Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Hottest Day of the Year

My day started yesterday in a hospital room visiting one of our members. Then it was north on 59 to the Humble area. On 1960 East I turned into an entrance called Tour 18. It is a unique venue of 18 of the great holes in golf. Every hole is difficult. I played there for the first time in 1997 and I don't think my score has improved on that course in all of these years.

Yesterday was not about a great score for me. I was going to be playing with Jason Crandall and it is always fun to be on a golf course with Jason. Hit hits the ball as hard as anyone I've ever seen and keeps the ball in play. Jason was only +1 for Amen Corner and that is a pretty good feat. I think he scored a 90 with a 44/46.

Like I said, yesterday was not about scoring for me. I knew I was in trouble on the first hole when I had difficulty getting out of a bunker. There were some bright moments, but most of it was not worth writing about. I had a good time with Jason and that made it all worth it.

Talk about HOT yesterday. I thought maybe it was the hottest day that I ever played. It was around 100 with a heat index around 108. It just zapped you of your energy. We used ice water on our faces from time to time and drank lots of fluids, but it didn't seem to hold for the whole 18 holes. On the par 3 17th hole I landed in a green-side bunker AGAIN. I didn't play the last hole.

Am I going out today to a local course? Heavens no. It is suppose to be hotter than yesterday. I love golf, but not on days like this weekend. When I got into my car yesterday and started heading home, my temperature gauge showed 100-101 degrees. It is usually within a degree of the real temperature.

What does this have to do with our spiritual lives? There will be days when we are zapped and our lives feel like we have no strength. Ice water will do no good. Standing in the shade will not help. It feels like you life is falling apart. There is only one anecdote: Dependence on the Lord.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This year's Fourth of July weekend has been great. The whole "family" came over on Saturday for brisket and everything you could put with it. The grand kids played inside and outside to their hearts content and the adults had a wonderful time together.

Yesterday our church had it's annual Freedom Jam. The place was packed with people, lots of tailgating, great music, and great activities for the kids. It has become a huge summer activity for our church and community. A little before nine, we went across the street to the LA Fitness parking lot, which is a little higher in elevation than our church property, to watch the fireworks. It was amazing watching the "dancing eyes" of our grandchildren as they watched the fireworks explode. It was a magical moment to see that surprise in their eyes. It was like seeing a first-time experience through their eyes.

Today is becoming a day of rest. Patti and I are both on our laptops in front of the TV, but tomorrow will bring us back to reality when the normal week returns. I work at the church and Patti has a few things to do as well.

Patti has a big birthday coming up on Friday. It is the big "Six O". She seems much younger than her chronological age. We are going out to dinner on Thursday night with our dear friends of 32 years--Leroy and Sharon Krolczyk. Gosh, Patti would have been 28 then, that's younger than our own children!

I have learned something on our recent journey to Hawaii. Steve Corn, our son-in-law, has me thinking about "risk-taking" this morning. When we did the Zip Line I realized that it was not so hard to jump off of a box 85 feet in the air. If you can't jump, you never zip line. What is important is the journey on the zip line and the landing. The landing is what concerned me the most. Could I land in that small area and stop enough so the "catcher" could do his job? The answer was "Yes", but I was not sure. That was the risk for me.

More than a decade ago, Steve was the Youth Pastor where I served as Senior Pastor. Steve wanted to start a new ministry to the street kids of that city. Many were skateboarders, but most had never been inside a church or influenced by its ministry. Steve has a dream and it was risky. Imagine 200 unchurched teenagers in your church building. Not a big deal?? You've not been where I've been! This was an atmosphere where even picture hanging was controlled by a committee. Two hundred unchurched kids and this kind of control probably did not go together.

A significant number of those teenagers came to Christ. It all started with Steve's dream, but the journey was what was important. The ministry could have come to a sudden halt at several different times during those formative years, but Steve held true in the midst of pressure and assault. Today, many of those young adults are professional church workers like pastors, worship leaders, graphic artists, teachers, missionaries and the like. I know Steve is proud of them. Some adults did not understand, but Steve did. It was all about the journey and "landing on the other side".

Thank you Steve for allowing me to watch and work with a true risk-taker!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fantasy Islands--The Epilogue

The Journey to Hawaii began the first week of August last year. I was sitting at the computer in Orange Beach, Alabama and the thought came to be about taking Patti to Hawaii for our 35th wedding anniversary. Then the thought entered my mind to take the family. I suggested it to Patti and she said, "How?" That became my adventure for the next eleven months.

I made airline reservations for us while we were still on vacation at the beach. We were then committed to at least going to Hawaii. Then came the reservations for an NCL cruise of the islands. That just seemed like the wise thing to do and now we know it was definitely the right decision for us.

Once we had a flight and knew where we were staying(Pride of America), the rest was just research concerning what we were going to do while we were there. That was fun and we all got in on the act. I planned almost every detail, but my family knows that I'm like that. They may laugh at me, but also sort of expect it.

