

I realize how often I seek to manipulate engagements. Yes, I said manipulate, not manage or facilitate, or any other politically correct term. Funny joke lately has been that it is a good thing I am not evil. If I were, I could do serious damage. I may do damage even now, but I don't mean too.. Somehow that at least makes me feel better even if it doesn't make you feel better. I guess it depends which side you are on..

Psalm 51- The Message
Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my gu…

Service in the choir

I am going to present a short testimony at church on Sunday about what it means to serve in choir. What does it mean to me? Why do I go to rehearsals? Why am I proud to serve?

The answers are simple and easy. I am a musician. I am a singer. I am built to need to sing. But the reasons I sing in choir are more community based. I thrive on interactions with those other musicians. When I skip rehearsals, I miss the people and I miss making music with them. I am honored to give of my time to create beauty in our worship services. I pray that my service blesses those around me whether in the choir or in the congregation. I pray that God enjoys listening to me raise my voice in song.

I think we should sing because God asks us to. Music is a mystical force that touches the world on an elemental "God" level. Passion, energy, discipline, dedication, reverence, honor... they all play their part.

I wonder if I always sing because God wants me to, or if my performances are self servi…


My TBall team of 5 year olds lost today because they didn't hustle on a few key plays. Overall the game was a bit frustrating because we played well. Our team made some throws, did a good job fielding, and showed heart. It just wasn't enough to get the "W". Hustling is something that adults understand. Kids don't get it at 5 years old. More importantly, they don't understand that you have to hustle EVERY time.. not just a few..

Go with your gut

How do I know what to do? I am put into hundreds of decision situations every day. For most there is a rational, reasonable approach. When it comes to seeking a prize, running a race, racing to win... The discipline and hard work are important, but in the end it always come down to "heart". I succeed by knowing the rules so that I can understand when they don't apply. This is dangerous ground, I know.. but it is my reality. I lead my family based on rational, reasonable approaches but more often than not, there is no clear decision based on reason or numbers.. I have to go with my gut.
My faith that God is in control and not me is all that gets me through. I know it is clich├ęd but I really don't know how non-believers get through their days without going insane. I don't trust myself that much.

Maybe my gut, is inspiration.. The trick then is to be sure of the source.. is it God or Satan.. both answers are possible.. Again I go with my gut... and

Proverbs 3:…

Organized to succeed

Wow, it has been almost 2 months since my last post.. While I would like to say that I have been too busy... The real reason is that I wasn't inspired to write much. I, just like the rest of the world was focused on "other" priorities. I find that I can usually accomplish exactly what I set out to accomplish. The past few months, I was accomplishing things other than writing...

Past few weeks have brought a lot of change to my daily activities. The need for structure in my work has been paramount as pressured increase and the sheer number of people depending on me has increased. The cycle that I was using for communications and governance wasn't working... I talked with a friend this past week, made changes accomodating his suggestions and now things feel like they are under control. Quite simply, I adjusted my control mechanisms to handle a different level of delegation and allow for more flexibility within my new structure. I reorganized for success. I will s…


Today I am home resting in preparation for a recital in PA. I just finished watching a show called Iconoclasts where Robert Redford and Paul Newman visit and talk for about 45 minutes about what it means to be "them". I am inspired by the humble spirit presented there. They are nearing the end of their journey on this world, and they seem to have learned what it was and is all about. Discussion returns constantly to doing something, making a difference in the world and their world. Both have turned success in one vein into opportunities to grow and succeed in other veins. Seems like a model I would aspire to follow.

A few themes jumped out at me..
1. The need for balance in life between work, play, identity, purpose...
2. Devotion to something other than themselves, without sacrificing themselves...
3. Acceptance of what the world thinks about them, but not allowing the world to define them or their actions...
4. Realization that they are blessed.. no way to explain why... a…


For months now, I have been using this word... I intend it to mean that my team has to be completely open and honest with our customers business in order to build the trust necessary to bridge our coming workload without self destructing. We are beginning to reap the rewards as our customers now believe us, trust us, and want to work with us, even when I have to deliver bad news.

On the family and church fronts.. I don't very many people that I am really transparent with...Even fewer that I believe are tranparent with me. Somehow, somewhere, we all learned to put up these facades so that all appears well, even if it is not. I read an email devotional from John Fischer that was profound...below is an excerpt..

" How much of being a Christian and going to church is all about appearances? Too much, at least in my experience. Too many of us act as if it were our responsibility to make God look good by showing ourselves as shiny happy people. In the end, we make God look bad, bec…

Assignment Encouragement

Sunday, I received a SS homework assigment: Write 3-4 sentences of encouragement in email.. using a favorite scripture verse.

