Sunday, May 29, 2005

Lots Going On, Not Writing Much

Wow, compared to previous months, it seems like I'm not writing much right now. It's not that nothing is going on, I guess that we're just busy and not that much seems exciting enough to write about.

We've been busy this weekend, but it's been kinda fun. Vacation Bible School begins a week from Monday, so Brooke is very busy getting ready for that. She wanted to do a promo for it during service today, so we've been working on her idea. We know a guy at church who has a BIG Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and since the theme for VBS this year is "Ramblin' Road Trip", Brooke put the two together. Brooke's basic idea was to have a short intro video giving all the info about VBS, then she would ride motorcycle (as a passenger!) into the sanctuary and make an announcement. So, we went out and shot some video on Saturday with our friend who has the motorcycle, and I started editing video. The video starts out the song "Born to be Wild" playing and a question pops up on the screen "Have you been on a road trip?" Then there is video of Ed on his Harley. The video goes back and forth between shots of Ed on his motorcycle and info screens about VBS. At the end, it says "Don't miss a single day....because you never know what is going to happen next." While this is on the screen, you see a shot from the back of Ed's motorcycle as he turns into the church parking lot and rides up the ramp in front of the church. The video ends, the sanctuary lights go out and then you hear Ed crank up his Harley. Ed and Brooke rode into the sanctuary, Brooke made her announcement and then they rode out. It was pretty awesome...and fun to do. We went out to eat with Ed and his wife Pat tonight and then helped Ed get his bike out of the sanctuary and take it home. We had a lot of fun.

Amanda is out of school now, so after having something to do and LOTS of people to be with seven hours a day, five days a week, she is getting bored. She comes to work with Brooke and I Monday-Thursday from around 9:30am to anywhere between 3:30-4:30pm. She's got some movies to watch, the church playground, pictures to draw and a 1st grade computer "game" and workbook to go with that. We hope to find some other VBS programs for her to attend and maybe swim lessons or a karate class. Of course there is our own VBS coming up in another week and a trip to Alabama in July.

I'm still learning how to "fix" more stuff with my new job. I worked on our washing machine and home to stop a leak and got the water flowing again in one of the "fixtures" in the Men's' Room at church. I guess I'm good enough at taking things apart...the challenge is trying to figure out what is wrong after I get the stuff apart.

I'm getting to preach on Father's Day, so I'm already praying about and preparing for that. I'm a little frustrated right now...I thought the Lord laid something on my heart to preach, but it's not developing very well. I'm not sure if the Lord just gave this to me for my benefit or if I am supposed to preach it, so I'm still praying about it. In any case, I'm excited to have the opportunity to preach.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. We are going over to Mom and Dads for burgers and just to hang out. It will be the last day off this week. Tuesday Brooke has ladies' Bible study and I have to mow the lawn. Wednesday night Brooke works children's ministry at church while I drive the bus for Jr. High youth group and have Life Group at our house. Thursday Brooke has a PTA meeting. Friday our church has our "Block Party" (we're inviting the neighborhood out for free food, blow up games for the kids, etc) and then Saturday is a work day to get ready for VBS. Fun fun fun!

So I guess it's about time to get Amanda Kay into bed. Think Brooke and I are going to watch "The Italian Job" and then I might watch some violent war movie after that to relax.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Amanda on the Slip-N-Slide

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Amanda Lost Her First Tooth

Amanda lost her first tooth today...complete with the appropriate amount of celebration and pride. We knew she would lose the tooth not because it started getting loose, but because the new tooth started growing in behind it. As a matter of fact, for a while we thought we were going to have to let the dentist pull the tooth because the new one was growing in and the old one was not getting loose. Amanda finally started pulling on it and it started getting loose. Wednesday night Mommy "helped". Today, Amanda wiggled on it all day at school and this afternoon Mommy successfully extracted the first loose tooth. Tomorrow, Amanda gets to take it to school and they will give her a special box on a necklace to put the tooth in. This, of course, is all very exciting. One down many to go?


Amanda Proudly Displaying Her First Lost Tooth

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Isaiah 55

I read this during my devotion time this morning. It is from the New Living Translation.

1"Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink--even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk--it's all free! 2Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!

3"Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David. 4He displayed my power by being my witness and a leader among the nations. 5You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious."

6Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. 7Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

10"The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. 12You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! 13Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the LORD's name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Amanda Graduated Kindergarten

"They" say time flies when you are having fun. Is that why your kids grow up so fast? Amanda Kay graduated from Kindergarten today...although she still has another week of class. Is it just me, or does that seem strange? I guess it's because they have to have award ceremonies for each grade, they only have one cafeteria/stage and doing the whole school at once would take forever.

