Monday, June 16, 2008

Vacation In Progress

I am on vacation. I have not been off since last Christmas, so this time off is great. The weekend has been wonderful. We celebrated Father's Day on Saturday and had four fathers present for the event. It was Steve's first time to celebrate it as a father. I cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and Patti made potluck potatoes and her bean dish to go with it. We ended the day with nine of us playing Balderdash.

This was the weekend of the U.S. Open and I think the first time it was shown in prime time. We watched it Saturday and Sunday night and then because I was on vacation, I got to see the play-off today. I guess that is the most golf that I've got to see in a long time. Miranda hung right in there with me.

Tomorrow morning Patti and I leave for San Francisco. I cut the grass yesterday in the middle of the afternoon when it was 99 degrees. Man, was it ever hot. I just kept taking breaks and drinking water. Today I completed all the final details for our trip. I am looking forward to getting away for a few days and leaving behind my weekly routine. I think we will enjoy every moment of being a tourist in and around San Francisco Bay! I have our tours lined up, but also plenty of free time to use as we are moved to do so.

I'll get back on here again starting Monday, June 23.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Is Always Full of Surprises

Once temperatures reach 95-100 degrees we wonder if summer is here to stay and that is usually the case. We enter the month of June and hear about the hurricane forecasts. If nine storms turn into hurricanes, what are the chances that one will hit the Texas coast? If we have not had a direct hit in a couple of decades, doesn't each passing year increase out odds? The weather is always a concern along the coast.

Television journalists tell us that not as many people will be traveling this summer. They are saying that gasoline could be over $5.00 a gallon by the 4th of July. That prospect should keep even more people at home. The surprise of this summer may not be storms, but the increasing cost of fuel.

We are preparing for our first Alpha Course which will be kicked-off on September 7. So, the rest of the summer will be spent getting us ready for it. We will also be offering our second Abundant Life University starting on the same day. That, too, will take many man-hours to roll out. I am excited about what I see on the horizon and a little nervous at the same time.

Next week Patti and I are leaving for San Francisco(I booked and paid for the trip long before jet fuel escalated). We are going to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary while we are out there. We will do all the tourist stops. In fact, I've already have a City Tour with Muir Woods included and a night tour of Alcatraz. I've got a few surprises up my sleeve, but I'll wait until I get back to share that with you. Remember, summer is always full of surprises.

I really am leading up to something. It doesn't really matter where you go this summer. You might even stay at home, but get out of the routine of everyday living. I usually work six days a week. I am looking forward to being out of that routine for about nine days. I will enjoy it one day at a time and I'll laugh as much as possible. My days of taking things so seriously dropped by the wayside about five years ago.

What about you? Are you living in Tomorrow Land, or are you really in the present? Are you so serious about life that it has you stressed out and your tongue stays chalky pink? I want to challenge you to get out of that rat race. If that is hard to understand, then maybe it does not pertain to you. Stop and smell the roses...look at the green the birds...and see what is going on around you.

I hope your summer is full of good surprises!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Someone Is Missing in the Picture

When you look at our family picture there are two people missing. One is Kallie Grace Mathews, our newest grandchild, who was born on March 25. The picture was taken just before her birth. Kallie is doing just great. Patti is taking care of her this week while Tiffany is finishing her school year.

The other missing person in the picture is Patti's mother, Nan. She will be celebrating her 83rd or 84th birthday on June 14 and then will be out here with us beginning July 1. Nan is the matriarch of our family on the east side of the Mississippi and Patti is the matriarch west of the Mississippi.

I have been a part of Nan's family since I was 29 years old, but she had an impact on me before I ever met her or her daughter. She was on the Nominating Committee of our mega church back in Mobile and she recommended me to teach a Sunday school class, which I did and continued to do until we left for seminary.

Nan is an extraordinary woman. She is, in all likelihood, the most extraordinary woman that I have ever met and she became my mother-in-law 33 years ago. Then she became like a mother to me, yet even more. Over the years I have been able to talk with Nan about anything. I can discuss ministry with her at any level and I know that she understands and will have something enlightening to say about it.

