Thursday, November 22, 2012

Go Home

Last month I took four separate trips, three by car.   Like just about everyone else on the road I own a GPS.  Amazing technology, I have no real idea how it works except that it uses satellites to pin point our location and guide us to places we want to go.  How cool is that??  I Simply enter my destination, give her (I use a female voice, so..) a moment and she guides me along the way.  Don’t know the address?  No worries, click on Points of Interest, type in the name of the location and she searches for me.  Run into traffic, click on Detour and she finds me another route.  Works perfectly the vast majority of the time, I have no idea how we got along without her.  I even have that technology on my phone.  I’m almost certain you do too.

This week God brought this to mind.  And, I haven’t been able to lose this thought ever since.  I think so many times I use my relationship with Christ like I do my GPS.  I talk to God and I expect Him to tell me how to get where I want to go.  Except, that’s not who God is.  He tells me where I need to go, whether I want to, or not.  Big difference.  

The reminder for me may be best expressed in one of  God’s “I AM” statements.  God tells us “I am the Good Shepard.”  He doesn’t simply want to be my life coach or on my board giving me input, encouraging me and helping me along the way.    As long as I want God to serve as a consultant, it’s never really going to work out.  God has one singular spot in my life, and that’s as my leader.  He’s in charge, He’s the Shepard.  He wants me to understand that He is the one that is able to tell me where my life needs to go.  Message heard.

I think all of this came out of a comment I’ve made several times, “my favorite button on my GPS is the one labeled ‘Go Home’”.  Because no matter where I am, in familiar surroundings or totally lost, I can click Go Home, and she takes me there.  The place I am most comfortable, best known and loved.  Going home is great, and after a long trip there’s no better feeling.  In similar fashion, when life goes bad, when I make terrible decisions, when I fail God and those I love, somehow God takes me to a place when I’m willing to come in repentance, where I can find rest and peace.  

God wants me and you to know that He is the Good Shepard, and if we will trust Him, He will lead us into the life we were created to live.  Jesus said I am the Good Shepard, follow me.  I’ll use my GPS to get around on trips, but I’ll listen to God’s voice to get around in my life.  

Happy Thanksgiving!  I'll see you soon.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


This post was originally written for Pathways earlier this month.

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.  Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.  2 Corinthians 9:10-11

In 1946 a simple man from a modest upbringing started a business in a suburb of Atlanta, and for many years his business had slow but steady growth.  The man set out to honor God with his business, and based all of his business practices on biblical principles.  In 1981 my father went into business with this man.  The work was demanding, but rewarding.  

Unfortunately, a year later my father had still not realized a profit.  We lived in a rented home, and had all but exhausted our life savings.  My dad requested a meeting with his business partner, traveled to Atlanta and explained that even though he was proud of the business and loved what he was doing, he would not be able to support his family much longer.

His partner, the founder of the business told him he was doing a great job, to be patient, work hard and continue to grow the business.  He then took out his checkbook and wrote my dad a check.  As he handed the check to my dad he asked him if it would be enough to see us through.  My dad looked at the amount, and said yes sir.  I’ll probably never know the amount of that check, but I’ll never forget the impact it had on my family.

My dad went on to a 27 year career, and retired very successfully.  

The founder of the company has grown the business from one location to over 1600, and 2011 annual sales were over 4 billion dollars.  He operates 12 foster homes, a camp for boys and girls, a marriage enrichment center, and has given millions of dollars in college scholarships to employees.  He has taught sunday school to 13 year old boys for more than 50 years, and he created a foundation that will touch young lives well into the future.  

He does all of this without any fanfare, and no desire for recognition.  He does this because he knows all he has actually belongs to God, he is simply God’s manager.  God continues to richly bless his business.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rachel Turns 21!

21 years ago today God blessed us with Rachel.  Full of life, a gentle spirit, kind, beautiful inside and out, truly joyful.  You have never given us a moments disappointment.  I love you very much.  Happy Birthday my sweet girl!

PS: The friend is Devon Diaz.  He's alright (dad speak).  =)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This Journey's Not My Own

A little over four months ago I began a concerted effort to improve my wellness.  Most of my adult life I've struggled with my weight.  There have been highs and lows, seasons where I would diet and lose weight, but inevitably I'd gain it all back and then some.  Frankly, it's never bothered me enough to work on it all that seriously.

