Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back in the Saddle

i returned last night from spending 6 very full days with people i absolutely love. Christmas was wonderful, a special one that will stand out in my memories. some quick peaks of the week:

-2 rounds of golf with the Blair boys (don't worry, we won't be turning pro any time soon).
-half a day in the peaceful setting of my aunt and uncle's ranch.
-not really eating distinct "meals" but instead perusing through the ample selection of holiday food in the kitchen between football games or naps.
-watching my 2-year-old cousin Lily "shake it."
-Christmas morning service at University alongside both my real family and my spiritual family.
-the UYG reunion party--SO much fun.
-spending time with Madison.
-doing a lot of nothing.

hooray for holidays! though it was really hard to leave my family in Abilene yesterday, having a community of people here who love me makes it eaier to make the drive back. i want to expound more on these special people but am pretty tired right now so it will have to wait. take hope, share it, and be blessed today.
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pic of the day, Madison:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 people

happy birthday mize...i used two of your pictures today...i love this one...
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there is so much that can be said about loving people. more than can be listed or understood. i've heard Jesus' words many times before concerning the greatest commands, to love God and love your neighbor. last month i was reading through the sermon on the mount when i got stuck on the part where Christ talks about murder. in short, Jesus basically said not to hate people and before you offer your gift you should settle matters with your brother (pretty interesting take on murder). a simple message, but one with profound implication.

it was then that something clicked, and i began to really understand and see that Jesus was way more concerned about people than anything else. he was always talking to them, walking with them, eating, fishing, traveling, praying with people. his ministry was people, not planning services or checking off regulations. and his message, his life, was love. and his love for people was specific and beautiful. a kind word to a beggar, or new life for a little girl. truth spoken to a woman caught in sin, or even mud placed gently on blind eyes. words of compassion and hope, an example of selflessness and sacrifice.

i know this isn't anything ground breaking here, but i can't begin to describe all the ways this realization has refreshed my life in the past month. i've felt energized and more committed to love people.

everywhere you look there's people to love. a waitress at chili's, the check-out person at wal-mart, the guy running on the treadmill at the gym, the family in the trailer park down the street. something i've learned is that it's never wrong to love someone. expressing God's love to people is what we were created to do. love changes lives.

Lord, fill me with your love so that i may love people the way Jesus did, constantly and completely.
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i'm going home today to be with my family. merry Christmas...
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pic of the day, little sweeties from Smena:

Monday, December 19, 2005

love God...

happy birthday yesterday to clay, today to zach, and anniversary tomorrow to austin and cass!
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the greatest commandment. number one. top of the totem pole. the all encompassing point of my life. to love God...

as i stated early i am becoming obsessed with the concept of love. but how do i love someone/something that is the living definition of love? someone/thing that is enormously bigger than the love i am expressing? a really smart dude once said that the easiest thing in the world to do is to love God, and i suppose there are times when i agree with this. but on the other hand sometimes i've wondered just how easy it is, because it doesn't always feel super easy.

what i do know is this. i know that i was created with the capacity to love Him, otherwise he wouldn't command it. i know that the only thing i want to do, and do well, is love. i know that the deepest desires of my heart have to do with pleasing my Creator, with passionately and even foolishly loving my Father in heaven.

and when i begin to ponder and dwell in His love; the love that He constantly pours into my life; then my task evolves into something more. the greatest command becomes pure and almost effortless. not some burden but a force pushing my life ahead. but a natural response to the greatest form of love in existence--God's love for me.

and that's why i think the key to loving God is to first accept, truly accept and know, his love for me. for his love compels and empowers me to love him back and to keep loving him regardless of my circumstance.
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pic of the day, work shoes:

Thursday, December 15, 2005

different strokes, for different folks

i had a wonderful pre-holiday vacation. friday night got to see brent, linds, rosalyn, mize and zach graduate. after the ceremony everyone and their parents convened on the perry's house. it was so refreshing to be in the company of people i love and am loved by. i drank 3 cups of wassle...mmm, yummy. oh, and brent and linds got engaged that night too! i am very happy for them and can't wait for the wedding weekend!

skiing was fantastic, with our last day (monday) being the best day on the slopes i've ever experienced. cool place to stay (hopefully pics to come soon), the beautiful san jaun mountains, some funny guys, and ample time to relax and reflect--a great escape for me. i've got a couple of good stories and pics that i'll share soon. oh, and i did randomly run into some fellow wildcats at wolf creek--josh lankford (with his family) and alex "axel" rose (scary, i know).
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it was great to be with my kids last night at church. they give me so much energy and i love the relationship we have. hugs, funny stories, random comments, and laughter highlighted the night. several of our former GCOCers were home from college last night which was great. i'm looking forward to spending time with these lovely people over their break.

last night after church Chad and i went to see King Kong. it was super intense and exceeded my expectations--in a word, awesome. warning though, there are some scenes with giant "bugs" that made sink down low in my seat and cover my eyes. i HATE bugs, but props to pete jackson for the chair-gripping special effects, unbelievable.
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pic of the day (i'm so tough):

Friday, December 09, 2005


tonight clay and i will be in Abilene to watch some very special friends (Rosalyn, Mize, Linds, Brent, Zach, Bingo, etc) graduate--hooray!

then tomorrow we're leaving for Wolf Creek with Kyle, Zach, JB, Adam, Alex, and Lucas to ski for a few days!!! i'm SO excited and will share some pics when we return...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


i have to share this. every week a minister from my home congregation sends out an email of prayer requests. not to make light of any other prayer requests, but these are special. they are special because they come from poor and hurting people in the world. those marginalized by society. people who are homeless, on welfare, have been imprisoned, substance abusers, and so on. they are people, like you and me, who are looking for answers, longing for hope, and desiring love. every week these requests (transcribed as originally written) touch my heart. pause and honor these precious requests:

Valarie - Lord help me with all my needs, and to havemy kids walk in the right path. Also lord give mestreanght. And keep us away from evil.

Laura - Self clean & sober

Marian - Please pray for peace & reconciliationbetween me and my husband. In the precious name ofJesus. This I pray.

Clarence - For a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sid - for a better world and good will toward all ofmankind and exspieally for children

William - Financial, marriage problems, wife's health.Get a refrigerator

Tammy - To watch over my family & friends and to guideus all to make the right choices.

Jackie - For safety of my family. Help me get my SSI started. (Supplemental Security Income, i.e.disability)

Samantha - Pray for God to help our marriage

Tonya - please pray for my oldes son to come homesafely and quickly (Texas Youth Commission ) andfor the lord to whach over him and the reast of thefamily

Betty - For good healt for all of us in the household.

Maria - Health & needsRamona - I would like to request that my mother beplaced on a prayer list. Her husband died on November18, 2005

Paige - Kids, getting a job, not going back to prison,CPS (Child Protective Services), finances . . .(staying at a halfway house)

Trisha - Family & babys health

Tessa - Please pray for our families and the world andthose in need like us

Jerry - That my kids will have a safe trip to theirmother's & back over Christmas break.

Randy - For the right job best for me, pray that Iwill stay strong in the Lord pray God's protectionover my household. And that I will get married ASAP.Thank you. God bless you.

Jennie - Pray for husband's salvation. His brother waskilled in an accident & he's angry at God. He is verysick physically.

