Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Russ!

Yesterday evening, Alan, Charles, Gary, Jeff, Paul and I played at Russ Logan's 80th birthday party, at the invitation of Russ' wife, Carolee.   Alan was roaring hot on his Tele, and we had a great time.  We sang in the formal living room, and people either walked through, or sat in folding chairs to take in the concert.

Russ is the "papa" of our band, playing mandolin, guitar and 6-string banjo.  But this night was for Russ, so he was part of the audience, cheering us on.   In the picture at the top of this blog, he is the dark haired gentlemen immediately to my left, playing the mandolin.   

Truth is . . . none of us in the band knew Russ was that old!  He doesn't look 80, he doesn't act 80, and he sure as heck doesn't play like he is 80.  He is still a very young man in heart and spirit.  As an engineer for Texas Instruments for many years, he accumulated over three type written pages of patents.  His family is one of the esteemed musical families of West Texas.  His late brother, Homer, was a world class country western swing fiddler, and his brother, Tex, has been one of the best bluegrass fiddlers along the east coast.   Russ holds his own with mandolin and guitar.

80 years old!  C'mon, no way!

Happy birthday Russ!  We all love and appreciate you so much.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hmmmm ... could it be I am at a "crossroads?"

It seems to me that what I wrote about on Wednesday  describes how I handled my coming to a crossroads of sorts.

When we come to a crossroads situation in life, whether big or small, it most always requires us to make a decision . . . a choice . . . about something.

Usually, the choice is about what we will do about what we face.  What direction we will go.  What steps we will take.

The decision we make when we come to a crossroads, often reflect our character.  Decisions we make when we come to a crossroads often reflect the depth of our faith and trust in God, family, neighbors and friends.

Most often, decisions we face at a crossroads . . . reflect the trust we have in ourselves.

Crossroads are often an opportunity to renew our minds, hearts, lives, and spirits.

I just re-read Psalm 51, our 10+10 scripture from this past Sunday.

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I can see the top of my desk . . .

Yesterday, I came to realize that I am, and have been for some time, a bit out-of-control.

Call it fatigue, call it spiritual emptiness, call it what you will . . . but I knew I had lost some of my focus.

Specifically . . . I have been wasting a lot of time.


Now, remember, I am a visually stimulated card-carrying extrovert. At times, yes I admit it, I am like the moth flying toward the light . . . "Oh look at that! It's so beautiful." I have to work hard at staying focused on things . . . mentally, visually, spiritually.

Experts write that "time management is the key to gaining your professional and relational focus!"

Funny thing about time management . . . THERE IS NO SUCH THING!

Fact: We all have the same 24 hours a day . . .

Fact: We all have the same 1,440 minutes a day . . .

Fact: We all have the same 86,400 seconds a day.

Each and every day.

Time can't be managed. To manage time implies you can control time or bend it to your will.

Such, alas, is not, and never has been the case.

I guess when you get to be my age (52 on May 7th), you start learning more of the important life truths that you failed to understand in earlier years.

Today's life truth: Life is not about "time" management. It is about "self" management.

For me . . . there came the painful revelation that I have gotten a bit lazy in regards to "personal self" management. Today, I put a plan in action to correct that.

Operation "Improve My Want-To!" went into effect this morning.

-I cleaned off my desk (the top of my desk is black??? Since when??).

-I simplified my calendar (I only need one calendar).

-I got my daily workbook (a hardcover spiral) back out (it was like meeting a long-lost friend).

-I re-identified what is important to me.

-I remembered again and claimed my God-given gifts and strengths.

-I remembered again and claimed . . . my call . . . and my life mission.

The "result" . . . well for most of today . . . the result has been increased clarity and focus.

Thank you Lord!

The "issue-at-hand" however . . . is to intentionally want-to remember who and what I live for . . . that my relationship with Christ and my calling are my foundation for ALL that I strive to do . . . tomorrow, and the next day and the next . . . on a daily and weekly basis.