But in April that changed.   I boarded a flight from Tallahassee to Atlanta, and as is often the case, it was one of those small regional jets.  Fine by me since the flight is well under an hour.  But this time was different.  I grabbed my seat belt, extended it as far as possible, but to save me, I couldn't buckle it. [sigh] Are you kidding me??  How did I let this happen?  While I was trying to decide what in the world I was going to do, the sweet little old lady next to me leaned over and said, "I think you can ask for an extension."  Really; did you just say that to me right now??  I thanked her just the same,  inhaled and with much effort, finally buckled my belt.  Thankfully it was a short flight, because I was miserable, not to mention embarrassed.

I decided that day to do something about it.  In the last four months I've lost over 40 pounds, and I'm feeling great.  I pay very close attention to what and when I eat.  

Lake Ella                                                                    Photo:Mine
Usually four to five days a week I head over to Lake Ella, a public park near our home to walk.  The wide sidewalk  around the lake is 6/10 of a mile.  Most days I manage to walk/jog 3-5 miles.  Admittedly many days my head is down, I'm out of breath, and just hoping I can make it to the next 'crack' in the sidewalk.  They can't be more than 10' apart, but honestly, sometimes making it 10 more feet is all I can manage to imagine.

Then a funny thing happened one day.  Someone passed me.  Now that's not really all that unusual, but this time it wasn't one of those models wearing the newest spandex outfit practicing for the next marathon.  Rather someone older, larger, and more female than me.   I watched her run by, and about 30 seconds later my competitive juices kicked in.  Without knowing it, she had just entered a race where I was the only other racer.  I raised my head, picked up my pace, stopped feeling sorry for myself and worked to catch her.  As I passed her I realized that without her even knowing it, she had inspired me to be better.  Just the fact that she was out there working, perhaps on the same issues that had plagued me for years, pushed me to try a little bit harder.

I've been thinking about this ever since.  We were not meant to go through this life alone.  After all, no sooner had God created man, He created a helper for him.  This time I have some people helping me along, and it's making all the difference.  No shots, pills or plans.  Just "eat less and move more," as my friend Mark likes to say.

This Sunday my church begins what has become an annual highlight we call Pathways.  This year it's called Pathways Personified.  A 40 day journey we take together.  We read a daily devotional, written by our community for our community, Pastors lead the conversation each Sunday, and those that choose to, meet locally in growth groups during the week to take the conversation deeper.  Pathways has become very meaningful, just knowing my community is on the same page, meeting together, learning together, living out one of our values, "doing life together."

This journey's not my own, and I'm really glad.  To my Tallahassee friends, if you don't have a church home why not check out mine?  We meet Sundays on Mahan Drive across from Costco at 9:30, 11 or 7.  We have great coffee, music and conversation every week.  Come experience this place we call ELEMENT3 or E3 for short. You don't need a denomination, membership or specific attire.  Just come as you are.  Come Sunday, pick up a devotional and join us in the journey.  You and I weren't meant to do life alone, and we don't have to.

And, if you'd enjoy a good walk, you can find me most evenings at Lake Ella.  Come walk with me, we won't race, I promise.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Writing The Next Chapter

I attended a concert Friday, it was unlike any I've ever heard and without a doubt the best I've ever been to.   It was called "A Concert of Prayer," and I had no idea what to expect when I arrived.  We had driven to West Palm Beach on Wednesday to take our daughter Rebecca to college.  She is attending Palm Beach Atlantic University, and has been looking forward to it for more than a year.  This was welcome week, and after move in day the school had several days of activities planned for students and parents.  For mom and dad, events were to end Friday, while they kept the students busy through Sunday evening.

For the most part, the activities for the parents were informative in nature.  I think mainly they were meant to give us peace about leaving our daughter in their care.  If in fact that was the mission, they did a nice job.  To be honest, I knew when we attended an open house in the spring last year, that chances were good this would be Becca's choice for college.  This week turned out to be my third visit to the school, but it didn't take three visits for me to be at peace with her decision.   We like the school, and the people.   I have no doubt that she is where she is meant to be, and it's a great fit for her.

   Photo: Mine                                   H.S.  Graduation Day 2012
It was the last two activities scheduled for the parents that caught my eye.  The first was called "Writing the next chapter."  They had assembled a panel, mostly of parents of older students, all who had been through what we were about to go through.  Even though I had months to process the fact that my youngest was moving out of my home, it was much, much harder for me than I thought it would be.  So, writing the next chapter was not something I've been looking forward to, in fact I'm struggling to deal with it here.  The session was informative and clearly some parents had an easier time than others.  For me, it didn't help all that much.