Matilda - My husband tryied to kill me in front of mykids I moved from Amarillo to Abilene. I don't haveany thang. I have four kids and am a single parent. Iam only 23 yrs. Im so confused I really need all theprayer I can get. Thanks

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. --Jesus
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pic of the day:

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Love actually, is all around

december is here, hooray!
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lately i have been obsessing over love. and not really any particular part of love, but the entire concept of love. seeking to understand it. striving to share it. looking to receive it. asking God what it looks like and how it feels. where does it come from? how can i give more of it? there are so many layers, so many pieces, so many levels, types, functions, descriptions, avenues of love. love is an emotion. it is a gift. an action. a secret. a mystery. God. it changes lives and transforms our existence. it is more than a word, and no combination of them can possibly encompass all it is. yet i still want to wrap my brain around it; let it fill dwell inside of me; allow it to fill up inch of my being.

for lack of a better word, i l-o-v-e love, even though i feel i know so little of it. i'll probably be writing a great deal about love here in the coming weeks. and not because i'm in love or know all about it (i don't). not because i'm desperate for a signifcant other or because i'm cheezy. but because God is love. because Jesus loved completely. because of men like Paul and John. because people need love, and because i was created to love.

(for the record, i love the movie quoted in the title)
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pic of the day, Mexico:

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


a lady from church came to visit us at the office yesterday. she is around my mom's age and has been battling cancer for almost a year. two weeks ago she returned to teach her second graders half time after completing all her cemo. life seems to be on the up and up for her and she had an epiphany she wanted to share with us. you see 3 months ago the future was not looking so bright for this extraordinary woman. the chemotherapy had made her very sick. she was depressed, angry, impatient, and felt dead. a typical persona of your average cancer patient.

it was in the midst of that dark valley that this thought hit her: she had yet to thank God for her cancer. what?? (i thought as my heart sank in my chest) she had actually expressed gratitude to our Creator for this awful disease that had ravaged her physically and emotionally for almost a year. she was grateful. and she meant it. incredible

Paul's words in Ephesians to always give thanks to God for everything had struck a cord with her. (easier said than done, right). but she was serious, and you could see it her face. she let us know that she and her husband were closer than they had ever been. that her 25 year old daughter had matured greatly in the past year. that because of her cancer extended members of her family, who in the past had been distant from one another, had been brought together and talk on a daily basis. she said she had experienced true friendship like never before. her faith has been stretched and her prayer life awakened. every morning she wakes up and thanks God for this horrible affliction and for the ways he is working through it. what an amazing story of faith.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.

i pray for faith like hers. to see all my circumstances as yes's. to always trust and continually give thanks for everything. everything.
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pic of the day, our HS kids at Zenith last summer:

Monday, November 28, 2005


i took a sabatical from blogging the past week and a half and a lot has happened. here are some of the highlights of my 5 days in abilene for thanksgiving:

--laying on my parent's couch for hours at a time
--hugging my mom and dad
--dump cake
--watching hours upon hours of football with dad, kyle, and matty
--playing old school wheel of fortune with madison and rosalyn (i was vanna white)
--listening to the sweet comotion of laughter and stories produced by 20+ family members in one house
--playing on the floor with 1 and 2 year old cousins i haven't seen in a year
--rebuilding madison's swing set in the backyard...not
--UT's escape of the aggies (we won't mention the cowboys)
--box office, little panda, university church, cahoot's
--watching 5 back to back episodes of the OC season 1 (it's addicting)
--driving home from the a-high game (a.k.a. southlake practice) with kyle, jessica, zach, and rosalyn
--being humbly reminded of my age as i, participated in basketball with kyle and his college friends
--more dump cake
--being with people i love

what a wonderful holiday. the Lord is SO good--bring on Christmas!
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pic of the day (my little friends EJ, Xavier, and Cameron who are returning to a brand new home in New Orleans this week):

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Just Admit It

Everything I know is wrong
Everything I do it just comes apart
Everything is torn apart
And that's the hardest part --Chris Martin's The Hardest Part

These are the closing lines from my new favorite Coldplay song that got me thinking.

I am unspiritual. --the Apostle Paul, who wrote half the New Testament

Then those three words hit me hard when I read them in Romans 7. Partly because of who wrote them (maybe the most passionate follower of Jesus ever), but also because that is how I often feel. Unspiritual, inadequate, lacking, deficient, defective, poor, incompetent, not perfect. But don't you love God--of course I do. Aren't you a "minister"--yes, last I checked. Haven't you been spiritually and materially blessed--for sure. But I don't at all think that means I can't feel like this. After all I'm human, just as Paul was. Everyone has to feel this way sometimes. Admitting this isn't easy, but the perspective it brings is healthy.

And I've found that out of this acknowledgement comes freedom and life. Freedom from fear and isolation and life the way Christ intended it to be, full and satisfying. What I mean is, when I recognize that I am weak, completely and utterly weak, only then I can truly understand the enormouse scope of what Christ has done for me. How he has rescued my life from the pit of death, one that is too deep for me to begin to crawl out of. Jesus is my superhero: he's heard my damsel's helpless cry, defeated the enemy, and saved my life. His power is demonstrated (and made perfect) in my weakness. So why would I deny that I am terribly weak. Why would I refute the truth that sets his wonderful working grace in motion. I hate that so much is made in the world of what I am capable of; individualism, me me me, be all that you can be, all mark our culture. How great it is though to know that my worth is found in him; that my future depends on his faithfulness; that in spite of my flaws God can use me for the extraordinary. For what I am not, Christ is. Thank you Lord for the amazing story and power that is Jesus.
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pic of the day, from Mize:

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hello...I'm Naaman

lately i find myself selfishly thinking that life would be much easier/better if everything was on my time and happened my way. if my will was supreme then life would be dandy. i would be living on the beach in hawaii. i would work for an organization that sent me around the world to do tell kids about Jesus several times each year. i would occasionally play basketball for the mavs (when there were some injuries). i would see my family at least every other weekend, and all of my friends on the ones in between. i would have tivo. and then i would be set. no worries...right?

but then i read Naaman's story from 2 Kings and am completely humbled. when Elisha told him washing in the Jordan river would heal his leporsy he stubbornly offered an alternative suggestion. here before him stood God's messenger offering something incredible and life changing, and he had the audacity to hesitate. to say, "hold on God. i know this is your way...but how about my way?" what?! yeah right naaman...why don't you have some freakin appreciation. oh...wait a minute...

what naaman and i forget is that God's way is more superior than my way. God's way is satisfying and complete. who am i to even think that i might know better than him. thank you Lord for humbling me today. thank you for excusing my selfish (and silly) tendencies to worry and think i know best. thank you for replacing my fear and isolation with your peace. and thank you for not promising a life that is easy, but a life in which i am never alone.
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pic of the day, from Mize: Frank and Erika

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Return to my Childhood

for years an Abilene staple stood at the corner of South 1st and highland. Crystal's Pizza Palace was a place where dreams came true. i practically grew up at Crystal's and have many fond memories of that fine establishment. their menu was superb and i bet every kid in abilene can remember getting a mini pizza for just 99cents with a good report card. but Crystal's wasn't just pizza. they also had the best breadsticks ever served with cheese dipping sauce (don't knock it until you try it). their ice cream sundaes were heavenly. i can remember me and my buddies making "suicide" drinks at the soda foutain everytime we were there--we were crazy. the movie room, showing only Looney Tunes, was classic. the game room tough to beat (original ski ball--not ice ball, basketball shoot, Street Fighter, Galaga, and more). they had a piano and magic man there several nights a week. it was a must for team parties and youth group lock-ins. Crystal's was incredible.

