Thursday, February 28, 2008

WANAGT2 ... R.I.P.

"Emma the Mustang" is no more. Yes the car still exists and she's still a beauty. But her beloved license plates, WANAGT2, have been terminated by the state of Ohio. She is now EIM1267. How ... boring. But I think I have figured it out. She snuck one in on them.

EIM = "Emma Is Miserable." She is sitting outside in the parking lot at this hour covered in snow. We knocked about 7 inches off of her today but there are remnants clinging to her. And she's expecting 4 more inches tomorrow. And so ... she is miserable. As for the numbers 1267?
1 - There is only one way she is going to be happy and that is for ...
2- The amount of months left until spring hits this snow bit region. Then she'll be happy.
67- I've always lied to Emma, telling her she's a 1967 Mustang. She doesn't know she is a 2002. And we aren't telling her. It makes her feel ... special. And she is.

I love me some Emma.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stars in the universe

It was the summer of 2001 and Debbie and I were at a pastor’s and wives retreat in the mountains of Colorado. We were so far out in the back country that I don’t think the FBI could have found us. The lodge we were sharing with the three other couples was log cabin style. There was a wonderful host couple that cooked the meals and gave us directions around the area during our free time. And best of all, out on the back deck, overlooking the Crystal River, was a huge Jacuzzi hot tub. Now this is a prescription for rest, relaxation, and encouragement!

I remember one night everybody had gone to bed. The lodge was quiet but I couldn’t sleep. So I slipped into swimming trunks and a t-shirt, snuck out the back door, turned on the hot tub and slid in to liquid heaven. As I sat there I couldn’t help but look up. The only words that I could manage to form in my stunned brains was … “God, YOU ARE INCREDIBLE!” Tens of thousands of stars highlighted the sky from every angle. All day long I had looked at the mountains in all of their splendor. But I have to tell you, those mountains had nothing on those stars. I sat in awe for a very long time just pouring out a heart of gratitude before God.

As I read Philippians tonight that night came to mind. Philippians 2: 15 – 16 says, “… so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life …”

Me? Shine like a star in the universe? You gotta be kidding me. But no, that is what it says. If I live my life to honor the God of heaven and earth, if I live my life without complaining and arguing, I will shine like a star in the universe.

It’s pretty ugly outside tonight. A lot of snow is on the ground. The wind howls through the trees. Lake Erie is a massive sheet of ice. It’s cold. Really cold. And when I look up I see … nothing. Because all that is up there are clouds. You know, it’s easy to be a cloud. Most people live their lives raining on everybody and everything they come in contact with. They drench God’s world with profanities and problems. But you and I do not have to be that way. We can live to honor God. And when we do …

… stars in the universe. That’s God’s kids. That’s us.

Shine, my friend, shine

Monday, February 25, 2008

Three of the best people on the planet

Debbie and I are leading a bible study on Monday nights at our apartment building. After three weeks ZERO apartment dwellers have shown up. However we have had a fairly decent turn-out of church members. Our topic is "Raising Kids God's Way." It's amazing to listen to these parents of young kids talk about the stresses and trials of raising them. I have constant flash backs. I remember those tough decisions and difficult days of trying to turn Kelli, Scott, and Christopher into "independently dependent followers of Jesus." There were times I wondered if they (we) would make it. But not really. I mean, not in a major way. Over all they were a delight to raise. Never did I consider burying everything but their heads in the backyard and then spreading honey in their hair so that the ants would attack. (So don't ask me why I even thought of that. Really. It never entered my mind.)

I just talked to Christopher for about 45 minutes. He was driving home from work and decided to spend the time talking to his mom and dad. Can I just stop here for a minute and say ... wow. He could have had the stereo blasting in his Mustang. He could have called his lovely fiancee. He could have enjoyed the silence after a long day at work. But no. He chose to call his parents and check in. Do you know how that makes a parent feel? It makes us feel great. Like we really did some things right during those wonderful years of watching them grow into full fledged adults. Truth is, I talk to all of my kids at least every other day. Okay, sometimes I miss that goal. But not often. Talking to them is one of my favorite hobbies.

It's tough living away from these wonderful people. I knew when God relocated us to the Cleveland suburbs that this would be the hard part. And it is. But there is so much joy in knowing that there are 3 young adults out there that God blessed us with. I have no fears about how they will spend their tomorrows. All 3 of them fell in love with wonderful mates (or in Christopher's case, "almost mate.") This is what satisfaction feels like. It is a good feeling. It is one to sit back and enjoy. There was a day I worried about them if Debbie and I just went out to a movie, leaving them at home. But now? Now I know that they are world changers. They change the world for the better. And it isn't really something that should be charged to our credit. It is further evidence of the goodness of God.

Next week Christopher, Scott and I will be taking one last "single guy trip." Christopher will be getting married in October. Before Scott's wedding he and I went to a Yankee's game and an Orioles game. It was awesome. Christopher couldn't go because he was working "Centrifuge." He was busy telling teens about Jesus. But this trip will find all 3 of us skiing the Rockies. And I can't wait. When I took them skiing the first few times I could literally ski circles around them. No longer. They will make me look really sick. And you know what? I'll love every minute of it.

Kelli, Scott, Christopher (in that order in the pictures above) ... I love you. Thanks for making this dad a very proud and satisfied man.