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.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.