We have friends who recently moved from Spartanburg, South Carolina all the way to Seattle, Washington simply because it was something that they wanted to do. Yes, they prayed about it – they were even considering a couple of other places, one being “back home” to the Tampa Bay area – but in the end, Seattle seemed like the right place to go. Now that they’ve been there for several months, they are planning on moving to Los Angeles for at least a year to get involved with a large inner-city ministry there called The Dream Center and then see what God has for them next. We have other friends who we’ve been praying with, who have decided to leave a city they’ve been pastoring in for several years, and move “back home” to help strengthen the church they were raised up in. When I was talking with them the other day to see what their decision was, they had told me that they hadn’t heard what we would call a “God said”, but that it seemed like the right thing to do. But is it? Continue reading →
It all started a few months back with a conversation with a friend at church. He’d said that he’d never seen the “Lord of the Rings” movies, didn’t plan on seeing them, and really had no desire to see them. But I just knew that he’d appreciate the story if he would just take the time to watch even the first of the three movies. Now, this friend is newly married, and I know that his wife appreciates a good story – and she likes LOTR. So I convinced her to ask him as one of her Christmas presents, for them to come to our house and have dinner and watch the first of the movies (“Fellowship of the Ring”) with us. He relented. What else could he do, right?
Well, it’s taken a few months and having to re-do our plans at least once, but last night they arrived at 5:30pm with pizza in hand. My job was to pick up some orders of chips and queso from Chili’s on the way home – oh, and a large half-Coke-half-diet Coke for my wife. As I was leaving work around 4:50pm I called and asked if she could have our youngest son look for the movie in our collection so that if it wasn’t there I could pick it up somewhere on the way. Response back was that he was sure that it was on NetFlix so we had no worries.
Made it to Chili’s, picked up the order, and headed home – would be there by 5:20pm (early, which is amazing). I was literally five blocks from our street when I get a text from another of our sons: “Dad, I’m at so-and-so’s, can you pick me up so I won’t miss dinner?” I had just passed that friends house on my way from work to Chili’s – why couldn’t that text have come 15 minutes ago? Back into the heart of rush-hour traffic to get him, and then finally get back home 15 minutes late for our friends arrival. Thankfully my wife was already home. Continue reading →
I have this crazy dream. It’s not the normal thing that a guy who has lived most of his life in Florida would probably want to do, but I want to do it anyway. I want to go on a cattle drive. You know – riding like a cowboy on a horse, yelping and making noises as I try to get cattle moving in the right direction. Boots, the hat, the whole thing. Now, I did the “City Slickers” thing and told myself I would have it done before my 40th birthday – well I’m 41 now and I haven’t done it yet. Funny thing how money is always involved. But it’s still inside of me rumbling around wanting to be done – and I just KNOW that someday I am going to do it. I guess this probably leaves you wondering why any sane person would want to do something so unusual, right? That’s an easy-enough answer… It’s God’s fault.
If you’ve been reading these posts, by now you know I love history… and maybe you’ve also picked up a bit on that part of me that yearns for the big, sweeping, and epic moments of life. I love movies like “Dances With Wolves”, “Glory” and “The Patriot” – anything full of big, wide, panoramic shots of the openness of America, all packed in with historical moments and zipped up in an overwhelming sound score. Something in me craves to know that there is more out there than the laid out streets of our neighborhoods. When I was a child, I had a subscription to Arizona Highways magazine – just so I could look at the pictures of the Grand Canyon and life “out West”. I would also play for hours alone in the woods near where we lived with an old WWII-era training rifle, letting the hills and streams of Delmar, NY and Walpole, MA become the battlefields of Bunker Hill and Normandy. Fallen logs would turn into the walls and ramparts at the Alamo or the fences surrounding Gettysburg. I don’t think that there was a major battle in our nation’s history that I didn’t fight in. I covered a lot of ground for a kid in the 4th grade. Continue reading →
I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s this year pretty much in bed. I woke up two days after Christmas with a bad bug and spent the next few days either in bed sleeping or in the bathroom being sick. The first time I can ever remember being sick like that was when I was in the third or fourth grade and we lived in New York. I just remember being so sick that I could barely get out of bed, and had to eventually end up sleeping on the thin box-spring or platform that are made for bunk beds. Three decades later and I can still remember how uncomfortable it was, and the delirium and strange dreams that always accompany these kinds of sicknesses. It seems like those dreams are the strangest when you lay their watching television, so this time at least I made sure it didn’t come on until the intensity of the bug had passed. Either way, it seemed like an almost prophetic way to end 2011.
“I am sick, discontented, and out of humor. Poor food, hard lodging, cold weather, fatigue, nasty clothes, nasty cookery, vomit half my time, smoked out my senses – the Devil’s in it; I can’t Endure it. Why are we sent here to starve and freeze? What sweet felicities have I left at home: a charming wife, pretty children, good beds, good food, good cookery – all agreeable, all harmonious. Here all confusion, smoke and cold, hunger and filthiness…” – Surgeon Albigence Waldo, Valley Forge, December 14, 1777 Continue reading →
For as long as I can remember I have liked to watch war movies. Maybe it is because my dad served in the Air Force during WWII (he was a belly-gunner on a bomber in the Philippines) or that my oldest brother did two tours of duty as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Now, neither of them ever really talked about their experiences, but for whatever reason I’ve always been drawn to these types of movies – especially the old ones. The first battle-type of movie I remember seeing was when I was a child and my dad took another brother and I to the historic Proctor Theater in Schenectady, New York. We drove the 25 miles or so from our home in Delmar one Saturday morning to see the 1939 classic film “Gunga Din”, starring Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (based on the poem by Rudyard Kipling). Maybe it was something about being in that big, old theater, or eating popcorn out of the square box instead of the typical tub… or maybe it was just the memory of sitting next to my dad as the story played out on the screen. Whatever it was, from that moment on I was hooked. Continue reading →
It was 1977 and I was 7 1/2 years old that Christmas. I remember laying in bed on Christmas Eve in the top bunk as my older brother slept quietly in his bunk below. Our family had come home from the Christmas Eve service at our church a few hours before, and we had already made it through a family tradition of opening just one simple gift before going to bed. After seven kids my parents had learned that giving us that one gift was like slowly turning a pressure valve that probably gave them at least a little more sleep on Christmas morning. As I lay there it was like something out of Clement Clarke Moore’s story “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, you know with children nestled in bed and visions of sugar plumbs dancing in their heads – but for me it was toys. I was thinking about all of the stuff I had wanted and wondering what would be waiting for me under that tree. That’s when the most amazing thing happened. Continue reading →
That same year (2008) that God used someone to bless us with all of those gifts that were left on our doorstep, we had another encounter that I know was from Him. To be honest I don’t remember if it was before or after the gifts arrived, but it was another surprise on those same steps – this time in the form of a young man needing help. It was about 5 o’clock or so in the evening, and we were rushing around the house getting ready to leave as we had to be at the church at 5:3o to practice for the Christmas program and we didn’t really have any time to spare. That is when the knock came at our door.
Now, you’ve got to understand that house we lived in… it’s pretty far out of town, and it was way back off the road. Nobody would just randomly select our house to stop at, which is what made the knock on our door that night so strange. Continue reading →
I have always been drawn to the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the story of George Bailey. I think like with most anyone, there are certain things that take place around Christmas time that stir my heart and cause pangs of nostalgia. The songs, the classic TV specials, the change in seasons – well, maybe if I lived anywhere else besides Florida, that is. The moment that Santa shows up at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’s like a switch is flipped inside of me and I am ready for the Christmas season.
The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” does that for me, too… Continue reading →