But anyway, the important (exciting) thing is that Amanda graduated from her first year of school. She has learned a lot, and we are thankful for a good school and a great teacher this year. After pre-K at a Christian mother's day out program, Brooke and I talked and prayed about the options for Amanda's schooling. Having youth pastored for many years, I felt Christian kids needed to be in public schools...if you take all of the Christians out of public school, what is going to happen? But after having Amanda come home from "school" for three years singing Bible songs and quoting memory verses, it was hard to think about sending her to a school that, for all intents and purposes, tries to act like God does not exist. After more prayer and discussion, we sent Amanda down the street to Corey Elementary. God was very good to us gave us Mrs. Childers as Amanda's teacher. We found out Mrs. Childers was a Christian when we invited her to "Teacher Appreciation Sunday" at our church at the beginning of the school year. Mrs. Childers said she could come to the reception after church but she felt she should go to her own church service. Mrs. Childers is a grandmotherly type who has been teaching for a number of years. She is very patient and an excellent teacher. We could not have asked for a better teacher, and we have been so thankful for her this year.

So Amanda is now ready for her last week of school before her first official summer vacation. She is excited about first grade next year and looking forward to swimming this summer.

- Rob

Amanda's Kindergarten Graduation

Monday, May 09, 2005

Book I'm Reading

I really enjoy reading. I was going to say "I love reading", but I don't think I do it enough to say that. But since I've switched jobs and don't bring so much work home, I've been reading more.

Right now, I'm about 2/3 the way through "The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw. It is a number of short biographies about people who fought in or lived through WWII. I wish I could describe what I feel as I read about these incredible people. I think I agree with Tom Brokaw this time (that feels odd)...they were truly the greatest generation. When I read what they gave for this country...sometimes I tear up and frequently I find myself saying "thank you, God, for these men and women."

There's so many stories to share...there's no since in my trying to rewrite the book. But I just finished a section about black servicemen during the war and the prejudice they had to endure. Here they were, volunteering to fight, willing to give their lives for their country, and they were treated so horribly. A couple men recounted being stationed in Ft. Hood, TX where German and Italian POWs were kept. At times, the prisoners were allowed into the base PX but the black servicemen were not! When I read this part, I found myself saying "forgive us, God." It has made me want to rent the movie "Tuskegee Airmen" and find some other books to read their story.

The one thing that keeps going through my mind as I read this book...what would happen if we had a war like that today? Thank God for those serving (and dying) in the battle against terrorism. But I just can't help but think that things would be different today if our whole country had to sacrifice like everyone did back in WWII. The soldiers, the wives who had children who never saw their father, the parents sending their young men off to die, those who worked the long hours in the factories, gas rationing...the list goes on and on. I think Mr. Brokaw got it right...they were the greatest generation.

- Rob

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day, Brookie!

We sorta celebrated Mother's Day yesterday at our house. It started in the early afternoon as Brooke went to a baby shower. Amanda Kay and I got into the car and went shopping! The first place we headed was to Luna's Salon and Spa to get Brooke a gift card for a pedicure and manicure (she loves that). Next, Amanda wanted to head to the movie store to get Mommy a movie for Mother's Day...we picked "Oceans Twelve". Then, we went in search of the perfect roses for Mother's Day. One store had a beautiful arrangement of multi-colored roses (some very pretty purple ones included), but Brooke likes pink, so we headed to yet another store. When we found the pink roses, we hurried home to get the roses in a vase, wrap the movie and make a couple cards. We soon found out the rose vase at home had somehow "disappeared", but we borrowed one from the church and I still don't think Brooke knows the difference. I'm wondering if she didn't take her vase to church and it got left there, 'cause the one I borrowed looks pretty much exactly like the one that used to be here. Anyway, the roses got in a vase, the movie got wrapped and we made a card from Daddy and a card from Amanda. Since Brooke had to work children's ministry both services today, we had Mother's Day yesterday. Well, we gave her the gifts yesterday, but we loved extra on her today, too.

Brooke and I have been married 12 years this year, and she has been a mother for six years now. She's pretty special to me, and in closing today, I wanted to share what I wrote in her mother's day card. I don't know how romantic it is, but I tried to express how much she means to our family.


I don't know how you do it...all you do for your job at church and then all the stuff you volunteer to do on top of that. And then, if that is not enough, you come home and cook, wash clothes, grocery shop, help do homework, give Amanda a bath and whatever else needs to be done.

I guess because you somehow balance all of this so well I take you for granted. You're kinda like one of those beams that holds up a big bridge...people don't often think of the beam when they look at the bridge spanned over a river at sunset. It's a peaceful scene and people go about their everyday lives going back and forth across the bridge. If the beam wasn't there to hold it up, it would be an ugly heap of junk in the middle of the river. People looking at our life as a family see a beautiful bridge spanning the river at sunset. Amanda and I can go about our everyday lives because you are there...always.

I guess the picture of a bridge beam is not very romantic, but it does describe what you do in our family. You support us, make us look good to others and give us the foundation we need. You hold us up and you hold us together. Sometimes we're the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and sometimes we're the Bridge Over Troubled Water...but we'd be nowhere without you. Thank you for being the beam that hold our family together. I DO appreciate and recognize all you do for me and Amanda.

I love you,

Here I am with the love of my life

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Enjoying My New Job

I'm enjoying my new job as administrative assistant. People ask what I do, and I can actually tell them now (I was developing a job description for a while). One of the roles I'm just getting into is leading our life groups at church. Right now, I'm just touching base with our leaders once a week via e-mail to find out what is going on in their group, who attended and to pass on a few tips that hopefully help them as leaders. I also help them find curriculum for their group and will soon begin a leaders' meeting every six weeks or so.