It's time to be about managing my "self". The distractions, clutter, and wishy-washiness of my life lately . . . were all my choice. But, I know how to deal with this. I've done it before, I can do it again.

I choose to simplify . . . I choose faith . . . I choose to offer my "self" as a sacrifice holy and pleasing to God.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Confirmation Sunday . . .

Yesterday, it was my distinct honor and privilege to help welcome 33 confirmands into full membership in our church.   This beautiful group of 6th graders are a great bunch of kids, and our love for them and their families is so deep.  

It had to be a hard day for Nathan, our Children's Pastor, as he said goodbye to such a special group.  And Jenny, our Youth Ministry Director, who led this children through the confirmation process, and into the youth group  . . . what a day for her as well.

It has been many years since either of my daughters went through confirmation . . . so perhaps some of the specialness of the day is lost on me . . . until today, when I read Lorie Payne's blog.

Please read it . . . and share how special yesterday's Confirmation Sunday was to one of our church families.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring flowers . . .

Although not the best of spring flower seasons as compared to past years, I have been enjoying the Bluebonnets, Indian Paint Brush, Primrose, Buttercups and other Texas wildflowers along the sides of our Texas roads and highways, and in the flower gardens in area homes (like my front yard!)

One of the joys of spring in Texas . . . is watching the wildflowers bloom, and watching the Mesquite trees bud out . . . a sure sign that winter is over and gone.

By the way, the Mesquite trees are budding.   C'mon Spring!  

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday . . .

Despite Texas early morning thunderstorms we had a wonderful Easter Sunday at the church today. We had almost 1,000 in attendance at the 10:10 AM service, and the Hispanic Service went over 50 in attendance.

I stand in awe of God's amazing grace and all the people who felt called to be in worship today.

Great music.
Great preaching.
A cute children's time (if I do say so myself.)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, April 10, 2009

A needed walk . . . and God's presence.

I went for a much needed prayer walk (hike) this past Wednesday. My hope was to get away from the office in time to change at home, and then hike a section of the shoreline on Lake Grapevine. But alas, I got home later than I had hoped to arrive, so I ended up walking through a city park in Euless that meanders between Fuller-Wiser Road and Hwy 360.

Since I knew that over half the hike would be in the dark, I carried a lumbar pack, with flashlight, house keys and cell phone, and off I went.

That I prayed while I walked is not entirely accurate. I hadn't walked hard in over a month . . . and I wanted to walk the trail I used to ride with my bike. Knowing that darkness would mean less people (and with the exception of 4 guys walking their dogs, I didn't see anyone else after dark) I set out and walked 7,130 steps . . . mostly off trai; . . . and just tried to reconnect with nature . . . and the order of things.

First, I noticed that I got out-of-breath very quickly . . . I've been nursing some allergies lately . . . and it felt like my bronchial tubes were constricted . . . but not that I could not control my breathing with some effort. I concentrated hard on inhaling and exhaling . . . and found a rhythm that worked. My breathing began to match the pace of my stride, and I began to get more c comfortable.

Then I began noticing that there are a lot of little yellow butterflies in the park . . . and that they are somewhat active as dusk and darkness approach. One landed on the top of my walking stick, and rode for a while as I continued down the trail. When I look down several minutes later, after crossing a bridge . . . the butterfly was gone. As I turned around . . . he was flittering down into the creek bed.

Part of this trail runs behind and below a rather large 3-story apartment complex off Bear Creek. I noticed the flood lights filtering through the trees . . . and how the trees with new growth leaves . . . were an almost gold color in the light. As the breeze picked up, the leaves quivered, and the gold turned into a orange tinged rust color, then would flicker back to gold.

Awesome. That made me stop . . . and I knew I needed to rest for a few minutes. So I watched the lights and the leaves. Felt proud of myself for taking a few moments at least, to stop and look and something beautiful . . . something I would have missed driving by in my car.

A little before the half way point of the walk . . . darkness had fallen . . . it was cloudy Wednesday evening, and I thought darkness was coming early . . . perhaps that thought was poignant considering Maundy Thursday services last night, and Good Friday services which finished just an hour ago.