then Mr. Gatti's supersized and took over Abilene. sure they had more games, bumper cars, better prizes, laser tag (which was originally an indoor roller coaster). but it didn't have the magic like Crystal's. still, Gatti's ruled and Crystal's was forced to close it's doors several years ago. a little piece of my childhood died that day. but last night...i was resurrected.

last night, thanks to Chad and Sheri, i was able to experience the magic all over again. there's only one Crystal's left, and who knew it was in Irving?! i sure didn't.

from the minute i saw that sparkling sign i was overwhelmed with feelings of nostalgia from my childhood. everything inside--the breadsticks, the tokens, the movie room, the greasy kitchen help--was the same as my youth. last night i was 8 years old again...and it truly was magical.

so if anyone out there shares my love for this childhood wonder, next time you're in the dfw area call me and we'll go.
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pic of the day (from Mize), Rosaly and her dad:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Happy Birthday Mom! Wish I could be there...
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And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don't think there is any better worship than wonder. --Donald Miller

one thing i love about God/faith/being a Christian is no matter how much i "know" there is still an element of mystery. i love that my Creator is so much bigger than his creation. that it is impossible to know everything about Him. now this is very ironic because by nature i'm a person who likes to know things, to have certainty. i don't like being left in the dark or unsure of the way. but with faith a sense of mystery is necessary, otherwise you don't have faith. you only have answers, and that is not God's intention.

wonder is incredible. it is getting lost in the presence of God. it is forgetting who/where/how i am and realizing all that He is. it is stepping into a moment, a story, that is bigger than myself. wonder is where my cares are buried and my heart is transformed. i pray today that we will all respond to the Lord with wonder.
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pic of the day, from Mize:

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Last Night

2 things the Lord put on my heart last night as i attended a house blessing. it was hosted by a transitional housing project in Grapevine that houses women recovering from abusive or traumatic situations:

1. the best way to make an impact on someone's life is to love them. to love them completely and unconditionally. Deborah and the other ladies who pour their lives into this project serve as a shining example of the second greatest command. what a joy to witness the way these women are restoring lives in the Kingdom.

2. my parents are incredible. i was reminded of this as one of the residents asked me, "what did your parents think of you going into the ministry?" i told her my parents do nothing but cover me with love and support. their constant prayers and encouragement have carried me through many of the ups and downs of this field. i deal with kids everyday whose parents don't show them they're loved, much less give a flying flip about what they do, and it makes me terribly sad. i'm tremendously blessed by my parents, and i thank God for the positive influence they have on our (mine and cayce's and kyle's) lives.
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pic of the day: Mize and "Potato"

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tuesday Smiles

pic of the day (Mize's): funny friends

Monday, October 31, 2005

Monkey Bars

when i was a kid i liked to play on monkey bars, and i was pretty good at them. i had quick speed between reaches and the ability to skip bars. i was a 7-year-old pro, the envy of the first grade playground.

lately i find myself back on those monkey bars. it seems life right now is a lot like swinging from those rungs. as much as you would like to have a safe, two-handed grip on life, i'm discovering that won't get you anywhere. you have to let go to move forward. now this is an interesting concept because letting go is never easy. whether it be of a person, your home, or your comfort, it's simply not a natural human response.

when you let go on the monkey bars you are left dangling by one arm. you feel helpless, unsure, vulnerable even. it is tough to let go of the familiar and swing out in faith. but i think that is what Christ calls us to--a life of self denial and dependence on him as we steadily advance through his kingdom. and when we do let go, it is imperative that our grip be fastened to Him. for apart from Him we can do nothing.

you have to let go to move forward. i'm still not completely sure what this looks like for me everyday, yet i feel there is truth and nesessity in this idea. for i know the life God has for me is one that is full and satisfying. and a story as adventurous as His can only be lived if i let go of those safe rungs, hold fast to him, and swing forward. "don't let your hearts be troubled. trust in God, trust also in me."
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pic of the day (from Mize): Ashley and Erika at night

Thursday, October 27, 2005


breakfast is not a consistent meal of mine. no real reasoning for that. i love breakfasty foods (such as waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese and ham, hash browns, cinnamon toast) but not necessarily for breakfast. every morning i drink orange juice, my favorite beverage, but usually don't eat until lunch. breakfast doesn't have to be about food though. it can be about people, like it was this morning. and people are more important than meals and should not be skipped. instead of a muffin or cereal, i started off my day with Mary Beth, Rosalyn, and Lindsay. today they provided me with more sustenance and energy than they know; a real blessing to spend some time with these great friends. to top it off, the sunrise was beautiful this morning. haven't seen one of those in awhile, but maybe i need to start having more "breakfasts."
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Here's some well written words on last night's victory for the White Sox by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post:
After the final out, the White Sox formed a scrum at the pitcher's mound, often hugging each other until they toppled to the ground. Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura, Ray Durham and Carlos Lee -- all of whom played and lost in past postseasons for the Pale Hose -- were not there. But all their efforts, fallen short over the decades, were fully honored by the work of a team, managed passionately by Ozzie Guillen, that respected every baseball fundamental. The Chisox preached pitching, defense and situational hitting -- a doctrine as valid in 2005 as it was in 1917, when the South Side of Chicago last ruled the sport.

Sweet words to close a memorable season.
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pic of the day (mize's pic) brent drawing portraits:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Him:why I love Jesus

he saved me, gives fullness, he's a mystery, bigger than everything, knows me, he's true, always faithful, without limits, uses ordinary for extraordinary, sunsets, the cross, his passion, he's gentle, he understands, loves children, not partial, focused, concerned about people, listens, he speaks, miraculous, can change lives, brings hope out of sorrow, creates, transcends all barriers, stars, 2nd chances, discipline, his example, his friends, makes an impact, is the adventure, friend, brother, Father, took my place, risen, returning, he's living, pursuing, can empathize, sincere, genuine, owned nothing, devoted, submissive, cleans up my messes, fixes me, equipps, calls, kicks my butt, peace, satisfies my thirst, unchanging, constant, infinite, powerful
(please bless others by adding your list to the comments--thanks)
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pic of the day (another reason why I love Him):

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Make a List

i enjoy making lists. before i go on a trip, i make a list. when i go to walmart, i make a list. on mondays at the office, i make a list. i know, i'm a huge dork. but that's how i roll.

on friday night i decided to make a list, but one i had never attempted before. at the top of the page i wrote the words Him: why i love Jesus. i had been thinking about Him a lot that day, and wanted to get some of those thoughts down on paper. then i started listing all the things i love about Christ. before i knew it i found myself consumed with his presence, soaking up his Spirit. it turned out to be an incredible experience as it allowed me to truly examine who He is and what He means to me.

so here's what i'm thinking: today, tonight, sometime in the next 24 hours, take some time to think about/brainstrom/list out why or what you love about Jesus. ask yourself, "why do i love Him?" reflect, pray, mediate, whatever. but see what you come up with. then tomorrow, hopefully, we can ALL post our lists or ideas on here for others to share. it can be 2 words long, it can be 100 things. it can be words, phrases, names, events, people, whatever you want. search your heart and see what happens. and what an incredible blessing it will be to have all these reminders to carry us through out our days; to lift us up when we're down; to affirm our hope and spur us on to be like Christ. so set aside some time in the next day or two, and make a list. make a list, then come back and share it tomorrow. we'd all be blessed if you did.
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pic of the day (sunset in Crimea):

Monday, October 24, 2005

Random Stuff

Last week was pretty hectic, so I'm making up for it by posting everyday this week. There's a lot in my head (and heart) right now, so I'm unsure of how random this will be:

--I missed game 1 of the World Series Saturday, but saw the end of last night's game. What a finish. I don't care who you're rooting for, if you appreciate baseball and all it's absurdness then that classic game won't be forgotten. I hope the 'Stros make it a long series (they probably will).