Nan has headed up the Visitor's Center at her church for more than 40 years. When I met her, she was contacting every visitor every Sunday afternoon. It took the whole afternoon to contact all of those people. She would write down volumes of info about each family and turn it in to the pastor and Music Director. As a result, the choir grew from about 50 to well over 200 during a short period of time and people joined in droves.

Patti and I left for seminary in January 1976. We were from a fast-growing Southern Baptist Church, but I felt like something was missing. We were all about evangelism, but there was something missing. I enrolled in seminary and it was all about evangelism. I latched onto Pastoral Care and knowing that it was missing in my church back home, I thought I found the missing link. That still wasn't it.

In late 1983 I accepted my first pastorate after serving three churches in other staff positions, including leading evangelism. I went to my first national church conference in January 1984. It was there that I discovered the world of discipleship. I went home to my church that probably average 100 and began discipling them. They followed and they grew.

Over the next four pastorates I expanded the concept of discipleship until it stood hand in hand with evangelism. How could it not? It was now in its rightful place, both in my mind and in the body of Christ.

Why did I tell you this and what does it have to do with Nan. It is all because of Nan. She taught me when I was still "green" about what people needed and how the church needed to get off its duff and do something that would change and mature spiritual lives. Nan has been like a mother and pastor-friend for the last four decades. She has been a fellow-struggler with me and unconditionally loved and accepted me all of these years.

Nan is coming to be with us for a couple of weeks. It will be holy ground around here, but Nan is as real as anybody that you have ever met. God made her that way and as a result, people listen. I can't thank her enough. Every time I come up with a new idea in discipleship, I can't help bu think of the impact she has had on my life. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Weekend With Family

I have not written anything in about three weeks and that seems like forever. I am back to working three complete shifts per week at The Home Depot on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. They had cut one of my days out for awhile, or gave me six hour shifts. So this has been an adjustment. I am still at the church on Tuesday, Wednesday, and of course, Sunday. Maybe I can get back in my groove again.

This was one of those wonderful weekends that we all experience from time to time. Patti and I had all three grandchildren on Friday night. Then Jared arrived, followed by Steve and Miranda, who spent the night with us. Sometime on Friday night we decided to go to the Zoo together on Saturday.

I had not been to the Houston Zoo in probably 15-20 years, or maybe even longer. I didn't know the place. It had changed that much. Reid, our two-year old, is really into pictures of animals in all of his books. He was just amazed at what he saw and could name every animal.

When we were in the Big Cat House, there was a lion asleep with his head right up against the glass. I had never seen a lion that up-close. It was interesting watching him breathe and just taking in his huge body and paws. Looking into his face was awesome. If it was that good looking into the face of a lion up close, think what it will be like to look into the face of God!

I guess one of my biggest fears is snakes, so I had to go into the snake house. Tiffany, our daughter-in-law didn't think much of the idea, but I had to go. I saw a South American Bushmaster, a Puff Adder (that kills more humans in Africa than any other snake), and many more that I can't think of right now. I just can't stand snakes, but you can see that I was drawn to them. Remember one thing as you're laughing...there was glass between me and the snakes!

After three hours we decided that we had all had enough and headed home. It was a great time for the whole family to be together. Jared made a comment. He said, "If you had told me ten years ago that I'd be married with two children and spending Saturday at the Zoo with the whole family, I would never have believed it!" Life is full of surprises and we had a great time together.

The day was not over. We cooked fajitas and topped it off with Banana Splits. It was a wild day.

My family is really understanding the importance of "family". I believe God gave us to each other. What a gift!! One month from now, Patti's mother is coming out from Alabama for a couple of weeks. The family will expand by one generation...won't that be great!

Take your family to another level and enjoy each moment with them. Life flys by. Learn to live one day at a time and teach them the same thing.