Saturday, October 31, 2009

Authentic Young Adults...?

Almost every Monday night we host between 15 - 25 Young Adults at our home in Madison, AL. We usually hang out for a while, eat a bit, have a bible study, and hang out some more. Tami & I love doing life with younger folks. I have to admit though that there have been times when I couldn't stay awake any longer and had to give up & go to bed. I left them in capable hands though. Tami can hang with the best of them... We have always hoped that we could plug into a ministry at church that would give us the chance to pour into people's lives and build authentic relationships.
So far this past year, we've gone through lots of pizza, bottled water, and a variety of desserts. We've also studied James, 1 John, Jonah, Heaven, Revelation, Angels, The Resurrection, etc. We, along with another couple, probably do less teaching and more facilitating. They love to discuss the text and what it means to them on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes we also have parties: Super Bowl, Black & White, Tacky
Christmas Sweater, White Elephant, and Costume parties... Ahh costume parties.. now this is where the authenticity really shines! Last night, at our 2nd annual Young Adults Costume Party, we had a plethora of characters... Rubix Cube, Acorn, Double Dare contestant, Blue's Clues, Caesar & Cleopatra, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Tattooed bikers, a No-Good Veterinarian, Quail Man, Harlem Globetrotter & Cheerleader, Lorraine & husband from Mad TV, GI Joe, Trucker, Disco Man, Anti-Brett Farve fan club, "recession" costume man... just to name a few. Was this the real character of some of these folks really coming to the surface???
Boy, I hope not!!
Tami and I were the bikers... trust me, this was not our true character coming to the surface... but I can only speak for myself... Our costumes were pretty cool - except for the clip-on ear ring that I had to wear. About half way through the party, someone felt the need to tell me I was wearing the ear ring on the wrong side..... what?! There's a right and wrong side?? My right ear was already numb from the clip-on. No way I was going to do the same to the left....
Nevertheless, we had another great time with some great

On Tami's Facebook, where you can see more pictures, we saw some friends who dressed up as "blind referees". Hmmm? Now that's an idea in SEC Land....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What Do YOU Take for Granted?

Job? Family? Health? Faith? Maybe your relationships? Maybe money? Basics like clean air, water, heating and air conditioning? Garbage pickup? Plumbing? Freedom? Working traffic lights? Pilots and airplanes? Electricity? Your future? We could go on and on.... There are a myriad of things that we take for granted!

I started thinking about this on Wednesday evening of this week.... specifically after I returned home from work and changed into my favorite jeans - or at least tried to... As I bent over to put my left leg into the corresponding pant leg, my lower back "tweaked", "went out", "stopped functioning", hurt badly"!! What in the world is this!? Why did this happen?

Trust me, I take for granted the act of "putting on jeans". Even more so, I take for granted the "functioning of my back". It's been over three days now, and my back is still only about 70% where it should be. Of course I can still walk around, albeit more like a "Tim Conway shuffle", but it's not pretty. I look like I'm about 25 years older than I really am. (No jokes here...)

I always forget how crucial my back is in regards to many other functions. For example: sitting down & getting up, rolling over in bed, sneezing, blowing your nose, bending over to do anything, even standing... I have definitely taken my back for granted... no doubt about it. The constant, nagging pain has reminded me that I do, indeed, take many things for granted. It will return to normal in a few more days, but what am I supposed to learn from this?

Maybe it's God's way of reminding me that I need to appreciate more.... maybe think about the small, yet very significant things in my life that I often overlook. Maybe there are some deep hidden lessons that I need to learn from this temporary inconvenience. I know that many people around the world are far more inconvenienced than we Americans are, but I also know that we take many aspects of our lives for granted. Maybe we should all hit the pause button, sit down for a while, and make a long list of everything we take for granted..... I'm certainly going to do it - but I think I'll "stand"....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

There's Something About the 70's!

What is it about the 70's!? The style was cool... the music was cool... the dancing was cool... it was just cool in the 70's! Last night a few of our Summit Crossing Community Church small groups got together for a costume party.

The theme was.... you guessed it - The 70's! We had a great time!
We had hippies, druggies, bikers, flower children, disco dancers, movie characters, afros, platform shoes,
tattoos, tight jeans, head bands, colored shades, lots of hair, a 70's iPod playlist,
karaoke, and lots of polyester!
I'll let the pics speak for themselves..... See ya
next year!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Counting Down the Days...

In only 64 days we'll get to hold this little kangaroo! Not that I'm counting, of course... We've seen Savvy, Daniel & Lauren quite often via Skype, but it will be quite a joy to actually hold the little "roo" again. After all, the last time I held Savannah, she was only 2 days old - born on July 23. We are really looking forward to seeing all three of them!

I've been a grandfather for about 12 weeks now... physically absent from the grandchild, but certainly with her in spirit and love. Can't truly say that I've missed the diaper changing assignments though... The three of them will make the long haul from Sydney to California, where they will stay a few weeks and visit with family & friends. Then they'll fly from the west coast to Sweet Home Alabama. After visiting with us, I suspect they will want to travel to KY and surrounding spots to visit friends and introduce Savvy to the mid-west. It will be her first trip to America... We certainly hope it won't be her last!

