Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13th is a good day

July 13th is a good day around our house.

Actually, it's a GREAT day.

It's a miracle reminder kind of day.

We were in the middle of the longest wait in human history.  Olympics.  The flu.  All sorts of craziness was keeping us away.  Pins and needles.  Frustration and tears.  General anxiety.  We called and were told that if our papers arrived by July 3rd, we'd be good to go.

And it arrived.  On July 3rd.  Just like we prayed.  Bam.  God moved.

Except the office was closed that Friday because the 4th was Saturday.  It's admittedly hard to worship on Sunday when you think your life is on hold waiting for paperwork and permission.  Especially when God came through but the office was closed.

So the Queen called on Monday at 8am.  One thing you do not want to do:  get on the other side of the Queen when she knows she's right.  Believe me.  I've known her for 23 years.  I've been married to her for 19.  Don't do that.

She said to the nice lady:  "Hey, so we're good to go, right?"

Nice Lady:  "No.  Sorry.  Our office was closed and we can't get the arrangements made."

The Queen:  "Uhm.  That wasn't the deal.  You said if it's there by the 3rd, we're good.  It was there.  God moved.  We're going, right?  You're going to hold up your end of the bargain, right?"

Nice Lady:  "Well, all I can do is try to see if they'll make these arrangements.  We've never done it on such short notice."

The Queen:  "Great.  I look forward to your phone call in the morning."

Tuesday at 9am, the phone rings.  We are headed to China to get our baby girl.

In less than 48 hours, we packed, bought plane tickets, and were out the door.  In four short days, we had her in our arms.

Happy Gotcha Day, Peanut.  You are a gift to us from God.  And a reminder of His miracle-working power.  Mommy and Daddy love you very much.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What I'm Learning about Patience

Here's the setting:

Son comes down to eat his 87th snack of the day at 10:00pm.  I'm wrapping up, locking up, and turning off lights.  He sits down at the kitchen table.  I do too.  

He eats like a sloth on barbiturates.

Every cracker gets divided into 64ths.  Chewing is like glacial activity.  The peanut butter between the crackers gets licked off...every microgram of it.


Me-to-him:  Hey bud.  Tell me about camp.  What was the coolest thing you learned or had reinforced? (while still steaming on the inside)

Him-to-me:  Some thoughtful responses, some late night blather.  

Me-to-him:  What's one thing you need to do to reinforce all that?

Him-to-me:  I need to _____________.  (a solid action step)  Hey dad, you want one of these crackers?

Me-to-him:  Nope.

He finished just short of 22 hours later (it seemed), washed his hands, brushed his teeth (again).  Then, at the top of the stairs as he was headed to his room and I was headed to mine...

"Hey dad.  Thanks for sitting with me.  It was really great to talk to you.  Goodnight!" *big hug*

Me-to-myself:  Thank you God that I didn't say out loud all the impatient things I was thinking...

Here's what I'm learning about patience:

I'm only patient when things don't go as I planned in either direction or timing.  That's the only time I get to exercise patience.  When it goes my way, no patience is needed.

Be smart enough not to say everything that I'm thinking.  And be gracious enough not to hold other people to what they said but may not have meant in the heat of the moment.  Parents.  Kids.  Spouses.  Bosses.  Employees.  They all apply.

I can't think of an example in my life or those I know where someone says, "Gee, I wish I would've been less patient there."  The payoff for patience can look like a life-giving hug at the top of the stairs or something meaningful to you.  But it almost always pays off.  To be clear, I'm not talking about passivity here - sitting and doing nothing and expecting God to sort it all out.  I'm talking about patience - the kind of intentional and active waiting (or sitting at the table conversing over peanut butter crackers) that the Bible describes.

Here's hoping that helps someone today.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

3 Years

I have kept myself busy today with helpful chores around the house, but The Shadow has always lingered back behind me somewhere.  It's 9:00pm and I figured it's time to look it in the face.

Today is three years since The Phone Call came.  "Hey Trent.  It's [Queen's Best Friend].  You need to get the kids settled and get back to the hospital as soon as you can.  Maggie has had a stroke."  I can take you to the place on the Gulf Freeway where I answered.  It's not etched into my memory.  It's more like seared.