Why did I feel that this was so important? First of all, we wanted the kids with us when we celebrated #35. Second, we thought it would be great for all of us to be together for an extended period of time. As it turned out, it was even without children. Third, we wanted them to experience some time with just their spouses, just relaxing. I think it accomplished those things. I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially if you really enjoy being together as a family.

What could be an encore? I'll keep it to myself for now...

Fantasy Islands--Day #9-10

Saturday/Sunday--June 26-27

On Saturday morning we had breakfast about 7:00 a.m. in a really crowded breakfast area. Everyone was getting ready to leave the ship as soon as they could. It was kind of sad to see this great time come to an end, but it was also reality.

We disembarked about 8:30. It was so easy. It was simple compared to our first cruises in 1986 and 2000. I guess the cruise lines have learned a lot and come a long way since then.

We were met by our excursion company at the exit to the terminal and we boarded a bus for a City Tour and Pearl Harbor. It rained during most of the City Tour, but that was okay. We ended up at Pearl Harbor about 10:30 and remained there until about 3:00. Did we need that much time at Pearl Harbor? No, but that was the way to get a guaranteed ticket to the USS Arizona. The boat ride to the Arizona and viewing it only lasted about 45 minutes, but it was a special place to be. Oil still leaks to the surface every few minutes. It is really an underwater cemetery...a place where over a thousand men gave their lives for their country.

There is also a baby girl buried with all of those sailors. You say, "How?" A sailor and his wife had twin girls. One of them died at birth. The sailor was being transferred to Pearl Harbor. He made arrangements with a chaplain to lay her to rest in the Pacific on the morning of December 7, 1941. The sailor and chaplain boarded the Arizona with the cremated remains of his daughter, but never had the time to do what they intended to do. Months later divers attempted to remove the urn, but it was too dangerous to retrieve it and the urn remains there to this day with her daddy and the chaplain.

We headed to the airport about 3:30. Our flight was scheduled for 9:15 P.M., so we knew we had a long wait. When we checked in, we found that the flight was delayed and was not scheduled to depart until 10:55. We think it finally got away around midnight, but we were offered an earlier flight around 7:20. That was magnificent.

We arrived in Houston the next morning. It had been a long ride. We were lucky to get a couple hours of sleep, maybe in smaller increments. The journey was over, but it was wonderful for our family. We will not soon forget this special time together.

Fantasy Islands--Day #8

Friday--June 25

This was our last full day on the ship. Patti and I walked our two miles like we had been trying to do each day and had breakfast. Then I think I did some more reading, before we met the rest of the family by the pool. I then read some more.

At 2:00 the cruise ship departed the island. The next time it docked would be in Honolulu and the trip would be over. We spent some time packing and then went out on the deck to see the area where Jurassic Park was filmed. It was beautiful.

That evening we had our last meal with Christian, our waiter, who had made some really wise choices for us during the week. He became a special element of our evening meals. After dinner I wanted to do something that I knew would be soothing based on my experience from the last cruise we were on ten years ago. I went to listen to a guy play the piano and sing in the piano bar. It was quiet, peaceful, and relaxing. Patti met me there and we went to a show.

We put our luggage outside our cabin door, where it would be picked up after midnight and went to bed.

Fantasy Islands--Day #7

Thursday--June 24

What could top snorkeling in a cove off the coast of Kona? I am not sure much could top it, but let's look at Thursday. It may not top the snorkeling experience, but it is up there in that area.

We had a really leisure morning on the ship following breakfast. I love to read novels. So I was working on novel by Vince Flynn entitled Act of Treason. My favorite place to read was out on the deck in a deck chair, but I also used the library and our cabin. I did some reading on this particular morning outside. It was refreshing and restful. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Around noon we got a taxi cab and drove to the Zip Line facility. We were all excited, with some of us probably a little anxious. They met us at the front gate and then we walked to a staging area, or a waiting area. It wasn't long until they were setting us up with the gear and giving us an education about zip lining. Then the fun began.

The first thing we did was climb a rope ladder that was probably 60 feet in the air. I did wonder how that would work when we got to the steepest part of the ladder, but it was doable. I didn't have any problem in stepping off into space, but worried about the landing area. There was someone on the other side ready to catch us, but that landing area was pretty small! It went well. Patti "unfroze" and she did very well too.

This was the only Zip Line in Hawaii that once you went up into the trees, you didn't come down for 2.5 hours. You would zip line from tree to tree, usually about 85 feet in the air. You would go use more rope bridges along the way. Most people think that is the scarest part of the experience. I guess it was from my perspective as well, but you are strapped in.

We covered seven zip lines over the next couple of hours, the longest was about 800 feet. I never did have a problem stepping off, but it took me three our four lines to overcome the fear of not hitting that small platform. It was fun. They had snacks waiting for us at the end. We could not have asked for better people helping us enjoy this experience.

Imagine the opportunity to overcome fear two days in a row. Imagine conquering this fear with your family. These were the same people who stood by me through thick and thin. You know what? They did the same thing in the water and up in the trees! It was a great experience for our entire family.