The trail I was walking is made of fine crushed rock . . . I call it a "cinder trail" but can tell you why. In the fading light . . . it glowed, in a faint sort of way . . . even in sections where the trees covered the trail . . . I never lost sight of the trail . . . so I went deeper into the trees than I planed . . . walking close to a creek, but hearing no noise of water . . . as the creek was running very slowly.

The hike back to my car . . . it was dark. And to tell you the truth . . . darkness is still spooky to me sometimes. But not Wednesday evening . . . I actually felt like I could see through the darkness . . . I was calm . . . I was not anxious at all about the darkness, and the many, many shadows . . . I kept my stride long and my pace constant . . . and felt secure the whole time.

I also felt . . . that although I was the only person on the trail for most of the hike . . . I was never alone. Toward the end, my chest was really burning . . . and I knew I needed to take my regular nightly dose of allergy meds when I got home . . . but I knew I had the strength to finish. If not in me, that strength was there with me if I needed to call for it.

As I neared the parking lot where my car was parked, I passed one of the usually most noisiest places in the park, a large and artfully built play ground. In the afternoon and early evening hours . . . it will be teaming with kids climbing, sliding and swinging, as their parents watch while sitting on nice benches just a few feet away. However, as the time neared 9 PM on a school night . . . is was quiet.

I noticed the quiet. It was that "loud." It made me stop . . . and look around.

It was dark . . . a little bit of light from a street lamp across the parking lot slightly illuminated the bottom of the playground, but not the top or the area behind the playground . . . it was still . . . and that is when I first think I heard the still small voice O sometimes hear inside of me . . . what I believe is God's voice . . . saying . . . "that was a great walk. Let's do it again soon!"

I walk to hear God's voice. I walk when I need to pray. I walk when I need to think and clear my mind of clutter and worry.

Sometimes, like last Wednesday . . . I just needed to walk, and walk hard, just because I needed to. And in doing so . . . I s felt God's presence.

On Wednesday night . . . God just being there with me was all I needed.

Sunday is coming!

This was sent to me by one of our church members. On this Good Friday . . . let us all have and keep our hope.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Anticipation and Expectation . . .

Ah . . . Holy Week. Beginnin with Palm Sunday, and ending with Easter morning.

Our respective spiritual journeys during the season of Lent have gotten us to this place.

Tomorrow night . . . Maundy Thursday . . . and we share in the Lord's Supper.

Friday night . . . we gather together, and as the choir sings . . . we remember that before Easter morning, there was a darkness of deepest proportions . . . as the Son of God was nailed to a cross.

And yet to come . . . Easter morning!

This year . . . I am experiencing a sense of anticipation I have not felt during the season of Lent in some time.

The reason for this?

Well, I can't seem to put my finger on it.

Perhaps this has more to do with intuition . . . spiritual intuition . . . perhaps personal as I deal with the spiritual stumbling blocks in my own life . . . or corporate . . . as our church expands our 1-mile ministry effforts further into the community.

An anticipation . . . perhaps expectation . . . that Easter this year means not so much something different . . . but rather . . . something new.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, April 3, 2009

Traumatic Stress is alive and well . . .

I attended a seminar today on identifying symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorders) and appropriate treatments. During the course of the seminar,  the presenter shared his theory that many, many people experience  different levels of trauma on an almost daily basis.

Then, I got to drive back home in 5:30 PM Dallas, Texas traffic.   I remember reading a newspaper article that Dallas drivers are considered some of the meanest in the country. 

I can safely say I feared for my life a couple of times on my way back home . . . I learned today that fearing for one's life is a symptom of Traumatic Stress.

So, I guess I agree with the presenter at today's seminar.   

I honestly believe that I am, in some sense, a spiritual person.  In other words, I prayed for the drivers of a lot of cars on the way home today.

Hope I was driving in a way that didn't endanger anyone.  

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>