Monday, May 25, 2009

Random Thoughts on This Memorial Day

My emotional worlds are colliding this Memorial Day.

Connor (that's him in the brown stripes just days before the accident that took his life) has been gone for two years and the grief still sneaks up on us. I lost it last week during a Law & Order re-run of all things. I tear up when I hear about a kid getting their drivers permit because Connor should be taking drivers ed. this year and picking out an old truck to drive. We traveled to Midland on Friday and drove past the final resting place of his body as tears ran down my cheeks. I know it's not his final resting place, but it hurts just the same.

And yet...

We were in Midland for his brother Hutton's graduation. He's the one in the gown posing with just a few of his adoring cousins. Tears of great joy fill my eyes now and pride wells up in my heart as I consider the man Hutton has become. What a blessing to be able to truly celebrate his accomplishments, but more than that, to thank God for the obvious things He's doing in Hutton's life. He has felt pain more deeply and dealt with tragedy more personally than most, but he has learned to lean on God and modeled faith in ways to which I can only aspire.


Stephanie and I are celebrating 13 years of marriage today! Lucky 13 had its ups and downs but we held on to each other and realize how blessed we are even when difficult times come along. Steph's love, loyalty and tenacity for doing the right thing even when it's the most difficult thing are the reasons I love her. The girls and I couldn't be more richly blessed!


I'm also mindful of those to whom this day is really dedicated; people who are remembering loved ones lost in long ago battles and in the wars that continue to rage on today. I pray for peace and that the devastation's wrought by war will only be known by my children's children from what they read in history books.
Grace and Peace to you today.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Power of the Blessing

I recently left a ministry position after 5 years at a church. My wife and I felt for many reasons that it was time to begin a new season of life. We felt good about how God had used us and I had been led to believe by the leadership and congregation that I had done a good job. So I felt confident about both the timing of our departure and that we had served well. We also did our best to leave in a manner that would cause as little disruption as possible and believe we were able to accomplish that too.

All that, coupled with the fact that I consider myself to be a fairly well adjusted and self-confident person, should have added up to a peaceful exit. But it didn't. The week after my last Sunday I was filled with self doubt and a spirit of heaviness. Transitions are always uncomfortable but I wanted the peace that I thought would come with finishing well and following what I believed was God's will. I was really struggling.

Then last week we got a call from some good friends inviting us out to dinner. They said they just wanted to tell us how much they appreciated what God did through us at the church. After dinner they invited us to their home for dessert. When we arrived at their house we were SURPRISED by about 30 others from church who were there with gifts, cards and best of all, a time of rich blessing for us!

I honestly do not have the words to express the power of those blessings. It was as if God spoke directly to us through those beautiful friends and we left that night feeling as though a weight had been lifted! It was one of the sweetest times I've ever experienced. I admit that after the initial surprise (and we were honestly surprised) I felt a little embarrassed at the attention and the fact that I'd been feeling sorry for myself for the last week. But the Spirit quickly said, "Receive this!" And we did. We listened carefully and drank in those prayers and blessings.

What an important lesson this was for me! Being on the receiving end of those powerful blessings reminded me how important it is to bless others; to mark time and acknowledge good works by celebrating on a regular basis. Because the simple truth is blessings are how God releases people into His next plans for them. You can make that step without receiving a blessing, but it's exponentially more difficult.

Thank you to all those who blessed us that night and to others who couldn't be there but sent cards. We felt your blessings too. Now go and speak the blessings of the Lord over others with words and deeds and when someone blesses you with a simple thank you or a favor or a gift, "Receive it!"

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Back Roads Band

I'm singing with a new band these days called the Back Roads Band. The band has been around for awhile, I'm just the new guy. We play everything from Eagles to James Taylor to Beatles, Vince Gill, Rolling Stones and .38 Special. We are available for private parties and weddings, but we are actually playing a public gig this Saturday night at Reposados in Colleyville -

We are supposed to start around 8:00, so if you're in the D/FW area come check us out. I promise we'll have a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. John

I've been around long enough now to have lost a sense of perspective about the passing of time. Things that happened 15 years ago seem like yesterday and yesterday could have happened 15 minutes ago. I can only assume that the more years you have under your belt, the worse this becomes.

On Sunday I heard a story about a divorced woman who had been married in 1983 and I thought to myself, "She's already divorced? Marriage must not have lasted long." Turns out her sad separation came after 24 years of marriage. It's just that 1983 doesn't sound like it was that long ago.

I say that to say this: 74 years ago today my father was born. Now, 74 used to sound old to me, but now that Dad has reached it, it doesn't seem old at all. On the other hand, it doesn't seem possible for him to be that age either.

To say he's "healthy" may be misleading, but he is most certainly strong in muscle, common sense and will; three things he's been as long as I've known him. His joints hurt a little more, but he travels to far off worlds on a regular basis and works harder than anyone I know. His hair has turned white, but his mind is still sharp and curious. He's seen a lot of things, but he manages to keep things in perspective.