--Ate at Joe T Garcia's Saturday night for Val's birthday, which is the best mexican food restaraunt ever (no disrespect to Alamo Cafe Brent), although their food's not the best. Clay and I both agree the ambiance of that place pushes it above the rest. It's definitely worth the hour wait on a Sat. night. I love sitting outside on the patio with friends to the sounds of my fajitas sizzle on the table and two old vaqueros strumming Spanish guitars.

--One of young girls in the Youth Group was buried with Christ in baptism yesterday. She had the biggest, sweetest smile on her face all day--a true relection of God's glory. The joy expressed in her face moved me still this morning.

--I'm going to go ahead and say it, even at the cost of jinxing their season...UT is legit, and headed to the Rose Bowl. I was very nervous watching the first half Saturday, both because of Tech's score-from-anywhere-offense and because Mack still strolls the sideline. His team's have a history of collapses, but not this year's team. They're different, both sides of the ball are. I still can't put my finger on it, but I know for sure that Chizek has a lot to do with it. I also feel that this team isn't "all about me" this year, but that they're playing selfless football, as all great teams do. I hope the special season continues.

--Yeah for fall weather.

--I often grow tired of loving someone and not having it returned. I don't feel like saying anything more, but I realized something. Now I don't know much, but I'm confident of this: no matter what, God will ALWAYS love you back.
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pic of the day: Mize's pic of Brandon and me forming one "giant mega person" a.k.a. Goliath...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Pure Heart

Lately I've been trying to be intentional with my prayers, and have spent some time reflecting on the nature of prayer. Now in no way have I got the essence/nature of prayer completely figured out, but God has been revealing some insights to me. I finished up Nouwen's The Way of the Heart last night. Here's something he wrote on the prayer of the heart that I thought was worth sharing:

The prayer of the heart is a prayer that does not allow us to limit our relationship with God to interesting words or pious emotions. By its very nature such prayer transforms our whole being into Christ precisely because it opens the eyes of our soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God. In our heart we come to see ourselves as sinners embraced by the mercy of God....The Prayer of the heart challenges us to hide absolutely nothing from God and to surrender ourselves unconditionally to his mercy. Thus the prayer of the heart is the prayer of truth.

These powerful words really humbled me last night. Simplicity in prayer is valuable; the position of our heart is valuable; my nifty words or thoughts are not. The truth is I'm a sinner, God is full of mercy, and my prayers should remind me of that. This truth has the ability to fill my soul and bring peace to my chaotic life. It cleanses my heart of worry and makes my life more pure, less distracted. This truth brings us into the very presence of God, and it's there we can find rest. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God--so true, so true.
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I was thinking I'd start a picture of the day, mainly because I love pictures. We'll see how it goes the next couple of times. Many of these will probably be from Ukraine (because I love it there), and will be the work of Ashley Mize (because she's incredible). Pics of extraordinarily special people, in an unforgettable place, by an extremely talented person.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


even though this was the 100th year for ACU, honestly, it still felt like an ordinary homecoming. but that isn't to say that i didn't enjoy it, because it was a blessed weekend. now i'm not gonna lie, i was pretty frustrated on the drive home last night, mainly because i didn't have enough time to see all the people i wanted to, or spend enough time with the ones i did see. but at least God afforded me the opportunity to return to a place that is so special to my heart.

homecoming isn't about breakfasts (although i attended mine); it isn't about parades (although that's my favorite event); it isn't about football games or musicals (didn't go to either); it's about people. it's about hugging the necks of friends you only see twice a year now. it's about looking guys in the eye who have helped shape the person you have become. it's about reliving old stories and sharing your current one. it's about loving on your family, both immediate and spiritual ones. it's about quality time with people whom you love more than they'll know, people who've touched your life in ways that words can describe. it's about being thankful for God's faithfulness, and looking forward to the years to come.
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This is the last Lonesome Dove quote i'll share for awhile (but I'm starting a new series of everday item next time :)) I'm going to end my L.D. quote of the days with this one, from Gus, at the end of his life:

"My God Woodrow, it's been quite a party."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


kids are interesting people, with much to say. lately i find myself being very intentional and patient in my listening. more than half the time they're talking about some video game they conquered or the latest happenings on the WB--things i know little about. but i continue to listen, because listening is ministry, and it's a two-way street.

some of my friends spend huge chunks of their week counseling others. i have a ton of respect for these friends, not because they have all the answers, but because they listen, and listen well. they train themselves to slow down and focus on people, not on problems. God has been reminding me lately of how to make a real difference in the lives of my kids. it's not the lessons i've prepared or the activity we have planned. it's listening like Christ did. being personal and engaged in our conversations is important. give them my attention, my ears and my heart--that's valuable. listening is ministry.

i love the way kids can speak great truths at random times. out of nowhere they'll hit you with a seemingly simple answer, but with profound implication. working with kids may be tiring (ok, very tiring) but the rewards recieved are many, although unwarranted. without a doubt i learn way more from these kids than they could from me, and i have God to thank for that. He's constantly humbling me, constantly revealing His nature, his truth.
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L.D. quote of the day: (from Gus to Lorie as he's about to leave her at Clara's. he's explaining why it's a good thing for her to stay)

"Because you'll have discoverd that there's more to this world than me. You'll find that there are others that treat you decent."

p.s. I finished L.D. the novel last night. That's one story I'll never get tired of reading, or watching.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


this is an interesting season of life for me and for i'm sure for many of my peers. everyday i'm met with things unfamiliar, though it's not at all bad. however i'm not sure what exactly to make of the way my life has shifted; my location, my home, my priorities, my peers, my surroundings, my community...all are shifting. the world is spinning all around me but sometimes i catch myself standing still. that is, i approach situations like they're temporary; like in a few months i'll move back to abilene to begin a familiar routine and continue the relationships established there. that i'll "finish" this task of ministry here and move on to something else. afterall, that's what i've been doing for the past 6 years or so--accomplish one feat/come to the end of a time period, and then jump into whatever is next. but this is different; this is still new. and there's no sign of life growing old any time soon. for the first time in a long time, i can't see "what's next" on the grander scale of life, and it's somewhat frightening.

but that's a good thing. it reminds me to live in the present. to avoid the temptation to look off in the distance and miss the here and now. to put down roots; invest myself fully in the place I've been placed. and yet i still wrestle with all the shifting. i find myself trying to catch up with the train i'm already on; to get on that train and enjoy the ride, even if i'm unsure of where it will take me.

as change occurs and new seasons of life roll in it's important to embrace the freshness it brings. days constantly move forward and the people and opportunities i'm surrounded with today aren't temporary. they aren't temporary in the sense i'll return to the (familiar) past tomorrow, but they're not permanent either. there's an interesting balance there, and i'm not sure i have a good grasp on it yet. what i do know is this: nothing is permanent, except the faithfulness of God...
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L.D. quote of the day (from Gus): "A lady can slice your jugular quick as a Commanche. Clara's got a sharp tongue. She's tomahawked me many a time in the past."

