My friend Marlo shared this wonderful video with me, the other day.
You just never know how one kind action can impact another human being.
When we moved to League City, south of Houston, in 2007, we planted a church. It was just a little different from most churches where we had served in the past.
But, it was a good different.
We tried to take the good from the past and chuck the ineffective/not-so-great, and planted a church, designed on the church in Acts, in the Bible.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
Not every idea worked perfectly, and our church, which is still in existence, even though we had to move, is still trying to get it right. (Aren’t most churches trying to get it right? We are a group of flawed humans, after all.)
But, through all of it, we felt (and still feel) God’s hand of favor was and is upon that little church.
One of the things we did a little different was to have weekly local neighborhood gatherings. (A couple different families would host in their own neighborhoods, getting to know their neighbors.)
There was ALWAYS food involved!
(And, you know how I love me some food!)
Long story, short, we would meet at our house, or at our neighbor’s house, bring a pot-luck meal, and while eating, we would share our lives. The highs and lows of the week. The kids were included in the conversation, as well. It was important for them to hear and be heard.
We invited other neighbors and we shared meals with them. It was not designed to be exclusive in any way, shape, or form.
But, it was bigger than just a supper club.
We served our neighbors together.
We played together. (That link is only one of the many Hunks vs Punks posts I’ve written about…do a search for Hunks vs Punks, and you can read them all!)
(Not only did we play football together, we went to football games together…)
(I actually DO know the lady at the bottom right; I just didn’t when I took that picture. She’s probably still talking to her neighbor because he’s probably still texting…)
We prayed together and even baptized together…
And, of course, we ate together.
It was a beautiful thing.
ThrillCam and I will forever be changed, for the better, because of our neighborhood Table Group.
(photo credit to Jeremy Knight)
So, guess what?
We are trying it, again, with our new neighbors!
We had a group of 4 families over, on Tuesday night (no, I didn’t take pictures…yet!).
We threw out the vision.
We’ll see what happens.
Either way, whether we meet weekly and eat together, or not, I’m excited to see where God takes us, as a neighborhood.
Because, I KNOW how lives can be impacted and changed just by reaching out and loving one another…doing life together.
It’s not how it sounds.
These twins are FAR from being sorry.
These twins are precious and wonderful and they steal my heart every time I get to visit them!
The sorry part comes from a couple million rounds of the game Sorry!
You know I love to play games.
You know I like to win.
…even if it’s against a couple eight-year-olds.
I show no mercy!!
Unfortunately, though, I got my hat handed to me in every single game I played with these two little munchkins.
I am sorry at Sorry!
But it was worth it.
Because I adore this family.
Earlier this week I wrote about some new friends in our new neighborhood that are on the way to becoming lifelong friends. …much like the above family.
Doug and Margo have been a part of our lives for over 15 years…don’t ask me to do the math.
I don’t know math.
But, I do know good friends.
Margo and ThrillCam served together on staff at a church in Austin a number of years ago. Our hearts were permanently woven together.
We walked through heart-ache when both ThrillCam and Margo left the church. We grieved alongside Margo when her father passed away. We shared in their joy when Doug and/or Margo got new jobs. We served alongside them in Honduras when they were living and serving as missionaries there. Over all the years, we’ve laughed deep belly laughs and shared many stories over our very favorite card game, Nerts–never does a visit go by without a round or two, or seventeen…
But, one of the happiest times for them AND us was the day they brought the twins home from Guatemala.
ThrillCam and I had the beautiful and delightful honor of meeting Doug and Margo at the airport as they stepped back into America carrying two very round, squishy, beautiful, perfect babies who were now a permanent part of their forever family. I’m not sure I know of any two children who were wanted and/or loved more than these two little bambinos.
Suffice it to say, our friendship has lasted over many miles and many more memories.
We don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but we make a point to visit when our family makes its annual trip to Missouri to pick up kids from camp. They live about 2 hours from the boys’ camp grounds, so there’s no way we’d miss the opportunity to hug their necks and to check how fast the twins are growing.
When I leave them, I feel uplifted and encouraged, filled and loved.
And, I feel sad, knowing it will be a whole year, most likely, before I lay eyes on this special family.
Of course, it may take me that full year to get over my multiple losses at the sorry game of Sorry!
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but every summer ThrillCam and I make the trek up to the Branson, Missouri area to retrieve our son from their favorite place on earth: camp.
Our oldest punk attended the same summer camp for many years and had to eventually choose between camp and baseball–baseball won. But, those years he attended were as equally as precious for him as they have been for our youngest son (and their cousins, who also now attend).
Summer is just not summer for our youngest son without two weeks immersed in scripture and every conceivable fun activity. You name it, they do it: basketball, baseball, dance, bikes, swimming, two-stepping, bubbles, campfires, singing, archery, tribal competitions, Bible study, the Blob, paddle boats…the list is too long to go through. Suffice it to say, the kids have a blast!
I’ve said for years that Disney has nothing on camp–Kamp is truly the happiest place on earth, at least it is for my boys.
This summer was no different.
Well, actually, it was a little different.
You see, our youngest son was given the honor of leading his tribe, the Choctaws, as their Chief. (Last summer the tribe voted him in as their 2013 leader.)
I must warn you, bragging is about to begin. So, if that bores you, please move to the next blog on your reader. I’ll give you a moment to leave. I totally understand. But, if you stay, I promise not to take too long.
Our son was given the Leadership Award, along with the honor of being Chief of the Choctaws.
For a parent who has seen that quality, or at least the potential in him, well, it caused the heart to expand few sizes. I’m always…well, mostly always…very proud of my boys. (Let me say this: I’m ALWAYS proud to be their mother.) But, over this past weekend, I stood a little taller, smiled a little bigger than usual.