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating. I have two or three men whom I run to for advice on a consistent basis. They serve as my "spiritual fathers" if you will. As I look around my own circle of influence I'm reminded that not everyone has people like that in their lives. And those who count their biological fathers as one of those advisers are fewer still.

I'm proud to wear his name. I'm thankful to be his son. I love the way he loves my wife and my children. I appreciate his desire for me to learn from his successes and his mistakes. I only hope I can serve and influence a fraction of the number of people he has served and influenced.

And of course I pray that my children turn out as good as his have ; )

I love you Dad.

Happy Birthday, Dr. John.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Some things never change. I spoke with my High School Choir director today. It's been over 20 years since Ron McCommas and I have seen each other and probably 17 since we've spoken. But when he answered his phone today my mind was flooded with memories. His smooth baritone voice sounds exactly the same.

Ron is at least partly to blame for my love affair with music. His belief in my talents and his encouragement and guidance at a crucial time in my life gave me the desire and confidence to follow a musical path that I'm still traveling today. I'm thankful for him and so many others who took the time and sacrificed their energy to help mold me.

And then there are those inevitable changes. For those of you who may not have heard, I am resigning from my ministry position at the Lake Cities Church. April 26th will mark 5 years of ministry there and serve as our last Sunday at Lake Cities. I like the symmetry of that - 5 years nearly to the day.

God has been faithful and spoken clearly during those years. He said go and we went, now He's saying it's time for our family to begin a new season of life and we are excited about the possibilities. Please keep us in your prayers as we make this transition. Perhaps we'll even see some of you as we plan to take advantage of the freedom to take some weekend get aways.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend and remember He is Risen and He is sovereign!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sweet and Sour Birthday

As usual, Stephanie awoke before me this morning and went for a run. I didn't even notice. However, about a half an hour later I realized someone else had crawled into my bed and was cuddled up very close to me.

You must understand that Rainey, my 7 year old daughter is my snuggler. She'll lay on the couch with me or sit on my lap and talk, read or watch TV. Her little sister Emily simply doesn't have the patience for it. Most of the time a quick hug or even a high five as she passes by is all I can hope for.

This morning however, I felt her small, warm body and cold feet next to me. Then I smelled that smell that all parents know and only parents can appreciate. It was the sweet and sour breath of a small child. Emily is only a couple of months past her third birthday. She has yet to develop the morning breath of an adult or even a 7 year old. I opened my eyes to find myself face to face with my beautiful little girl. Immediately, I felt confident that no matter what the rest of the day held, I'd already experienced its highlight.

This date in history however, will not be remembered for tender moments between a father and a daughter. No, April 2 is marked by events of much greater significance. Today my friends, is my mothers birthday.

If you've never met my mom, then I can only tell you that any attempt to describe her in this format would be wasted. It would take volumes or at least a lengthy talk over a good meal to even begin to get a sense of her essence. Now, she would disagree with me about this and argue that she is really a very simple person. But there is complexity in what she calls simple. Those of you who do know my mom can attest to this fact.

Let's just say that I am incredibly blessed to have been raised by this woman and to now count her among my friends and trusted advisers.

Happy birthday Rose. Consider this your child arising and calling you blessed!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This and That

Do you ever get so far behind on a project that it becomes a joke? The partially built shed in your backyard that just becomes part of the landscape? Or the boxes in your garage that you fully intend to clean out, but over time you simply add more boxes to the pile?

That's how I feel about this blog. Every time I start to write on it I feel overwhelmed because so much has happened since my last entry. Over time then, I've simply fallen out of the habit of adding to it.

Here are some highlights I've not blogged about that would have made brilliant entries:

1. Emily turned three in January.
2. Stephanie and I had a cold, but fun time at the lake with the Fisher's and the Doggett's.
3. Rainey starred in her class production of the Little Red Hen and sang beautifully in the school talent show -
4. The whole family got sick at the same time and argued about who was well enough to take care of the others. In the process, I missed the Zoe conference in Fresno.
5. Rainey and I boogied down at not one, but two Valentine's dances.
6. Steph's mom came down for a visit while Steph concentrated on interviewing for a full time teaching position at TCU. She was offered the position and starts in the Fall!
7. I'm doing some consulting and contract work for a couple of different companies and I'm the new lead singer for the Back Roads Band.
8. I participated in the Lubbock Zoe conference.
9. My niece Bailey is at Oxford this semester and my sister and her family went to visit and spent time in Ireland and London. I stayed home and pouted and felt jealous.
10. My oldest niece Jordan became engaged to a wonderful young man who also happens to be a very gifted musician. His name is Sam which makes me smile because it is the name of some of my favorite people.

I'm sure I'm leaving out a hundred things, but at least I feel a sense of catching up. I'll try to be a bit more consistent from now on with this blogging thing. However, blog sabbaticals are probably not a bad idea.