Friday, October 07, 2005


there's so much i want to say today, so many thought running through my head. but i'm lacking the time to put it all down. i've been thinking about my family a lot this week. that's probably a result of praying for several other families lately who've experienced loss. on top of this, my spiritual family i'm a part of here has been filling me in numerous ways. i hope to write more on that later, but for now my thoughts are occupied with my family and how much i love them.

my parents are incredible examples of Christ to me, and have done nothing but cover my life with support, prayer, and love. i'm thankful for them as i remember how fortunate i've been to grow up with two faithful parents. my niece, Madison, has not though. i admire my sister Cayce for the way she has raised such a beautiful, sweet-spirited girl. this is her on the right, with her favorite cousin and best friend Hattie Jane: Madison has had 4 uncles to influence her life, as well some amazing grandparents and countless other people to shower her with love. but little girls don't need uncles, they need fathers. a father to be there for them everyday; to play with her, hug on her, pray with before bed. and sweet school teacher moms don't need brothers, they deserve husbands. a husband to care for her and show her affection. a husband to cook with, to take care of her when she's sick, and to take her out on dates. today i'm thankful that God has brought Matty into Cayce and Madison's life. he's going to be a part of our family, and a big part at that. today i'm praying for their family that will be joined together soon. i love my family, and am thinking about them today.

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L.D. quote of the day: (from Gus as he spoke to Clara and Laurie, the two loves of his life, when they asked whether he would return to Clara's farm, where her two daughters lives as well)

"Sure I'll come back. A ladies man like me could hardly be expected to resist such a passel of beauties."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Robots in Disguise

in a few days i'll be with 20 middle schoolers on a retreat trying to teach them the basics of faith, belief, and spiritual transformation in Christ. probably not the easiest job, but I know the Lord is up to the task. i'm excited to spend time with these energetic kids and see how God works through our high school counselors this weekend.

studying the idea of transformation last night brought me several insights, none of which are breaking any new ground. just what God has been teaching me.

1. this transformation is a journey, not a destination. it's a process, not an event. Ephesians talks about "growing up into Christ," and i love that image. from the time we're conceived we're growing, and our spiritual growth is no different. once Jesus has invaded our life the process begins (you could even make the point it begins before our encounter with him). it's crazy that mike cope wrote about this very thing today, reminding us not to look too far ahead and miss the moments occuring right now. i feel it's imperative to take in what's around us; to soak up all we can as we make strides toward Christ. these words from Counting Crows come to mind: "i can't remember all the times i've tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass." great advice.

2. when Paul says in Ephesians that we can be blown off course by "every wind of teaching," i don't think he's just talking about false ones, but Christian ones. i think this can be especially true for new Christians, but older ones are not exempt either. as we undergo this process of transformation we have to seek out what's most important to God; ask the question, "what does he value most?" and pursue that with our lives. things like loving people, making disciples, and walking as Christ did stand out. i'm guilty of chasing rabbit trails and making myself busy with good actions--but that's not transformation. in fact, i think seeking to be busy or just morally good is stagnation.

3. the maturity of Christ can't be measured by human standards. the ultimate goal of all this is attaining the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ." what an incredible thought! being completely filled with Christ and empty of myself. so why am i satisfied with anything less? i wouldn't want half a strawberry cream slush from sonic, or a bite of a joe allen's ribeye. God's design for us in the beginning was to be like him, made in his image. we were "created to be like God," and he still wants that for us today. i pray that God would transform me into his image.
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L.D. quote of the day: "I hate rude behavior in a man. Won't tolerate it."
(From Captain Call right after he nearly beat an old army scout to death who was whipping Newt, his son)

Friday, September 30, 2005

"Baseball Fever--Catch It!"

the MLB regular season comes to close this weekend, and unfortunately that includes the Rangers. it's been a rocky year for the boys of summer, especially the last 2 months. the beginning of august when they lost 15 of 19 including 8 in a row is what really killed their playoff push (that plus a complete lack of pitching). however, i won't give up on them. there certainly need to be some changes--firing Buck, replacing Hart with Austin Henley, trading Soriano, adding quality pitchers, etc.--but i look forward to another season. there's fireworks (easily one of my favorite things) after saturday's games so i hope to make it. here's a pic from opening day when hopes were high...

like my good friend austin, i too love this time of year in sports--the college football scene is really heating up with some great conference games, and mavs talk has already returned to the airwaves of Dallas. but baseball is at its best right now. not to downplay the freshness the game ushers in during spring training, but the real games are happening now, the pure games. there's excitement in the autumn air as the playoffs role around and strategy takes center-stage over simply skill. the great baseball geniuses of cox, larussa, and scoscia play huge roles as teams battle it out in 7-game series (save the DS). pinch-hitters, sacrifice bunts, match-ups, the bullpen, 3 days rest...all have new meaning in october.

and there's always the hope of historic moments and instant classics. the chance to tell your grandkids some day "i remember watching those no-name indians from cleveland miraculously march on to their first of 3 consecutive world series titles back in 2005" (a guy can dream, right joel). that's what i love about pro-baseball though. the great memories and great players. the kirk gibson, jack morris', and joe carters. luis gonzales, aaron boone, dave roberts, mariano rivera, david ortiz. these are men who triumphed in moments bigger than themselves, and who won't be forgotten. sorry if this sort of thing doesn't appeal to you, but i just think it's pretty neat stuff.

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L.D. quote of the day: (from Gus when Clara questioned their decision to go to Montana as not making any sense and asked him to stay in Nebraska)

"Well, me and Woodrow always like to get where we set out to go, even if don't make a bit of sense. Besides, I'd like to see one more piece of country that ain't settled before I take up the rocker."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Can We Take a Ride?

easily my favorite time of day is dusk; that hour before the sun goes down, and the few full moments of color right after it sets. the shades and colors of texas sunsets are unmatched.

one of my favorite things is driving around the southlake/grapevine area during this time of day. there are so many hills and tiny backroads around here, winding through trees and crossing creeks. these drives have become a regular part of my life here, something i really look forward to on occasion. and no drive is the same because no sky is the same. sometimes i listen to music, sometimes i turn it off completely and enjoy the silence. it's become a great time of escape for me; a time for prayer, reflection, and thanksgiving. a time for me to marvel at the wonder of our creator as he ushers refreshment into my life. in these precious moments God speaks. sometimes it's only a whisper, but i know it's him. "after the fire came a gentle whisper..." (1 Kings 19:12)
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L.D. quote of the day: (from Jake, as he's about to be hung by Gus, Call, Deets, Pea, and Newt)

"I swear boys...I'd much rather be hung by my friends than by a bunch of dern strangers."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fix You

while i played video games all night with 18 adolescent boys friday, several of my friends saw my favorite band coldplay in concert. ouch. then sunday night, while i was singing with my youth group, another friend left me a message on my phone of chris martin belting out "fix you" live at ACL. double ouch. don't get me wrong, i love spending time with my kids. but missing coldplay twice in one weekend, well that sort of stinks. but i'm happy for my friends that got to see them--i hear it is an amazing show.

martin's lyrics to "fix you" really resonated with me yesterday: "lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and i will try to fix." much of coldplay's music, for me at least, has spiritual implications--perhaps that's why i'm so drawn in by it. we've been studying Genesis in our sunday morning class, and the past two weeks we've looked at adam and eve as well as cain and abel. these age-old accounts speak much truth about temptation, choices, and sin. however, they also speak volumes about the nature of God.

my favorite part of adam and eve's story comes in verse 21: "The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." even after they disobeyed Him and plead not guilty; even after they tried to fix it themselves with leaves and then hid from God--God still showed them care and kindness. and when Cain was scared of God taking his presence from him and someone killing him, the LORD said "not so," and gave him a mark of protection. even after Cain ignored God's warning of sin; even after he too pleaded not guilty--God still had compassion and provided protection. now will there be consequences for our choices--of course. will He judge us fairly--absolutely. but God is the only one who can truly "fix us." we may think we have the ability too, but sooner or later our efforts come up short and our leaves will fall off. it's in our brokeness that we realize how much we need him. in times of despair dependence rises from our hearts--a dependence rooted in him.

