There is a first time for everything

Even in my thirties, well actually, especially in my thirties, it is thrilling to get to do something for the first time. This was one of those experiences for me. On Sunday, I was asked to sing the “anthem” song for the traditional service. I chose the song “Forever Reign” written by Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan. I felt like this was an opportunity for me to play a very simple accompaniment at the piano and sing from my heart. So, I did. I feel really blessed to have had this opportunity to play and sing. It was a real humbling and wonderful experience for me. I have been amazingly blessed throughout my entire life to be able to sing with some of the most talented and gifted pianists around. So, honestly, it is hardly ever necessary for me to play for myself. But, I enjoyed it and hope you will too. Moustapha (my husband) recorded it from the balcony.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Christmas Eve with the Els! What a day! It turned out great, but it was one busy, hectic day, especially for El Momma!
When you are the momma you are expected to do certain things. At least, in this house. And, I’m okay with that. I am considered a “stay at home” momma. And, I’m good with that title too. In addition to the many jobs that title brings with it, I am blessed to have another job as a worship leader at a loving church in West U and with that job comes a lot of work around the holidays. Great work! But, work, none-the-less. Leading up to the days before Christmas, I led worship the first 2 Sundays of Advent, participated in two  Lessons and Carols Services on the 4th Sunday of Advent, led worship Christmas Eve during our 5pm Family Service, led worship the first Sunday after Christmas AND my husband sang a song “Manger Throne” as part of the sermon series throughout all of Advent. And, we had a sit-down dinner party for the band at our house plus a ton of rehearsals to prepare for all of the services. The Els were amazing through it all. They almost always have to come early with me to services. And, for the most part, they were great! So, back one of the things I am “expected” to do: shopping, that’s the big one for Christmas. I think a lot about gifts. I like to get people things they will really like and use. I don’t know if I’m totally successful with that. But, my heart is in the right place. Somehow, some way, we managed to get all of the gifts for family in time for Christmas, except for one that was guaranteed for Christmas Eve delivery to Sugar Land and is still floating around somewhere in Stafford. But, other than that, I did my job! I don’t even know how I did it. In fact at 1:40pm Christmas Eve, just 1 hour and 20 minutes before I was supposed to arrive with my entire family to church for sound check and rehearsal, I was still inside Mega Marshalls. This was right when they announced over the load speaker that they were “probably going to lose power at 2pm for about 30 minutes.” Aaaaah! That is one way to cause panic and make everyone in the store rush to the front. What a nightmare. And, really, I was just trying to grab a new dress or something that would actually fit my “I have a 5 month old baby” body. So, after that, I managed to get home, help get everyone dressed for church and get myself dressed and then we made it to church only 15 minutes after sound check was supposed to begin. Luckily, the Youth Band (which I am lucky enough to direct) started their sound check without me. The service was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. And, it was nearly perfect. I was a little stressed during Silent Night when no one came to light the candles of the band members and the lights didn’t go out in the sanctuary. But, in the great scheme of things, that really is not a big deal. And, I believe that wasn’t important to God at the time, or it would have happened. So, I’ve had to let that little imperfection go and know that our praises to Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit were perfect on Christmas Eve, even without candles in the dark!
After the service, we made our way to Moustapha’s parents’ house to have Christmas Eve dinner and a celebration with the family. We didn’t make it in time for dinner. We probably would have been closer to dinner time, if it wasn’t for the horrific rain storm we traveled through. We’re lucky to have made it at all. And, after we finally made it inside, somehow I didn’t burst into tears. But, I promise, I came very close!
Moustapha and I enjoyed dinner and soon everyone gathered in the living room to open presents: Moustapha’s parents, all three of his sisters, their families including five more children and all of us found a place to sit. Two of our nephews had ear infections and were running fever. Thankfully, they are all better now. But, that was really hard on them and their parents. We spent the rest of the night opening gifts, relaxing and talking with family.

 The Els in front of the Christmas tree.

 Leeland and his new froggy!

 Aunt Leila with Leeland at dinner.

 Maddux with Toy Story toys!

 Oooooooooooooooooh, a tricycle!

 Grandma and Jiddy

 Christopher and Aunt Amira

 My first Christmas


By the time we arrived home, Trinity was asleep and Bakri and Maddux stayed up to put cookies and milk out for Santa. It wasn’t long before they were dreaming too. Mommy and Daddy’s work was still not done. We had to really get ready for Santa! But, soon, we were fast asleep and before we knew it, the Els were waking us up ready to start Christmas Day!

Before the Throne

When I Think About the Lord
Your Grace is Enough

How Great is Our God
Before the Throne of God Above
Take My Life

Here are the songs we did this morning during praise and worship at St. Andrew’s. I had to take care of Trinity during the sermon and missed the entire thing. I did receive the Word from the songs this morning though. Especially- Before the Throne- “Hallelujah. Hallelujah. praise the One, risen Son of God.” It is such a beautiful and thought-provoking song. To really come before the throne of God with all that we are. That is something that I am striving to do. Come as I am, as imperfect as that is. He still loves me and I am fearfully and wonderfully made in Him. praise God for that! Amen? 🙂

Hope you are having a great Sunday and know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made too!

A Special Day- Trinity’s Baptism

Trinity was baptized at our church on Sunday. It was such a special day for all of us. The children were all invited to the front for Worship as a Child- their normal children’s message time. Which probably confused our boys a little. So, they ended up sitting on the stairs (for like a second) before getting up to entertain. Our friend Eliza, who is also an Elder at the church and she sings with me too, introduced us and Trinity.