God is in control of my world. I spend my days preserving the illusion that I control actions and results around me. In spite of my arrogance, my God loves me and maintains his plans to prosper me. I love the Lord.. that is what it is all about.

3 verses came immediately to mind supporting my writing:

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,…


For us at Cap One, it is the dreaded annual review time of year. For the last 2 months, the entire world has appeared to focus on what everyone around us thinks. Our corporate culture is built on "feedback". This is a great idea on the surface. It may even be a required element to avoid the unfair treatment of incompetent management(at least legally that is). The downside, is that it doesn't work. I am talking about shades of grey for differences so the process is not worth it.

Personal success is still predicated on subjective assessments of my management. Without the support of a manager, success and grown cannot be achieved. The 360 feedback cycle is so generalized that it becomes largely unimportant. People (myself included) simply can't remember what happened all year. We are lucky if we remember the last month in the fast paced environment of today's corporate world.

The almighty "TEAM" is often talked about and largely unrewarded. Incentive…

Circle of Excellence

My last 24 hours have been spent pondering the concept of excellence. I think a definition for me must include passion tempered with discipline which generates results recognized by both the performer and the audience. The olympians are a classic example but my questions arise, because it is possibly so simple.. Excellence is judged by results. Is a gold medalist..excellent solely by the definition that they have the medal... For me, I think that there is something missing..

A modernist, post industrial revolution reading would say that excellence is generated when a defined set of critera combine to create an output which is then excellent. The post-modernist in me thinks that the end result cannot be the goal. The journey is the key to excellence.

The artist in me reminds the world, that great music is alive, that great performances(the excellent ones) have a life all their own. Performing at the top of my game presents an excellent moment. To participate in circle of excel…


Today is President's day and in honor of the great leaders of all time, I thought I would capture my thoughts about what it means to lead. More importantly, what it means to be effective. I just watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica and a comment , Admiral Adama made struck me... "Command is about people, not about the systems"

I have had numerous opportunities to lead in my 35 years, but I have never been in "command" anywhere except in my own family. It strikes me, that to lead my family, I have to completely sacrifice my self for us. From the outside, the onlooker might speculate that command becomes about self, when in reality, the opposite is true. From the inside, the discipline provided by strong leadership is comforting. The leaders' sacrifice seems to be a key factor. Perception of the leader from the outside is generally irrelevant, until it becomes a factor in the population being lead. Politics are important, but they must follow the pur…


Today is the year anniversary of the personnel committee ambush at Branch's. I am past it.. but I'll never be past it. I miss leading others in worship. I miss the regular study and preparation necessary to lead adults as they grow musically and spiritually.

The events of my "review" linger in my mind like a sick nightmare. I trusted those men on the personnel committee. I looked to them for guidance. I didn't agree on many things with them, but we all wanted the best for the church. I trusted Bob to look out for me even though he was an "interim". My pain is linked inextricably to the betrayal and utter disregard of me and my family. I deserved more. We deserved better.

The self serving sickness that runs rampant through our society manifests even stronger in the church. Inside a church, a rash desire for power and control generates the idea that a "goal" can be achieved. The ends cannot justify the means in this case.

I am a hypocrit. …


I had LASIK done on both of my eyes last week. For me this was a life altering event. I do not have the words to properly express the magnitude of the change, yet to the majority of my friends, coworkers, etc.. I appear the same to them. I have worn contacts for 25 they don't see the change, but for me, everything is changed.

My viewpoint on the world is now altered forever, yet I appear the same to others. That is a profound statement for me that resonates with thoughts around faith and ministry in so many areas. When I became a Christian so long ago, the same thing happened. I am not sure my 6 yr old persona really fully understood it, but the simple act of declaration was enough. The growth part has come after all of that.

My faith and belief system are now and must remain rooted in my experience, knowledge and most of all in my personal relationship with God. Those around me cannot see the difference in me, unless I act and show them. I cannot tell them, becau…

Out in the cold

It is so easy to cocoon ourselves in our own little protected worlds and not pay attention to what is going on around us. It is easy to say, I am taking care of myself and my family.. I can't be worried about others. They can take care of themselves. This morning, the girls put the dogs outside, then "allegedly" told their brother to let them inside when it was time. As you might imagine, the dogs ended up in the cold for a long time. The finger pointing began.. he said, she said... he was supposed to, she was supposed to... Even with all of the talking, the main result was that the dogs had been left out in the cold simply out of carelessness.

I can't fix the world, I can't even help my entire neighborhood or workplace, but I can make an effort to reach out every day and be caring about others. I can endeavor to follow through with my actions and responsibilities. I can make others' needs as important as mine in my skewed prioritization matrix that helps …