So... I've been thinking about that moment when we pick them up at the Huntsville airport... Who do you hug first? Should I make a bee-line to Savvy? Would it be more appropriate to first hug and welcome our daughter, Lauren? Or, would it be more courteous to bear hug our son-in-law, Daniel? Does it matter? Or does it imply a sort of priority or a "pecking order" of sorts? How will Lauren or Daniel feel if we rush to Savvy and leave them in the shadows....? Will Lauren or Daniel feel slighted if we go to the other first? Maybe Tami & I should "tag team" the moment: I go to Daniel and Tami hugs Lauren simultaneously, or vice-versa. Most likely Savvy won't even notice... I'll let you know how it goes....

Now, it's safe to say that Tami has been preparing for this visit for some time. She has already obtained every needed baby device you can think of. Being the first grandchild certainly looks like it has its advantages. Car seats, strollers, cribs, clothing, etc. - it's all here! No matter that it's only a short visit.... we have all the paraphernalia.
I'm sure we'll take & post plenty of pictures of the family from down under... we might even get a shot of me changing a "nappie". Counting down the days....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forgiving & Forgetting

Is it easy to forgive? It is easy to forget? Does everyone deserve to be forgiven? These are questions that come to mind when I think about evil things that are done to innocent people. On October 3rd I wrote about my co-worker, George Woodard. This was a clear example of an evil act crossing a good man's path.

It's not my job to catch the criminal. It's not my job to get even. It's not my job to ensure justice is secured. It's not my job to apply punishment. It's not even my job to understand why this happened to begin with...

It is my job to forgive... In some cases, this may actually be harder to do that all of the above. Let's face it.... it's NOT easy to forgive. Some may disagree with me, but from my viewpoint, it is very difficult. Maybe it's a shortcoming in me.... maybe a sign of immaturity.... maybe a result of my logical brain overpowering my emotional and creative side. Nevertheless, it's tough!

I know the Bible is chocked full of advice and wisdom regarding our need to forgive. It's not a suggestion - it's a command. But, it's still hard to do. I suppose it makes it a bit more difficult when the victim is someone you actually know - especially someone as loved as George. But, should that really make a difference? I mean, would it be easier for me to forgive someone who murders, let's say, a child molester? Maybe... But, I know the right thing is for me to forgive... period!

How about "forgetting"? Can we forgive AND forget? As tough as forgiving is, forgetting is even tougher. Tougher indeed! I believe it may be possible to forget how someone has hurt you, but it may require a supernatural tweaking from above... it's very difficult to do on your own. There are repercussions from evil acts that sometimes leaves a lasting scar... or in George's case, a lasting void.

So... does everyone deserve to be forgiven? I know that I have done many things in my life that didn't merit forgiveness. Nothing like murder, of course. But, when I speak rudely of people, promote my ways over others, or think that I am better than you, I probably don't "deserve" forgiveness. But, I often get it... Maybe none of us "deserve" to be forgiven, but often it is amply provided... and, for that, I am thankful.

The person that murdered George may not deserve forgiveness, and the evil deed may never be forgotten, but I hope we can all forgive. It's what George would have done....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thank You, George!

As I journey through life, I obviously meet and get to know many, many people. I have always tried to discern what attributes I would like to copy from those I meet. It's a bit like taking a piece of this person and attaching it to me.... or some other trait of that person and attaching it to me. Of course there are often observations I make, regarding certain traits, in which I wish to avoid emulating. But, I believe there is something of worth and value to observe from almost everyone - some more than others. George Woodard Jr. was one such man...

George was brutally shot and murdered on Wednesday morning, September 30, at 5:30 as he was about to enter his vehicle in his own driveway. He was departing for work. He had kissed his wife and they both said "I love you" just before he headed for his truck. We were co-workers.

I received the call about two hours later that morning while I was on a business trip in Northern Kentucky. My heart sank... my stomach flipped... my mind questioned... At least three times later that day, I would cry. I took the next available flight back to Huntsville. Who would do this to George? The local authorities have questioned several people. I hope they find the person who did this.

George was an integral part of our management team. His influence and impact were company-wide. Someone called him a "gentle giant" - getting things done by using positive reinforcement, not yelling or screaming. You could never pass by him without him greeting you and reaching out his hand. He always smiled and was infectiously full of encouragement. To get him to say something negative about anyone was almost an impossible task. He had a smile and demeanor that immediately put you at ease - even when there was a problem or issue at work. He never panicked, nor lost focus. He seemed to always be in-control and fully engaged.

He would often look for someone that was eating lunch alone in the cafeteria. He would ask if he could join, and then befriend yet another person for at least 45 minutes. I would always hear stories of how George would help other people after work or on weekends, even if it changed his plans or was inconvenient for him or his family. He seemed to have a love for people that trumped everything else.

George was impactful not only at work, but also in the community. His death has been prominent news since September 30. All of the local media have interviewed family, friends, and co-workers to get to know the man that so many had come to love. I was told that the TV stations are so surprised at the number of comments that have been posted on their web sites regarding George.

I visited his family at his home 2 days after the tragedy. He has such a wonderfully strong family... a large, close-knit family to say the least. They were telling me funny stories of life episodes about George that only family members know. I could see traits and characteristics of George in his Mother and his brother, Chester. He, no doubt, was loved greatly by his family as well.

George was a deacon at his church in Huntsville. The night before his death he attended choir practice and offered up the closing prayer. The was a man of strong Christian faith and a devoted child of God. I look forward to seeing and speaking with him again someday in heaven...

George will be missed and never replaced. There are many wonderful pieces of George that I have attached to myself. His examples have made me a better person. I only wish there were more people in the world like George Woodard, Jr. I'll miss you my friend....