Then, it was time for the entertainment to begin….”hit it, Bakri!” Oh wait, maybe now isn’t the time to jump from the stairs and do a little baptism dance. But, his little show did get quite a few laughs…And then, Daddy took the boys by the hand. Notice perfect Trinity in all of the photos. She didn’t cry or make a peep. And it’s funny how happy Moustapha and I look. I guess we’re just enjoying it. You know, kids will be kids. And life is too short to worry about the little things. I am really glad we are at this point and that we got there together. It is a great thing!
Moustapha read Isaiah 40:28-31 to Trinity and became emotional, which of course made all of us emotional. It was very touching. What a sweet daddy.

Trinity went to Pastor Jeff with ease. Here he is preparing the water.

He placed the water on her head and she immediately put his hand in her mouth. She is getting her first two teeth, so why not find something to chew on? That was another moment that got a lot of laughter from the congregation.
After the baptism, Pastor Jeff walked Trinity down the aisle and we all followed. The entire congregation moved to the center and extended their hands to pray for her and our family. What an incredible experience.
Grandma and her sweet Granddaughter, Trinity.

Looking quite serious.

After the service, she was really ready for her nap. So, it was almost impossible to get a happy look from her.

Here are her 2 granddads (Jiddy and Grandfather) looking at her with such adoration. Can’t you see it?Our family of five. Everybody was cooperating in this picture except Daddy!

The whole family! (at least all the family that was in town) Another picture of the family.

Our angel girl.
We were still trying to get a smile. It just didn’t work. So, she thought she would chew on her bible.

On our way out, she gave a quick smile to Michael and Patricia and their family.

And then, she fell asleep. She’s just about to close her eyes in this next photo.
At home, we had a little lunch to celebrate. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the table. But, here is the menu on our kitchen chalkboard. Moustapha gave me new chalk pens and I am in love with changing out the messages. It is so fun!
Me and Miss T. Check out the double holophane light in the kitchen. I’ll post an update about that soon with before and after pics. But, I’ll just say quickly that Moustapha did an AMAZING job restoring it, wiring it and hanging it. He can seriously do ANYTHING!

Trinity’s cake, which matched her invitation.
Trinity and Grandmother. Trinity has just started putting her thumb in her mouth. She isn’t sucking it, but I think she may be feeling her top gums for some new teeth.
Happy Trinity with Grandfather.

Our friends Jamil and Carter came to the lunch with their 2 girls. Here’s a picture of us with the babies. I love how each baby is looking at the other baby’s mommy. So sweet.

Jiddy on an international call and somehow baby Trinity stayed asleep.

Trinity smiling with Grandmother.The boys all love Trinity.

Christian came over to give her a hug and a kiss and tell her “goodbye.” He is such a sweet little boy.

Thank you for looking at our pictures and story from T’s baptism day. It means a lot to be able to share these special times with you our family and friends. God bless you.

My new job….

So, I have a new job as a worship leader at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in West University. It is really an amazing journey we’ve been on for the last several years to get to this place. I don’t know if this will make sense, but the place we are in right now is a moving place. We’re moving forward in the direction and on the path that God has for us. It has just been an amazing adventure so far…and I wanted to share it with you.
As most of you know, I’ve been singing all of my life. And in church, I was always singing growing up. Once I went to college and then to LA, I was still active in the churches I attended, but never in music. When Moustapha and I were led to First Pres in early 2004, things were soon in transition there and they were searching for a new worship leader for their contemporary service. They found that leader in August of 2005. – Our friend Jasen and his new wife Amanda (I think they were married the first week he started the job) came to Texas from California and he began his job as the new worship leader of the service. Once he arrived, I was put in touch with him. I met him in his office one afternoon, he played guitar, sang a familiar tune and I sang harmony. It was great! And he asked me to sing that Sunday. I pretty much had the opportunity to sing praise and worship with them every weekend for 2 years. (until Amanda & Jasen hooked it out of here and headed back to California :0) It was so amazing. And I was really happy with that. One thing that I really learned from Jasen, was being open to the gifts and talents of others. It was because of this openness, that I was given the chance to lead songs. I really can’t thank him enough. I love working with other singers and musicians. It is such a gift to be able to be a part of worship in this way.

For the past year and a half I have been singing at various non-profit events in Houston and at church events. I’ve also led the worship for a couple of women’s retreats. But, I haven’t had a steady- every weekend- worship leading job. I didn’t even know where to look for one…and so it turns out, it was looking for me.

This past Summer. we visited St. Andrew’s. We planned our visit around vacation bible school, since we were going to send Bakri there. A couple of weeks later, I received an email from the pastor about leading worship for their contemporary service. He had heard about my experience at First Pres. So, we had coffee and I met with some of the other church leaders. A couple of months later, I led their services for 7 weeks while they were searching to fill the position. And now, I am leading there 2-3 times a month on a more permanent basis.

As a worship leader, I work with the band and choose music for each service, that I then lead the congregation in singing.

Here are Last Sunday’s songs:
opening song: Sweetly Broken
worship songs :Jesus Paid It All

Take My Life
offering: Prayer of St. Francis

This Sunday’s songs:
opening song: Lord, Reign in Me
worship songs: Your Grace is Enough
Prayer of St. Francis
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
communion: Lamb of God
offering: When I Think About the Lord