Monday, April 28, 2008

Whirlwind

Last Sunday, Josh had a birthday party (a month early cuz he wanted to have one final bash with his Bay Area buddies) at Jump Sky High in Santa Clara. Anyway, 15 minutes into jumping, he flipped and came down wrong on his leg. It was all swollen up, and he couldn't walk on it. We didn't know what to do... We're "between" insurance companies right now. Thanks to John Dearborn, faithful Sunday Night guitarist and friend, we were able to get into his office in Fremont for some free x-rays and medical advice. Long story short, Josh has a fractured patella. (Translation: He broke his kneecap.) We ended up getting the wrong brace on Monday, so we got a new one on Tuesday. When we went for our follow-up x-ray on Friday, John said we still had the wrong kind of brace, so we went on a frantic tour of Fremont at 4pm on a Friday. There is absolutely no reason anyone had to help us, but Ken Rasmussen, of Fremont Artificial Limb and Brace, gave us the last hour of his day and a $500 brace for only $75. We are so grateful to both John and Ken. God is totally providing for us as we continue to put our trust in Him. Now Josh can get around a lot better, although he has to keep his knee totally immobilized, totally straight, for four weeks. Pray for his sanity and ours. :)

It was a week of goodbyes. Last dinners (and lunches and breakfasts) with good friends. Tuesday night, Gary, Tony and Brian took me out for an evening of memories and great food. It was so good to be with awesome friends, reflecting on all God has done in the last eight years.

Friday was loading day. Luanne and I picked up the monster U-Haul at 7am, and loading began at 10. We are so grateful to all who helped... some for just an hour or two, and some until the bitter end. Thanks to Tim & Kathy Sandquist, Gerry Skinner, Tony Gapastione, Brian Rhen, Jeff Smith, Terry Boudreau, Lorraine Tondino, Steve Bryan, Hannah Sandquist and Lindy Douglas, who was there first in the morning and left last, after attending the Roy Cloud Talent Show with us that night.

On Saturday, we finished loading the truck, again with lots of help from generous friends, and - after a prayer of blessing from John Tondino, hugs and kisses and tears - we were off. After seven hours in the moving van, we arrived in Simi Valley. Luanne's dad, her brother, Dominic, and Bruce Bruns, pastor of Simi Covenant Church, met us at our storage facility and helped us unload. We barely got it all in.

A highlight for us on Saturday was finally meeting our new nephew, Nicholas... Dominic & Lisa's baby. He joins his big, 3-year-old brother, Anthony. Little Nico is 12 weeks old, and he is awesome. The kids were excited to meet their new cousin.

Today has been all about getting settled, even though we have a lot of work still to do. Luanne and I built a loft for the kids (we have all four kids - and a hamster and a bearded dragon - in one bedroom). We cleaned out the moving van, visited the storage facility, started putting clothes away, found the cell phone chargers (very important!) and stuff like that all day... It's 12:37am as I type this, and I should be in bed... I'll get there as soon as I post.

This week will be another full one. Luanne will be meeting with people from the Simi Public School District to get the kids going on their home study programs. I fly to Redwood City Monday afternoon, and then Ugur and I are driving up to Zephyr Point (Lake Tahoe) for the Mt. Hermon staff retreat. I'm the worship leader and Mark Labberton (pastor of First Pres Berkeley and author of The Dangerous Act of Worship) is speaking. Then Thursday afternoon we'll get back into RWC and I'll say my final goodbyes and drive our Corolla down to Simi.

As far as the job/career/vocation side of things go... It's strange to be unemployed. I am looking forward to a bit of a rest here, but it can't last long. I will say that there's a very interesting possibility on the horizon. We may be heading to the Seattle area for the summer. I'll keep you posted.

We are grateful for your interest, your love and your support. Please continue to pray for us when you think of us, and please stay in touch!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PCC in Pictures

Uploaded a bunch of "PCC memories" photos to my Facebook. If you're on Facebook, come be my friend and take a look. If not, you can click on the links below and view the galleries. You won't be able to see or leave comments, but you can see the pix!

PCC Memories 1
PCC Memories 2
PCC Memories 3
PCC Memories 4

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PSWC

Thursday night I'll be leading worship at the Pacific Southwest Conference's Annual Celebration in Fremont. I get to work with some great musicians and friends, and I'm looking forward to it. It's been a real challenge to get it all together, but now that it's almost here, I'm sure we're going to be just fine. You get a bunch of ministry-types in a room together to worship God... and then you remember that God is REALLY there... the living Christ right there with us, empowering us, inspiring us, challenging us, binding us together, encouraging us... It will be awesome. It always is. I am always really grateful for the Covenant and the Pacific Southwest Conference when I attend these things, and as I've had the privilege to lead more and more, it's been really cool to see how it all comes together.

Makes me wonder whether I'll be in the Covenant 6 months from now... I certainly hope so, but I know that God is at work outside the Cov too! Thy will be done...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Brief Reflections on an Amazing Send-Off

Thursday night's bash at the Little Fox Theatre was amazing. As it unfolded... as so many good friends showed up, as we shared great food and drink, as we worshipped God in song together, as people sang and played their songs and shared their encouraging words, as the PCC choir played their goofy kazoos and sang a beautiful benediction, as the Sunday At 6 Band prayed over me and as the Matt Nightingale Band played one final set... Somewhere in there I realized, This is exactly what I wanted.

It just doesn't get better than that. I think heaven's going to be like that. Mike and Nicole Hoefer, you rock, and I thank God for you. Thanks for the vision and the energy and the time and for pulling this off. I am so grateful. And thanks to everyone who sang and played and spoke and brought food and gave $ to help pay for the venue. I am honored and humbled by your love and your generosity.