Oh Lord would you humble me completely; would you invade my life with your mercy and grace. thank you for putting up with my stubborness; for being patient with me time and time again. thank you for the spiritual healing and renewal that came from you son Jesus. may the light of Christ guide me toward your will. and may your Spirit stir in me and ignite my life for you. thank you Lord.
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L.D. quote of the day (sorry dave):
(from Gus to Dan Scuggs, a bad outlaw, after Dan just sassed Gus when he's about to be hung)

"son you're one of those men it's a pleasure to hang. if all you can talk is gruff, go talk it to the devil."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Peace, Perfect Peace

yesterday my heart was broken and my jaw dropped as i watched the craziness occurring in the houston area. hurricane Rita could be worse than katrina, if we can even imagine something worse. my prayers go out to all those weary souls making the 15 hour trips to "safety;" to the countless number caught up in a mass of confusion and uncertainty; and to all those who are prepared to take-in/minister to these folks.

last night i decided to talk to my middle school class about Rita and what i thought of all this. the first place i turned in my Bible was Mark chapter 4 when Jesus calms the storm--a very familiar story. but i didn't come across the story i remember. no, it was here i found words with new meaning and a freshness that only the Word of God can provide. Jesus commanded the storm: "quiet! be still!" yet when i read those 3 words last night, it didn't seem that he was just talking to the waves and wind. he was talking to the disciples. and he was talking to me.

Jesus was speaking to me in the midst of my spiritual turmoil and uncertainty. he was telling me to stop being overcome by meaningless worry and doubt. he was urging me to be still in his sweet presence. he was reminding me to trust in his unending provision and care. he's offering me his lasting peace. not just a break from the storm or a temporary hiatus, but complete and utter tranquility. true peace that only he can provide.

last night i heard these words for the first time again, and it filled my heart. i pray now for the hearts of those evacuated from houston. i also pray for anyone who's battling one of life's crazy storms--that Christ will fill their hearts with hope, and most of all, peace.
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a great L.D. quote found only in the book, not in the movie:
(Deets, Call, Gus, Pea Eye, and Newt have tracked Jake and the Suggs brothers (3 outlaws) to a creek)
Call asks Gus, "what do you think they're doing down there?"
Gus replies, "probably taking turns baptizing each other for all i know."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Life Itself Becomes Ministry"

i'm laying in bed today with the stomach flu that has steadily been ravaging our youth group. boooo. so here are some words from henry nouwen the Lord led me to (from The Way of the Heart):
"what becomes visible here is that solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God's even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry. in such a ministry there is hardly any difference left between doing and being. when we are filled with God's merciful presence , we can do nothing other than minister because our whole being witnesses to the light that has come into the darkness."

powerful stuff. these words hit me hard today as i continue to wrestle with idea of loving purely in authentic, Christ-like ministry. so many times i've noticed that my approach in ministry is sprinkled with thoughts of judgement and even elevation of myself. i don't bring it along intentionally, but it's something Satan seeks to engrain in my conscience, and often in my heart. and i think this is a serious tool Satan uses to keep me from living the true love of Christ out in my relationships. i get so frustrated when i see how different Jesus' ministry looks from mine.

Father, my desire is know and live the reality of your gentleness and compassion. to be filled with Christ and nothing else. i pray that you will cleanse me of my self-righteousness and humble me in view of your rich mercy. i want to serve you and you alone Father. i long to share Christ with people by loving selflessly, all for your glory. use solitude, stillness, brokeness, and whatever means necessary to transform my life into your ministry. get me out of the way Lord as you move mightily in the lives of those around me.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Live Next Door to...

what a weekend. got to spend time with my family and several close friends for a couple of days in abilene. i've said it before, but nothing beats a meaningful, face-to-face conversation with someone you love. by meaningful i don't necessarily mean deep, but time spent laughing, sharing life stories, or even just catching up. i was fortunate to have quality time with quality people--always refreshing. much of friday night i spent with the men of GSP, both old and young. there were 15 guys at bid night from my pledge class (ROC class) so that was special. the majority of us are still close friends so to say we had a fun time would be an understatement.

the rest of this weekend was spent moving into my new place, rightfully dubbed "la casa pequeno" or the little house. while the name says it all, it's just perfect for me. one great thing about the new pad (besides the quiet neighborhood, cheap rent, and great landlords) is my next door neighbor, former Ranger ace Kenny Hill! his house is slightly larger than mine, but hope i get invited over for dinner...

quite a few people have told me how great it is to fly solo for awhile when you first start out. they say you learn a lot about yourself. something i've learned in the past several months of ministry is the importance of that solo time. it's important to have time to rest, reflect, and get away from the busyness that embodies everyday. it's important to be able to do your own thing every once in awhile. i pray that God will use this time to shape me more into the image of his Son and equipp me to minister in his name.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


i'm headed to abilene for a couple of days. i'm moving this weekend so i have to pick up some furniture from home...more on that later.

but tomorrow also happens to be bid night. i'm excited to see some of my old buddies and relive some fond memories. club was very special to me in college, and continues to be something i think about a lot. hopefully i can reflect more on that next week when i return, but for now here's a pic from dave's wedding this summer.

a few years ago i didn't even know these guys, and now they're some of my best friends in the whole world. we've done life together and shared so much a long the way. God has blessed my life richly with these godly men, and words can't describe how lucky i am to know, not only the ones in the picture, but so many others. thanks guys--i love ya'll and will see ya tomorrow.

L.D. quote for today from Woodrow: "Hell Gus, you don't get excited about nuthin'...except maybe biscuits...and [fluzies]."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

2 Things Today

first off, you have to love having friends in high places. joel, a die-hard buckeye fan, emailed me and a few of our buddies, who are UT faithful, some sweet pics from "the game" saturday. he wasn't there, but he knows a guy.... so thanks joel. here's my favorite two:

and secondly, a L.D. quote for today (especially for matt foster). from Po Campo, the cook:

"my wife is in hell, where i sent her. she could make good biscuits, but her behavior was terrible."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Images of Joy

this past summer we took our youth group kids to Acuna, Mexico for a mission trip. we thought we were going to build a church building and pour ourselves into the Christians there. little did we know how much more they were going to give/do for us. i can't remember ever experiencing so much joy and generosity in one week. the mexican Christians radiated it. hopefully you can catch a glimpse of their genuine joy in these pics.

i've been thinking and reading about joy a lot lately, trying to understand it better. actually, i've been trying to figure out how to be more joyful in my life, and how to direct that towards my Father in heaven, as well as those around me. i'm still wrestling with it while stiving to be filled with the joy only Christ can provide. what i do know though is this. joy is contagious and powerful. it can make an eternal difference in someone's life. at least, it has for me.

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L.D. quote for the day: "Lorie darlin', why you look as pretty as the mornin'."--Gus

speaking of pretty...

pure, innocent, Christ-like, joy...

Monday, September 12, 2005


i meant to post this pic yesterday, but never got around to it. i'm sure there were lots of heavy hearts yesterday as people across the nation remembered 9/11. and with all the katrina stuff going on too...well, it's just an interesting time in life. not sure what to make of it all, but i know God is and will continue to be faithful.

thank you Lord for the country we call home, and the way you're moving in people's lives. thank you for being bigger than even the worst tragedies.

