The Sweetness of Vacation

29 06 2008

I just returned from a week of vacation at the beach with my family. It is a trek we take every year with my wife’s family and it was a great week. Couple of observations from this week that don’t refer to “getting away from it all.”

– When traveling on I-4, thanks for the Garmin.
– When traveling with a lot people, thanks for the headphones.
– When you hang with people who are alive and growing, there is never a shortage of stories.
– The spray on sunscreen is amazing and works wonderfully.
– The spray on sunscreen is gone in two days – so you better stock up.
– Ice cream at a 55 year old Dairy Queen is still mighty sweet!
– When you are over your head in the ocean, you have two options: kick or relax. Both work beautifully at the right time.
– Body surfing with your son – priceless!
– Seeing cousins and family for the first time in years – amazing and fun. (More stories)
– Looking a crab in the eye from six inches away is cool.
– Swimming in swarms of jellyfish and not getting stung is weird. (Want to live the moment – dump a jello mold in your bathtub and see what you do when it touches your arm.)
– The countless talks “under the umbrella.”
– Picking up “The Shack” to read what it is all about to find yourself tear stained and humbled.
– To pray, sleep and get suntanned without leaving your beach chair is not only cool, but way efficient.
– Getting the “Abby Road” picture to work like I saw it in my mind, yeah baby!
– Seeing the family without too many interuptions – the best!



Father’s Day Delight

15 06 2008

I am writing this in the quiet morning of Father’s Day. Everyone in my family is asleep (minus Lizzie, who wakes with me each morning.) I just read an article about what Dads love to get on Father’s Day. It made me wonder about what brings me the greatest joy of being a father. It happened last night.

After Saturday evening services, I went home in a wet bathing suit and shirt because we did baptisms during and after services. (Which is still one of the greatest joys in my experiences of being a pastor. I love seeing people get baptized.) I entered to a house full of kids (mine included) playing games and having fun. My wife and I got invited to join in and before I knew it, it was 11:00 and I was still up and still in my soaked bathing suit. What struck me is how much I love just being with my kids. If I spent an evening playing games, watching a movie, going to dinner, watching them use their talents ~ then, that would be a full day. My greatest joy in being a father is now to see what they bring to the table each day.

Already they are into a new stage of life where they are forging ahead on their own. It is time and I can appreciate all that lies before them. I will miss nights like last night when they are gone. Until then, we eat, we play, we love and we laugh…because we can.

A true Father’s Day delight!

God Does Have a Sense of Humor

8 06 2008

Who can tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor…

A couple months ago, I joined the ranks of the Facebook crowd. My reason for joining was to see what was going on with my daughters, since they were already on. They liked the idea and I was quickly added as a friend. (I gained a whole bunch of their friends as well. Wow!)

Fast forward to last Thursday. I am talking with my mom and she asks me about Facebook. She is telling me how my aunt has joined and connected with a bunch of people from her highschool. My mom ends up joining and invites me to be a friend. (Does this border on insanity…my mom asking to be my friend on a computer site!?) Now, I haven’t done anything on my profile and I end up adding my high school so I can see if anybody from my class is on.

That’s when I saw it…

When I would teach children’s church, I shared a story about a fellow classmate who was coming down the hall one day. His arms were filled with books and he was just like one of the smartest kids in the class should look like. Glasses, books, busy hallways and before you knew it – books and papers all over the place. Being the strong Christian I was back then, I looked at him, the books, the papers and then my friends….and turned my back and walked away. I always shared the shame I felt in turning my back when I could have reached out to someone in need. I received the approval of my friends but not myself. I concluded that story many times by saying, “if I ever see that guy again, I would ask him to forgive me.”

I looked at the screen and saw his name. It flashed at me and I could feel the emotion of the moment all over again. I began writing a note to someone I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. Brief as it was, I shared the experience and asked him to forgive me. I sent it with a sense of relief, joy and embarrassment. Later that day, I received a note back with a blessing of forgiveness, warmth and wit. It made my day.

Go figure…facebook, teenagers, mom on the internet, high school look up, email over hundreds of mile, forgiveness…yes Virginia, God does have a sense of humor.

I dont want to do the right thing anymore…

2 06 2008

Recently, I was talking with a close friend who challenges me to grow. Although we live over a thousand miles apart, when we talk he dives into my world and I learn so much. He asked a simple question this time. “How is your relationship with God going?” Before I could formulate the standard answer of “good, I am growing,” I blurted out a different response. “I don’t want to what is right anymore, instead I want to do what God’s will is for me today.” This is a theme that is been at work for some time and still is fresh today.

In my relationship with God, I found that I gravitated to obeying God’s rules. The Ten Commandments, lessons in the Bible and words of admonishments to act a certain way all led me to live a life that is honoring to God in my heart and actions. I don’t look back and think I missed it. I think it has given me a solid foundation in my Christian walk that has spared me so many heartaches and disappointments. I find that God is opening up a new chapter. The focus is not on being right as much as it is to know His heartbeat. My obedience to God wont change mainly because His will isn’t going to contradict His heart. However, I will not be focused on doing what is right. Instead, I will be focused on knowing the heart and will of God for me that day.
As I began down this road a short time ago, I find myself changing. I am not as focused on details as I am people. I am less about the process and more on the impact on people. I am less critical of unmet expectations and I find myself wondering how I am growing through the journey. I am in my infancy stages of understanding what God is doing but the cool thing is that I am on a journey that captivates my heart.

One step at a time…