Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Belated Birthdays and March Madness

Okay, so I'm not a great brother or a thoughtful Uncle. Thankfully, my family is understanding when it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament controlling my brain. And obviously I'm an expert at picking games (see last blog entry).

My sister Lee Ann had a birthday on March 11. She spent it in Nicaragua on a medical mission trip as a triage nurse. Lee Ann's oldest daughter is off to college next year, leaving three little brothers at home. I can only shake my head in disbelief when I consider the schedule my sister keeps. Just for grins she went back to school a couple of years ago and finished first in her nursing class. She is talented and beautiful and smart, but her children really are her crowning jewels and they are the most brilliant jewels one can imagine.

Lee Ann's child number three, my nephew Connor turned 13 on the 18th. Unlike his Uncle Stephen, he does know how to pick basketball games. He has a good chance of winning the bracket contest we are both in. Connor is smart and a great athlete and handles the difficult role of being in the middle of three brothers with aplomb. And let's be honest, it's not easy keeping up with school, sports and family responsibilities, all the while fighting off a significant group of female admirer's.

And finally, there is my oldest nephew Hutton. I'm actually getting this one in under the wire. Hutton turns 16 tomorrow. I've always felt a kinship with Hutton. Maybe it's because he was the first male addition to the next generation of our family. Maybe it's our shared affinity for the guitar and recently another shared musical activity, leading worship. Hutton was the Ring Bearer (or as he called it at the time, the "Ring Master") in our wedding. He actually inspired a song I wrote for the occasion called "We Can." Hutton is subtle. He can seem quiet sometimes, but pay attention, you don't want to miss what he has to say. He quietly goes about the business of being a great friend, a wonderful student-athlete and a good brother.

I'm thankful for my family and I'm very proud of them. The Bailey's are not big birthday celebrater's, but I do usually try to get a card in the mail. Thanks in advance for your forgiveness that I let that slide this year.

And Happy Birthday! I'm glad you were born!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

For the Record

If you have not visited this blog in a few days, please read yesterdays post about my friend Bill Rippy. I don't want you to see this latest post and miss that one.

However, March Madness is here and I know Bill was a huge basketball fan so for the record, your Final Four will be:

Florida vs. Pitt.

North Carolina vs. Memphis

Carolina over Florida (71-65) in the title game.

Enjoy the madness!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Billy Jack Rippy

Billy Jack Rippy.

Sounds like a character in an adventure novel doesn't it? Well, he was a character and he was full of adventure, but Billy Jack Rippy was not a work of fiction. Billy Jack Rippy was a friend of mine. He passed away last Thursday and I was honored to get to sing at his memorial service yesterday.

Because he was such a big supporter of youth sports when I was growing up, I saw his face everywhere when I was a kid. He coached, he volunteered, he cheered, jeered, encouraged and worked his tail off so kids like yours truly could experience the joy and drama and education one receives from playing sports. Looking back, I cannot imagine the hours he put in.

At some point when I was in high school I lost touch with him. A few years ago I walked into a room full of musicians and was recognized by Bill's wife Martha who plays the fiddle. The first time she and I shared the stage was the first time I saw Bill in nearly 20 years. When the gig was over, I stepped off the stage to greet my old friend. He saw me coming and yelled from across the theater in his uniquely gruff voice, "Boy, I didn't know you could sing like that!" Then he proceeded to put his arm around my shoulders, gather a crowd and brag about what a great basketball player I was. He remembered my playing days more favorably than I deserved, but I wasn't about to interrupt him.

I can't tell you how good that made me feel.

Just before the service started yesterday, I told that story to a friend of mine who was there to play bass. As people began to get up and tell their own "Billy" stories, I quickly realized they had all had similar experiences. They spoke lovingly about how Bill had made them feel so good about themselves. How he had cheered them up, cheered them on and then bragged about them to anyone who would listen.

Billy Jack Rippy: Lifter of chins, cheerleader to the underdog and chief trumpeter of other people's accomplishments.

Not a bad legacy, huh?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Zoe in Lubbock, Texas

Major props to everyone at the Monterey Church in Lubbock for an outstanding job of hosting the Zoe conference! Your love, graciousness, humor, hospitality, hard work and food were all appreciated!

One of the great things about being part of the Zoe conferences this year is that I get to spend time with my best buddy Brandon Scott Thomas and my new buddy Rich Smith. Those two men spur me on to love and good works (and make me laugh a lot too). It's such a blessing to experience the worship and teaching at the conference and then have people like Rich and Brandon to process it with.

Here is what God gave me this weekend:

1. God needs interruptible people. If I recognize His voice and stay open to holy interruptions, my priorities will be messed with. I may find out that pausing to have a simple conversation that God asks me to have might be the most important thing I do in a day filled with activities I thought were important. Be interruptible.

2. God is looking for lover's, not workers. Even hard workers may never love you, but lover's will do anything for you.

There were a lot of good things shared and some wonderful teachings presented, but that is what God had for me.

BTW, I met a few people in Lubbock who actually read this blog on occasion, including one of my 6th grade teachers, Craig Gray. Good to see you Coach Gray!