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how about texas on saturday night?! i only caught the 2nd half, but i saw the rest of it later--what a game! definitely one of the best college football games of this century. it sure was a treat to witness an incredibly hard fought battle this early in the season. i love college football!

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from woodrow (this one's for clay): "no, no...i don't know nuthin' of the dang kind!"

Thursday, September 08, 2005


my new friend everett is 30 years old, married, and has 3 boys under the age of 5 with 1 on the way. he's just relocated to grapevine after being born and raised in new orleans. for the past week he and his family have been living at the hilton hotel out of suitcases in a cramped room. today though, for the first time in awhile, everett felt normal.

i sat in our church library today with he and his extended family (15 more people) eating pizza. everett started reinacting a funny moment from their 10 hour bus ride to texas. as he told the story the rest of his family caught the giggles, and by the end all of them were laughing their heads off. for a moment everything was alright in their chaotic lives. for a moment everett felt normal.

tonight everett and his family sat in the living room of the huston's house. he and his wife brittany chatted and laughed with bill and myra. i played baseball on the floor with the boys ej, cameron, and xavier. it was incredible and we had so much fun. again, for a few hours, everett and his family felt normal.

i've been floored today by the reality of God's sovereign care. despite what is seen on tv or argued about in washington, God is moving mightlily amidst the uncertainty. he is restoring normalcy back to the lives of his children. and he's humbling me in the process. thank you Lord.
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on a lighter note, here's the Lonesome Dove exchange for today:
captain call said, "it [the latin motto on their sign] could say anything. for all you know it invites people to rob us. "
and gus replies, "the first bandit that comes along that can read latin is welcome to rob us, as far as i'm concerned. i'd risk a few nags for the opportunity of shooting an educated man for a change."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


in college (and i guess high school too) i hated reading. ok, hate is a strong word, but i didn't care for it very much. growing up i never read in excess--i was too busy playing outside with kyle or my neighborhood buddies. however, since graduating from college i've been on a book binge, especially as of late. i can't really explain the recent trend, except maybe to say that i'm at a point in my life where i'm craving to be filled with something of value, namely spiritual insights. i've read nouwen's "in the name of Jesus," bonhoeffer's "the cost of discipleship," eldredge's "wild at heart," and have begun miller's "blue like jazz." perhaps it is just a trend that will fade, but something tells me maybe not. there are already 3 other books i'm eager to read--bill simmon's book (most likely foul, but hilarious), "future grace" (brewer's recommendation), and "coach k's little blue book" (one of my heros).

for those who know me well, you are aware that in my opinion the best movie ever made is "lonesome dove." i've probably made you watch all 6 hours of it with me (in one sitting if possible) and it has no doubt changed your life. well, i started reading the novel "lonesome dove" by larry mcmurtry and have not been able to put it down. if you think robert duvall is hilarious as gus, he's even funnier in the book. and the novel takes countless cracks at pea's intelligence, another part of the movie i love.

for the next few days i'm going to share at least one great quote from this epic story.
today i'll leave you with the wise words of Captain Augustus McCray, Texas Ranger: "my God, you just don't get it do you woodrow. it's not dying i'm talking about, its living."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


i hope i've never come across as one of those people who seemed to have it all together, or who know all the answers, because i for sure don't. i think there's something to be said for honesty, for transparency, for being vulnerable. it's ok to let others know when things aren't chipper. right now if someone asked me how i feel, i'd say overwhelmed. i'm not complaining, just being honest. today i sat in a meeting of area ministers and service people discussing what to do with the near 1000 evacuees already living in the grapevine area. on top of that we began to coordinate our efforts for another possible 1000 who will come our way in the next few days. i also listened to stories of loss, saw faces of little hope, and it made my heart hurt. now while there are a lot of needs to be met, there are also many resources willing to be exhausted for these people. i witnessed that today, and it was encouraging. praise God.

still, i can't help but feel so small, so unsure about everything happening around me. i know it's good for God to humble us, and i believe humility is one key to authentic faith. but there are times when that humility turns to doubt, and i don't like it. i don't like being hesitant, i don't like the feelings of distrust that creep in.

please God, take away doubt and uncertainty; carry away these burdens i seem to lay on myself; erase the lies satan attempts to write into my life; fill my life with confidence, not in myself, but in the power of your will. help me be bold, but gentle at the same time. for i know you are faithful Lord, and there is nothing we can do to nullify your faithfulness (Romans 3:3,4). be true to your name God, be true in my life.

Monday, September 05, 2005


i'm back in grapevine from my week off, and what a great week it was. the Lord blessed me with tremendous rest and quality time spent with people i love. here's some of the highlights...

--swimming with madison on friday in her new pool.
--meeting cayce's kindergarten class and being bombarded by the cute randomness of 5 year olds. i.e. "hey guess what...i have a dog that pooped on my sister." pretty cool kid...
--jumping off the rope swing with gregs at least 100 times at lake travis, and watching her land on "the bull." p.s. thanks for an amazing weekend cal.
--playing "signs" with some of my favorite people in the world (once at the lake, once at the mansion) and laughing harder than i have in a long time...i love my friends!
--driving 3.5 hours to abilene at 6 am on 2 hours of sleep in a torrential downpour while demetrius slept the whole way...wait a minute....
--worship with my family sunday, and the gentle words of eddie.
--a humbling night of basketball with zach and john mark. newsflash...i'm old.
--golf with my dad and wooden bat batting practice with my brother and some ball-playin' friends.
--eating at cahoots, little panda, joe allen's, and lytle...need i say more.
--having dinner with some former GCOCers, now wildcats in my parent's dining room.
--did i mention playing "signs" a.k.a. the best game ever with my friends? absolutely hilarious!
--just sitting in the living room at night talking with mom and dad. speaking of that...
--sitting down for meaningful conversations with people who've touched my life. that's something i miss about being here, but i loaded up on it this past week.
--taking in an intramural softball game of my club buddies and bumping into so many faces whose smiles and kind words lifted me up.
--dinner with the moudy's...which could be the name and idea for a sitcom.
--driving back to grapevine.

there are too many other wonderful people and occurences to list, but there's a few for ya. and as wierd as my last one might sound, it felt good to be driving back here. this has become my new home, and will be for some time, which i'm very excited about. i feel like the Lord has put much on my heart this past week, so i should have much to share and write about it.

before i left abilene i found a small wooden star in one of my bags i thought i had lost last summer in ukraine. it was with some friendship bracelets i had from kazakhstan that i used to carry with me every where i went for 3 years. needless to say i was ecstatic to uncover these precious momentos. written on the flat wooden star is the word "Mizpah," which has come to have a significant value in my life. that is what Laban named a pillar where he and Jacob had met. there he said these words, "May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other." (Genesis 31:49) these words have found their way back into my pocket, and are always in my heart.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


my mom read my blog and said she thinks i'm allergic to capital letters. but she's an english teacher so she's supposed to say that (love ya mom). however i'd rather spend my energy here putting my thoughts down in a readable manner, and not on capitalization or grammar. sorry if that offends anyone else.

i'm leaving this afternoon for what will be my first "real world" vacation. as opposed to the previous 22 years of my life, my job, if you can call it that, allows me 2 weeks vacation per year. so i'm headed to austin for a few days to see Cayce and Madison which will be great. i also get to spend a day at the lake saturday with a large group of friends who are scattered across the state, so i'm looking forward to laughing and catching up with them. all of next week i'll be in abilene with the rest of my family. i know it's not exotic or overly exciting, but that will be my vacation: spending time with people i love at "home." worship at university on sunday with my family will be especially neat--my heart misses Eddie's sweet words of truth.

