Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A - Town (s)

I spent last week in Austin at the National Worship Leaders Conference. It was an interesting week. Looking back on it, I'm realizing that although the conference was somewhat helpful and thought provoking, the most beneficial activities of the week were the conversations that took place organically simply because people were gathered together in one place. The sessions, worship times and speakers were fine, but the most meaningful times for me happened in between the scheduled stuff.

I ran into Jeff Nelson and was able to catch up with him. It was meaningful and helpful and totally unplanned. Jeff has mentored, inspired and encouraged me through the years in ways that he doesn't even fully realize. I had no idea he was going to be there, but my time with him was rich.

During a lunch break one day, I met two young guys from Arizona and one from Houston who were very excited to be at the conference. I found myself in the role of the "older, more experienced" one in the group. Our conversation turned to the topic of marriage and fatherhood and I shared what little I know about that and then listened to them share their hearts and we encouraged each other.

Best of all, I stayed with my friend Allen Robertson, so at the end of every conference day I met with him and discussed everything from children's television to existentialism. Although he would deny it, Allen is a genius and one of my favorite people in the world. I'm honored to be his friend.

I returned home on Thursday evening and early Friday morning the whole family took a quick trip out to Abilene to see our dear friends the Fishers. Craig and I played golf while Beth Ann and Stephanie took the kids swimming. We had a cook out on Friday night and generally just relaxed and caught up on life. It was a wonderful ending to a busy week.

Rainey and Emily had a blast playing with Riley and Owen Fisher.

I guess what I'm saying is that life is about relationships. It's up to me to find life-giving people to spend time with and to do my best to be that kind of friend. I think that's the main reason God told us to meet together on a regular basis. He doesn't need our programs, but He knows we need each other. So we plan these gathering times and we fret about how they will come off and we have conferences to learn how to create better gathering times. The truth of the matter is we can only create the time and the space. The truly significant part happens organically. It did for me last week and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Catch Up

Okay, okay, I've dropped the ball on this blogging thing this summer. I'm sorry. Please allow me to explain and at the same time play catch up.

The girls returned home from a week in Idaho and that's when things kicked into high gear. My brother J. and I made a trip to Midland to visit our sister and her family and receive our Christmas gift from our brother-in-law, Tod. He treated us to a couple of rounds of golf at Midland Country Club and an outstanding steak dinner. He also proved what we already knew, that he and his son Reagan are my superiors on the golf course. That's my brother J., Reagan, Tod, Tod's brother Alan and me below.

The following weekend, I participated in the Zoe conference at North Davis Church of Christ in Arlington. It was fun to see so many familiar faces and to have the conference in our own backyard. DJ Bulls and the North Davis gang were outstanding hosts and we actually worked in a quick lunch with Brandon and Sheryl Thomas and their kids on Sunday. It was fun to watch our girls and Sam play together. Doesn't happen enough.

Immediately following Zoe, we left for Kidz Faith Camp. It was our churches first ever summer camp and it went really well thanks to Rhonda Cullum and countless others who volunteered their services. Our whole family participated.

Rainey was a camper. Here she is on her bunk. I don't think she slept much, but she had a great time.

Here she is with one of the teen counselor's, Shelby.

And with her sweet friend Iris.

We returned from camp in time to celebrate the 4th of July with family and friends. Steph and I ran in a 5K early that morning and then the girls joined us for a community pancake breakfast and parade in Trophy Club where our church is located. From there, we swam and grilled at Uncle J and Aunt Laurie's before heading out to watch fireworks.

The following week, we made what has become an annual trip to San Antonio to spend time with the Northside Church. This was the fourth summer they have invited us down to lead worship for them. The people there are always so welcoming and we always enjoy being with them. We also try to stay an extra day and have some family fun. This year we went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

The girls met Bugs and Daffy...

rode the trucks with dad (I had to pry myself in and out of that thing!)...

flew the planes and even rode the log ride and got soaked!

Rainey decided she wanted to ride some rides that Em wasn't big enough to ride, so Em flew solo for a little while.

Rainey driving mom around in style. From what I've been told by parents of older children, she'll be doing this for real soon enough.

I had to drive our car, but Emily had fun blowing the horn.

We saw two shows at the park that were both pretty good. They couldn't compare with the glory days of Six Flags in Arlington in the early '90's (right BST?), but they were fun. One was a '50's show and the other was a '70's show. Rainey (of course) LOVED them and was astonished to learn that the cast gets paid to do that.

After our fun time in S.A. we came home for four days of VBS at our church. The theme was the power of Jesus and we set up our building as a big power lab. Rainey had fun dressing up and coming up with crazy hair-do's everyday to be a mad scientist. Yes, we did joke about teaching kids to be Christian scientists...Tom Cruise and all that.

Emily's hair did not stand up like her sisters, but she had a great time at VBS too.

So, there you have it. Our summer so far. If you're still reading this, well, hello Mom. We're not slowing down yet, but the whole thing will culminate in a trip to Hawaii soon. Can't wait for that! Hope your summer is going well.