Let me tell you (and The Shadow) what I've seen in the last three years...

God's faithfulness in saving the life of my little girl and bringing her back to health.  He'd still be faithful if it had gone a different way, but I'm glad He chose to display Himself in this manner for her.

God's strength in our lives and life.  Thank you, God, for seeing us all through.

Resilience in my kids.  They bounce back like rubber balls.  I don't doubt that they've been marked by these three years.  I think they consistently show how resilient they are.  And not because we're perfect parents, but I think love, attention, and some intentional investment keep them bouncy (in a lot of areas of life).

The church is the greatest institution in the world.  I serve as a pastor, so I know it's not perfect.  But it's great.  And I have a legion of stories - chapters that were written by the love and selflessness of others - that prove it.

Faithfulness.  Strength.  Resilience.  Church.

I hope that encourages someone who has their own Shadow that's in pursuit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Zombie Response Vehicle and a Warfare that is much more REAL

Dropping the Bear off at school the other day, I took a different way home because I was grabbing gas for the Queen's minivan extraordinaire.  Yes, I am that good of a husband, I know...

On the way home, I ran across an old ambulance made up in Halloween garb that declared itself a Zombie Response Vehicle.  Not exactly this, but something like it:

I laughed a little, judged the people who owned it for being strange, and kept driving - wondering how in the world a TV show like The Walking Dead could affect people's vehicle choices.  And then the thought crept in.  "What if Zombies are real and we just don't know it?" (** Please note:  I don't believe in zombies.  I just hadn't had enough coffee to be sane **)

But here's what hit me (after another cup of black liquid sanity):  we do have an Enemy who is real and is yet unseen.  His effects are genuine.  His power legitimate.

I look around my world right now - much less THE world right now - and see the craziness that exists and seems to be contagious.  I don't know the ins and outs of the recipe, but I do know that spiritual warfare plays into it in more ways that (a) we can see and (b) we acknowledge.  There is not a demon under every rock, but there are demons who wreak havoc and create all sorts of trouble for people.  There are Tempters who invite us to do everything but the right thing.  There is a real spiritual bondage that comes when people reverse the polarity of their moral compass.

It's real, dear reader.  Be aware and be on the alert.  A roaring, proud lion seeks people (and marriages and teenagers and reputations and ministries) to devour. (cf. 1 Peter 5.8)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Back to Blogging: Transformation

Well, it's more than a little odd to be sitting here typing since it's been about a billion years (in blog years, of course) since a new post has gone up.  The truth is, after quite a run with hospitals, etc., I just didn't have much to say.  I was committed to saying exactly that.

A long time ago I heard a guy say that if I concerned myself with having something to say, God would provide the opportunities to say it.  I have lived by that credo ever since.

So I'm back because I think I have found my blog-voice, so to speak.  And the word of the day is transformation.

Chipper Gaines loves #DemoDay.  He loves it so much he even prints shirts about them that you can buy at Magnolia Market.

If you're not a Fixer Upper fan, sorry.  Because of our Waco connection and one of their first houses being two doors down from us when we lived there, we're fans.

The thing about #DemoDay that no one glorifies is the pain involved.  There is so much to be destroyed, taken down, beaten out, rolled up, carted off, hauled out, and trashed.  Sinks.  Floors.  Sheetrock.  Wood.  Cabinets.  Appliances.  Some come out pretty easy and some take more than a little bit of elbow grease.  There is blood.  There is sweat in buckets.  And there is loss.  That's what #DemoDay is.  Removal of the old to make room for the new.

You see what I did there, don't you?

The most painful part of transformation is the #DemoDay part.  There are times when, in order to build something into us, God has to take something out of us.  There is blood (His...since we don't have to resist to the point of shedding ours according to Hebrews 12).  There is sweat - most often ours as we worry about and work toward the cleansing.  And there is loss.

If you're in the position where it's mostly Sledge Hammers instead of finish work, I want to encourage you that God has "far, far greater things ahead than anything we leave behind" (C.S. Lewis).