my friend carisse once told me that when you work you should work hard, when you play you should play hard, and when you rest you should rest hard. i'm hoping that God provides me rest and renewal this next week, and that i'll be blessed by the time i spend basking in his presence. the writer of Hebrews speaks about rest in ch. 4. "there remains then a Sabbat-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rests also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us therefore, make every effort to enter that rest..." (v.9-11). it's not our place to stop our laboring for the Lord here on earth and rest completely, for God will one day provide for us the ultimate "Sabbath-rest." i do pray that this week will not be time off from the work of his Kingdom, but time to reflect and recharge my batteries to better serve his kingdom continually. may you find rest in Him today, the Great Provider.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


remember that classic holiday movie "a christmas story?" i know we've all seen it about a hundred times and could quote at least half of it. one of my favorite parts is the infamous triple-dog-dare that pits ralph's buddy's tongue against the freezing cold flag pole. it's absolutely hilarious to see a kid flailing his arms with his tongue attached to that pole. what a great moment.

a "similar" story is found in 2 samuel 23, the story of Eleazar, one of David's mighty men. having been abandoned by the rest of his army in a battle with the dreaded Philistines, Eleazar "stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword" (v.10). that's right, his hand froze to his sword as he layed waste to probably several hundred men. what a great warrior.

the account of Eleazar causes me to ask the question, "what have i attached myself to in life?" it's easy to take hold of money, a job, comfort, a girlfriend or boy friend, even your best friends or family. but our grip can easily slip from these things, leaving us unarmed in the spiritual battles we face. but Eleazar was attached to his sword and fought bravely. that's why i love his story and want to emulate his stance. i want to hold on to God's word as i go to battle each day. i need to take hold of the eternal life he's called me to as i fight the good fight of faith (1 timothy 6:12). and i long to take Jesus by the hand and hold unswervingly to the hope he's promised (hebrews 10:23). for Eleazar, it says in v. 10 that "the Lord brought about a great victory that day." and i have no doubt the same will be for us who attach our lives to Him.

Monday, August 22, 2005


"And who knows that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14b

yesterday in our sunday morning class we discussed the story of Esther (interesting side bar: the book of Esther never mentions/refrences God). i love this story and its key message, as stated in the verse above. in fact, my first sunday ever at Grapevine four years ago i taught on Esther. i suppose it shouldn't suprise me then that this story circulated back into our curriculum on a day that i had a pretty important meeting concerning the future of my ministry. as i met with the elders i could feel all of your prayers and support, and i'm grateful for such a caring family and group of friends. but it was mordecai's words that were ringing the loudest in my heart yesterday, reminding me to make the most of the royal opportunities God grants me. in spite of self-doubt or uncertainty, God calls us to courageously sieze those moments he places in front of us. when opportunity to save lives and make an impact arise we have to step up to the plate like Esther did. even if we feel completely helpless he's assured us he'll be our source of strength. my meeting, and the rest of my day in fact, turned out incredible thanks to Esther and Mordecai.

Lord i pray that you will make me faithful with a few things, so that you will grant me even bigger things for your Kingdom.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


i wanted to see if i could post pictures on here. this is where i was last summer. sitting on a pebble beach loving on kids. i'm saving for and hoping to get a digital camera soon, so there should be more pics to come.
i think it's good to look back on experiences you've had and be reminded of how faithful God's been in your life. that's why i love pictures--little windows into the past, full of memories, lessons, and life. i just finished organizing all my pics from college and the past 3 summers...quite a task. but a fun activity that made me praise God for all he's done, for what he's doing, and for what he'll continue to do.


i love movies. i love the stories they tell, the places they take you, the people they uncover, the adventures they unearth. last night i went to see "March of the Penguins," an incredible documentary following the life of emperor penguins and the obstacles they overcome. as i often do, i found myself in the theatre drawing out spiritual applications and catching glimpses of God's nature (his creation and character) from the story. for instance, the life parent penguins is one of great sacrifice, all for the sake of thier child. males and females march 70 miles to the mating area every year in late summer. once they mate and lay their egg, the mothers must travel back to the ocean for food, covering again 70 or more miles, and this time in more tenacious weather (yeah, they're in antarctica). meanwhile the father keeps the egg on top of his feet covered by his belly, and in the process has to go for more than 4 months without food...4 MONTHS! all in the dead of winter. talk about giving much of themself all for this one egg. (this movie also made me want to adopt a penguin as a pet!)

immediately upon seeing this heroic, consistent task your mind leaps to our Father in heaven, and the sacrifice he made so that we might have life, and have it to the full (john 10:10). this morning as i continue my reading in 2 samuel 21, i found another story of great sacrifice i had never heard. it's the end of david's life and there is a 3-year famine in judah. when david asks God why the Lord tells him it's because saul had put the gibeonites to death. now stay with me here. so david asks the gibeonites how he can make ammends, and they tell him to hand over 7 of saul's descendents to be killed and exposed before the Lord. david chooses 7 of saul's kids and grandkids, hands them over and they are put to death. i know this is a random, but i think it's interesting. once the 7 are dead, a lady named Rizpah who was the mother of 2 of the 7, spent almost a month with the bodies, making sure no bird or beast touch them. night and day she stayed with them--talk about sacrifice. as a result of these sacrifices, God answered their prayers on behalf of the land.

i think about sacrifice a lot; what it means and how to make it a constant part of my life. the Lord has shown me that the greater the cost, the greater the reward. bonhaffer talks about this quite a bit in "cost of discipleship." i desperately want to be a servant of the Lord who sacrifices my will, my comfort, my wants, my self, for the sake of God's kingdom. i want to live a life of sacrifice, for my family, my friends, my kids, even people i don't know. if we live a life that cost us much, we will truly know and understand more of God, and the life and love of his Son.

Friday, August 19, 2005


today i had the great priveledge of eating lunch with chris jacobs. chris is a good friend and one of the most talented, unique people i've ever met. right now he's living in Boston and does marketing/managing in the music industry, along with a number of other extraordinary things. he had a layover in dallas so we spent the better part of 2 hours at a BBQ joint called Bartley's (it's no Joe Allens, but still good for here). it was great to see my friend and dive into each other's lives.

chris often brings a fresh and crisp outlook to our conversations on spirituality and faith. today we were talking about the SoulFest music festival that chris's company puts on in the northeast every year, and how it's one of the few christian music festivals that does not have an "alter call" or "invitation." the reason behind this is simple: the majority of the people at these festivals have heard and answered the call of the gospel in their life (let's say 70 percent of them, but probably more). but that's not all. some people might argue, "well what about the 30 percent who hasn't heard the gospel?" to which chris and his company would anwer, "that's the 70 percent's job." to engage those around them in conversations, to interact with kindness and gentleness, to sacrifice their comfort and time for the sake of obedience, to live out the gospel.

it got me thinking that too often we let put our responsibility as disciples of Christ fall to the guy in the pulpit on sundays. Christ calls us to live a life that testifies to the grace of God (acts 20:24). there are people we come in contact everyday who will never stumble into our sanctuaries on sunday morning. then how are they supposed to hear about the life-giving love of Christ one will ask? we show them, we tell them, and we love them. we don't hesitate, we don't wait for someone else to shoulder our task. we live like Christ, and share his life and love with all we meet. i think chris and the soulfest people are on to something here--just something to think about.