I was told by counselors and the camp director that my son stepped up to the plate and apparently knocked it out of the park.
So, so proud.
(Okay, bragging done! Thanks for humoring me.)
We were so wet behind the ears, weren’t we, Babe?
Young, and so very, very unprepared.
Sometimes I still feel that way. Unprepared. Naive.
Most of the time, though, I feel Secure.
Over the years, we’ve changed quite dramatically.
Our hairlines have grayed and thinned.
Our middles have expanded and contracted…and expanded again. (Well, okay, mine has expanded again. You quit drinking Dr. Peppers and you magically lost 1,000 pounds in 2 weeks. Yes, I still love you even though I’m desperately jealous.)
Our two boys have each reached well over 6 feet–we are now looking up to speak to them. They are no longer small enough to hoist onto our hips, nor do they take 2 hour afternoon naps. They look like you. And, yet, they look like me. Personality-wise, one is more like you, one my mini-me. And, yet, really, they are not carbon copies of either of us. They are their own, individual, strong, Godly persons.
We’ve survived your various church staff positions over the years and learned from each and every experience. In looking back, even the hurtful job changes can be viewed as good–stretching, growing, hopefully maturing seasons.
We’ve buried both of my parents in less than 5 years.
We’ve moved closer to yours.
Can you believe we are no longer in our 20s, our 30s? …We are nearing the age of “older parents,” maybe even grandparent age!
Even with the job changes and moves, etc., I think the last couple of years have been the most trying. Wouldn’t you say that? In a weird, tons-of-change-kind-of-way? And throughout all the years, we have never once discussed the idea of living separately, away from one another. Never.
Has the thought occurred to either of us? I’m sure, yes, but it never gained momentum, was never given life.
I can’t imagine that life; I don’t want to.
I thank God daily that He continues to share you with me, that He shares the boys with us.
You each are a gift, a treasure.
Thank you, ThrillCam, for 23 really great years.
I look forward to 23-plus more with you.
All my love,
P.S. Here’s a crazy and amazing must-read story of some of our family history, our destiny. Not only does it tell a little more of how ThrillCam and I met in college, but how 3 generations earlier, our families were oddly connected.
This photo has gone viral since the Boston Marathon bombings, and for good reason. It’s a good advice.
ThrillCam and I have lived near quite a few disasters over the recent years and it’s amazing to watch the good that comes from very sad and seemingly helpless situations.
We’ve watched Helpers come in very different forms over the years…
We had been living in Clear Lake (Houston) Texas, right down the road from NASA, for not very long when the space shuttle Columbia exploded.
I don’t believe we were remotely prepared for what we witnessed as this large city, and yet, very small community of engineers, contractors, scientists, and friends rallied around NASA and the shuttle victims’ families. When I say it was amazing, it was amazing.
Everyone in the community was connected, in some form or fashion, to NASA, and more specifically, to an astronaut. For such a large population, the degrees of separation were minimal.
I remember mourning friends who personally worked alongside the astronauts telling me stories of how they walked side-by-side through brush and thicket searching for pieces of the shuttle for days following the explosion; they were determined to help find even the smallest sliver of metal that could help the investigators piece together the hows and whys of that tragedy. It was their way of helping.
Our oldest son was in the same class/grade with one of the astronaut’s daughters. So, we were eye-witnesses to the attention and support given to her and her family. Helpers with tangible offerings of many prayers, food, carpooling, house-cleaning…anything that could help ease the burden of sorrow the families were feeling.
“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” I Peter 4:9
During our time in the Houston area, we evacuated three times for the threat of, or the actual frontal attack of hurricanes.
While Hurricane Katrina didn’t hit our area directly, we watched as hundreds of evacuees fled Louisiana to Houston and its surrounding areas. Churches, families and businesses opened their doors to these refugees, feeding and clothing them. Our church sent teams of workers to some of the hardest hit areas in Mississippi to help in the recovery process. It was beautiful and inspiring to watch.
Photo credit to Gateway Community Church.
“Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
‘Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.” Matthew 10:8
We moved a few years later, further south, to plant a church in the town of League City. League City is in Galveston county, about 30 minutes (minus traffic) south of downtown Houston and about 30 minutes north of the Galveston Bay. Hurricane Ike hit Galveston with force, causing a devastating storm surge.
Our church took a small, but dedicated, loving group of helpers down to help with the cleanup efforts following Ike. (You can read my post about it here.)
Just a few days ago, the Boston Marathon was bombed. Unbelievable and, again, devastating.
But, I am amazed by the first responders (that include just regular folk who stayed to help), who swooped in, immediately, to help the victims. This morning’s national news did a piece on the EMS workers who were stationed in and around the race. Because of their presence, they were able to move 90 people to area hospitals in less than an hour.
And, now, today, I sit here reeling at the close proximity of our new home to West, Texas, the small town devastated by the fertilizer plant explosion. I grew up going there on a very regular basis to buy kolaches and go country and western dancing! My heart is heavy and sad for the precious people of West, as they continue to search for loved ones and tend to injured ones…
But, I am also, once again, reminded of the good in people. Immediately, churches and businesses opened their doors for the refugees and hurting people of West. Donations of blood and gift cards and clothing and baby diapers, etc. are flowing in.
I’m, once again, watching the loving hands of Jesus being lifted through service and care.
This is just unfolding and I am looking forward to hearing the hero stories…
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.” Ps. 121-1-2
Rather than trying to explain my past 2 months and the crazy-busy season it is and was, I will just jump right in an show you one of the funny happenings during that time. Hopefully, I can get back on top of my blog and write a little more consistently, again…. (fingers crossed)
A few weeks ago, we were “flocked.” Continue reading