Following that session, we transitioned into the concert I mentioned.  A leader stepped up and asked us all to circle our chairs into small groups of 6 or 8.  Then he gave us a topic and a few minutes to pray.  Different ones in our group took turns praying.  After several minutes, he would close out that section by praying himself, then give us another topic.  We prayed for our kids, their professors, the classes, campus security, for roommates, for those that might struggle with loneliness, and many other relevant things.  We prayed for about an hour.  It seemed like 10 minutes.

Normally I'm not one that struggles to pray in public, but I couldn't open my mouth.  I found the process to be so emotional, that I literally had to excuse myself and find some tissues before returning.   I'm thinking, you are 49 years old, you knew this day was coming, she's less than 7 hours away from home, besides you are practically going to see her monthly this first semester, now man up!  I didn't.  I just kept blowing my nose, wiping my tears, hoping that everyone else had their eyes closed.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I got it.  With over 100 people in small groups, all simultaniously praying, it was a concert.  A concert of prayer.  Since I couldn't seem to open my mouth,  I listened.  To those in my group, the groups around ours and others further out.  No instruments, no audience,  but a concert just the same.  Just voices, talking to our heavenly father.  Then without warning, I felt it.  I felt the peace God promises when we focus on Him.  In fact, Isaiah called it "perfect peace" (Isaiah 26:3).

Frankly, this next chapter will still be a struggle for me.  But one that will keep me on my face before my Father, and I don't think that's bad.  I think He's ok with that, and I'll be ok with Becca growing up.  I think.

Speaking of growing up, today is Becca's 18th birthday.  Happy Birthday my sweet girl.  I love you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Golden Anniversary

Today we celebrate a major milestone, my parents 50th wedding anniversary!  Absolutely amazing.  Being just over half way there myself, it really strikes me what a big deal it is.  After dinner we sat down and listened to stories about the way things were and such, and as my dad talked I was thinking don't take this for granted.  It was a real treat, reminiscing about how they met, their first date, getting through college, having a child (me) before graduation, the various jobs they held, all the stuff that makes up a life time together.

My parents have done it right.  It hasn't been easy, in fact we didn't reminisce the disagreements, arguments or frustrations.  I know there was plenty of that.  I also know that's not what stands out in their minds, or mine.  My parents have modeled an authentic Godly marriage.  Plenty of highs, plenty of lows, but never wavering in the commitment they made before God and man.  One man, one women, one lifetime.  Just as God intended.

Here's to my parents, Dave and Karen, and to many, many more years together.  I'm inspired by you.  I love my daughters and my wife more because of your example.  Thank you for never giving up.  Thank you for teaching me everything that matters.  Dad, thank you for loving mom.  Mom, thank you for loving dad.  Thank you both for living a life that honors our creator.

I love you!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What a beautiful day!

It's Saturday, and it's beautiful.  Not a cloud in the sky, temperatures in the upper 60's, I mean it's a perfect day for just about anything I can imagine doing.  Today I enjoyed a leisurely walk around Lake Ella with Bear, our four year old Yorkie.  I sipped a nice Americano from the Black Dog Cafe while I watched the ducks and turtles in the lake,  and enjoyed lunch with my family outside on the patio back at the house.  As I write, I'm alone on the patio with my Macbook, a hot cup of coffee and I can hear the water running in our small fish pond.  I mean, it's a nice day.

It's not just any Saturday though, it's the day between Jesus' death and resurrection.  Somehow in my mind I couple the two things and I wonder what that day was like all those years ago.  I think I could understand if it was one of those rainy, dark, stay inside all day depressing kind of days.  How fitting that might have been.  Jesus had just been killed, His small band of followers scattered.  What's to celebrate?  Who cares if it rains.

Instead, I choose to believe that it was a day just like today.  I don't know for sure, but I could see how the religious rulers of the day might have enjoyed a bbq and a cold one.  They had just put down this uprising, and were welcoming a return to the status quo.  I think some of the followers of Christ held out hope, while others were just glad it wasn't them in that cave.  I think the sun came out bright on that Saturday, as if God were saying it's ok, everything will be all right.  Yesterday was dark, but tomorrow is a new day.

Just thinking out loud.

      Montenegro                                                                              photo:mine   

"His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise.  Rays of light flash from his hands,
  where his awesome power is hidden."   Habakkuk 3:4