Check out my Picasa album below:


Little Fox Farewell Party/Concert

Monday Worship Connection 4/14/08

Good Morning, Worshippers!

It's Monday morning, and I am still jobless. Funny how that works. You quit a job and then you're out of work!

One of the things I did every Monday when I was at PCC was to send an email to all of the worship ministry people... ushers, band members, choir, ambience people, etc. I called it the "Monday Worship Connection" and it was intended to get everyone on the same page... to let people know when practices were, who was in the band that week, what song the choir was preparing, who was on for connecting and so on. I also used it to remind us all that we all are worshippers of God in our daily lives... in our jobs, our families, our schools... and that we could choose to live as worshippers. That it was not only about singing or coming "to church" but that we ARE the church, wherever we are. Sometimes it turned into a chance to preach or share some kind of spiritual insight. Sometimes it was short and sometimes really long.

I miss writing to the worshippers of PCC. I no longer have to coordinate everything and everyone, and that's kind of nice... I've needed a rest for a long time... BUT I miss the connection. I used to open each week with "Good Morning, Worshippers!" and close with

"Much love and many thanks,

Matt"

Friday, April 4, 2008

Songwriting

I guess I'm a songwriter, although I don't like to identify myself as one right up front. I've written a few songs, and I'm really proud of some of them. Some of them, like "God of All Light" and "New Every Morning," have actually found a place in the worship language of our faith community and in the greater denomination. It's such an honor... such a humbling experience, too... to hear people singing a song that I wrote and know that it means something to them or somehow helps them to connect to God in a significant way.

I even have a radio hit. :) "Always Entertaining Me (The La-La Song)" has had quite an interesting life... It's been played on several radio stations, made #1 on Indieheaven.com's charts and, apparently, impressed these people. (Wha??) You know, I think it has a great hook that will stay with you for days. But as much as you might love it for the first few hours, you'll be wanting to pull out your hair after a while.

I am not prolific. Ryan Adams or Joseph Arthur are cranking out three albums a year, and I might write one song in three months. The craft of songwriting is difficult for me. I am not a disciplined songwriter. I have no particular method. My best songs have come in one sitting... usually within 15-20 minutes... and I tend to have no patience for a song that I have to work on over time. It's all or nothing with me.

Maybe that's why I am in awe of people who can really write a song: Joni Mitchell, Derek Webb, Karen Peris of the innocence mission, Linford Detweiler & Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine, Suzanne Vega, Sufjan Stevens. I hang on these peoples' words. I savor them like fine wine. I really listen to them, because I know that they have something profound to say, and they will say it in a unique way. They will surprise me. They will take my breath away.

For me, songwriting has always been a gift. And I'm working on a new song right now... Maybe I'll surprise some of you with it sometime soon... Problem is, it didn't come in ten minutes and I'm having to actually work on it. Sheesh.

Cool blog... Suzanne Vega, Andrew Bird, Darrell Brown and Rosanne Cash are blogging for the NY Times about songwriting. I really love what they've had to say so far. It's so great to have a little glimpse into the process of writing a song. Check it out here.

Different Topic... Thanks to the generosity of Carl Touhey and Dave Bartoshuk, Jake and I are up in Tahoe at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. It's amazing. Snowboarding, movies, great food, a pool and hot tub... The Winter Olympics were held here in 1960. It's just an amazing place.

And amazing that I have absolutely nothing to worry about for Sunday. I won't even be home until Sunday night. Skipping church! Amazing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For the Sake of the Call

When I was in college I sang in and then directed a traveling music group called Sound Investment. We had a lot of fun, ministered to thousands of people, and learned a lot about ourselves and relationships with one another. One of the songs we used to cover was Steven Curtis Chapman's "For the Sake of the Call." I was thinking about its lyrics today. Who knew 15 years ago how applicable they would be to my life today?

*********************************
Nobody stood and applauded them
So they knew from the start
This road would not lead to fame
All they really knew for sure was Jesus had called to them
He said "Come follow me" and they came
With reckless abandon they came

Empty nets lying there at the waters edge
Told a story that few could believe and none could explain
How some crazy fishermen agreed to go where Jesus led
With no thought for what they would gain
For Jesus had called them by name and they answered

We will abandon it all for the sake of the call
No other reason at all but the sake of the call
Wholly devoted to live and to die
For the sake of the call

Drawn like the rivers are drawn to the sea
No turning back, for the water cannot help but flow
Once we hear the Savior's call we'll follow wherever he leads
Because of the love he has shown
And because he has called us to go we will answer

We will abandon it all for the sake of the call
No other reason at all but the sake of the call
Wholly devoted to live and to die

Not for the sake of a creed or a cause
Not for a dream or a promise
Simply because it is Jesus who calls
And if we believe we'll obey

We will abandon it all for the sake of the call
No other reason at all but the sake of the call
Wholly devoted to live and to die
For the sake of the call

*********************************

Funny, when I was 21 I thought I knew what that song was all about.

::EDIT::

I realize I may sound like some big martyr here or something. "Oh look at me... I'm so obedient and godly..." The cool thing, and what I want to emphasize is that this is not about ME at all, but about the call of the Lord. And Luanne and I have found that God made it so clear... so obvious to us in so many ways over the last year... that we couldn't say NO any more! Believe me, I tried. Every time the idea of leaving PCC would come into my head, I would immediately shut it down... But God gently and persistently and compellingly continued to nudge and prod and woo... until it became intolerable to stay. So while I *did* take a big leap of faith, and while we *are* in the middle of some real uncertainty, we finally feel some relief. We feel at peace knowing that God is the one who has called us out and is calling us into something new.
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