One of the things the Lord taught me my last 2 years as youth pastor was to relax in who He made me to be. When I first joined the Arlington Youth Ministry Network a number of years ago, I was intimidated by most every youth pastor I met. It seemed most everybody was more outgoing, more of a "people person" and had more kids than I did. In 2000, we did an event called CRASH which was a city-wide evangelistic outreach. Everybody was asked to be part of a team...promotion, program, fundraising, school assemblies, etc. I noticed that these teams would need to communicate with each other and there was no system in place to allow them to do this. When I volunteered to do this, I was overwhelmed at the response...the guys were THRILLED to have someone do this. They had the outgoing personalities, the people skills and whatever else, but administration was not their thing...I had found my "nitch". The Lord used that experience and my time with the Network to teach me to relax in who He made me to be. It wasn't until my last two years of youth pastoring that I felt like an adequate youth pastor. It was not so much how I had changed over the years...I just finally figured out that God made me the way He did for a purpose, and he put me into the job I had for a purpose. As long as I was leaning on God, I could do a GOOD job.

Having said that, I'm trying not to have to relearn a lot of those lessons as I transition to working with adults. Trying to help adults lead other adults (in our life groups) has been a task that has kept me humble and seeking the Lord. Just this week I was praying about the life groups and what to share with the leaders in an upcoming leaders meeting. I was starting to feel inadequate, and the Lord reminded me HE was the one who had something to say that would help our leaders. He shared some of this "good stuff" with me through an article I had skimmed over previously (He brought me back to it) and then showed me how that applied to our groups. I'm excited to have this opportunity to stretch my faith and grow in who God created me to be.

Besides life groups, I also do "administrative stuff" and "maintenance stuff" around the church. The administrative stuff comes naturally...the maintenance stuff I am learning. Sometimes I get to combine administration with this last week. I cleaned out and organized our church attic. It took most of my day on Thursday, but it was rewarding looking at it when I was done. I've trimmed hedges, added baseboard trim inside the church and pulled some NASTY vines off a fence line.

All of this maintenance stuff has rubbed off at home, which makes Brooke happy. Ever since we moved into the house, our back screen door has not stayed closed because I needed to replace the latch. This is a simple job I could have done when I was in high school, but not liking "handy man" tasks, our door has not been fixed in the six years we have been here. I was at Lowes the other day buying stuff for the church and saw door latches. I spent the $2 to get the latch and fixed our door. Now I'm asking myself...why didn't I do this six years ago? I also fixed a door in the house that would not stay closed and...are you ready for this...finally finished painting the kitchen! We started painting in the kitchen in December, and it is finally done. Yea! Brooke thinks we are going to start on the main bathroom next...but I don't know about that.

I was thinking the other day after I ripped all that NASTY vine off the fence and again after I finished cleaning the attic...I need to take more "before and after" pictures. Nobody can really appreciate the work that went into clearing the vine off that fence line...and how do you explain to somebody what the attic looked like before you took that dumpster-and-a-half of junk out? Anyway, I'm learning new stuff and enjoying my new job. At least there's a lot of variety!

- Rob

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Off to the Races

This past Friday night, Dad and I went to the racetrack in Grand Prairie. Dad knows the guy who owns the racetrack and has been before. He mentioned that there were going to be sprint cars this past weekend and I asked him if I could go with him.

I haven't been to a sprint car race since I was in high school...maybe my freshman year of college about 17 years ago. Dad and I used to go to Knoxville, IA for the World of Outlaws national races. The racing was always good, but the thing I liked best was the fact that Dad and I did it together. When Dad mentioned sprint car races again, I wanted to go.

This was the first time sprints had been at the Grand Prairie Speedway, and there were stock and modified races as well. It's a dirt track with banked corners, and they wet the track down was a FAST track Friday night. The stock races were ok, the modifieds were very good and the sprint car races were excellent, bringing back the memories of Knoxville some 17 years ago. It was quite an experience from the mud slinging up into the stands, to the noise, to the smell of alcohol that the sprints burned for fuel. I had forgotten that smell, but for me, that is what brought back the memories of "the good 'ol days" when Dad and I watched the races.

At the Grand Prairie Speedway, the pits are outside of the track, so there is pretty much nothing in the infield. Since my Dad knew the owner of the track, we got to go onto the infield for the second half of the races. It gave you a whole new perspective to the race, and besides that, you had to feel just a little important being pointed at by the owner of the track and then being led, in front of the whole grandstand, into the infield.

And as is true for any memory-making event, there has to be a "yeah, and remember..." part of the story. When we think about this Friday night race in the future, I know what we're going to say. "Yeah, and remember how cold it was? Rob took two jackets and was just cold...Dad took one and nearly froze to death!" And then there will be, "Yeah, and remember when Rob wasn't smart enough to go to the restroom before going into the (restroomless) infield for three hours!"