Monthly Archives: September 2010

Finding Room

It was nearly midnight on October 1. Dorothy and I felt a bit like Mary and Joseph after being turned away by all the old Route 66 motels on Tulsa’s 11th Street. Our baby was six weeks old. We had spent the whole day helping movers load the moving van and then we unexpectedly learned that they were going to drive overnight to Tulsa to unload the van at our little duplex first thing in the morning. That’s when the scrambling began. We filled our trusty ’64 Rambler with the baby and the rest of our worldly goods and left Ft. Worth behind. But now it was midnight. Something called the Tulsa State Fair (not Tulsa County Fair, I learned) was in full swing, so every room was taken. We eventually found a spot on the seventh floor of the downtown Holiday Inn. What a short night.

Very early the next morning we had to load everything back into the car and get across town to the new place. The moving van was already waiting. We spent the morning unloading and setting up the place. Eventually Dorothy said that we needed to go shopping right then. Why? We had this little baby and our place had no washer, dryer or refrigerator, and there was something about dirty cloth diapers that need tending to. So on our first full day in Tulsa – it was a Tuesday – we bought the appliances and had them delivered the next day. Wednesday night I was welcomed by Dr. Bob Willets and the church people to the evening prayer service. I delivered my first sermon as a minister of our church on the first Sunday morning of October 1973. The Scripture was from 1 Corinthians chapter 1. That day I began a verse-by-verse study of that book which lasted into the following February.

So I have been in a reflective mood this week about these 37 years together. Thank you for inviting me and allowing me into some of the most sacred moments of your family’s life. For some families, I have ministered across five generations. Thank you for welcoming us in and giving us room to mature as a pastor and as a family. Thank you for ministering to us and helping us raise and teach our children and their children the very things of God. You are loved.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Find room for others. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Decisions are Choices

How do you decide? Every decision I make is a choice. Every choice I make is a decision. We decide so often, and we make choices so frequently that many times we may not even realize the impact of what we are doing. It is one thing to decide what to wear today. It is quite another to contemplate a new relationship, career path or major purchase. I ask myself these questions when facing major decisions:

1. Is this in keeping with Scripture? Is it right, true, honest and Christ-honoring? If it does not line up with what I already know about God’s will, I am guaranteed a disaster.

2. Is this the right time to do this? Timing can make all of the difference in a successful decision. If I have to have or do something “right now,” I may be responding to unhealthy pressures or influences.

3. What will be different after I make this decision? This forces me to look at the consequences. How will things look in two weeks, six months or five years from now?

4. What is the true cost? This question is not just about money. What sacrifices will be made? Who will be affected? What, or who, will be changed?

5. Are there alternative options that I should be pursing? Sometimes the first choice presented is taken to be the only choice. It is never the only choice.

Also, I follow these three principles for my decision-making:

1. Pray for direction and expect to discover the answer.

2. If there is an uncomfortable doubt, don’t. Until there is a peace of mind and a settled heart, it is best to wait, or move on to another issue.

3. Because I have a right to do something, does not mean it is the right thing to do. This goes for any of the factors involved. Just because I have the money…or time…desire, does not mean it is always the right thing to do.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. You decide. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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I believe in miracles. I saw one Sunday. Her name is Kimmie Utley. Kimmie is now 17 years old and a high school senior. Some may remember that late on Friday night, September 11, 2009, Kimmie was severely injured when her car missed a bridge and rolled over down the embankment. She was wearing her seat belt but broke her back, resulting in a spinal cord injury. She was paralyzed from the knees downward. Kimmie was a star high school soccer player, and college recruiters had been talking to her.

With much prayer, therapy and determination, Kimmie learned to stand, then eventually to take some small steps. Her goal: play soccer again. By winter she was jogging, trying to get in condition. By spring she was given reluctant permission to start practicing soccer again. Before school started, she tried out and won back her place on her competitive team. On Saturday, September 11, 2010 (exactly one year after the accident), Kimmie scored her first goal for her soccer team, which won the game 2-0. If you ever want to see a beautiful miracle, look over at Kimmie Utley.

Miracles are all around us. Do we see them? Do we remember them? Do we acknowledge them? I have to be careful not to let the new troubles I face distract me from realizing that each day presents an opportunity to see another of God’s miracles. Look around. How many miracles can you see in the lives of the people around you? Or, to paraphrase the old song, “Count your many miracles. Name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Count your miracles. And let’s experience the love and power of God together

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Grand Parenting

I understand the “grand” part of grandparenting. There is nothing quite like holding the child of your child in your arms. As I write this we have four grandchildren: one 6, two 3 and one who turns 1 this month. It is amazing how much energy these four little ones can generate. It is amazing how much energy is expended by two grandparents in less than two hours babysitting four little ones.

But the “grand” part comes with the smile and the outstretched arms. Unconditional love is given by even the youngest. Absolute trust is demonstrated. The best word to describe the emotion I feel is “grand.” It’s the “parenting” side that seems to trip me up. Parenting is always a challenge, and it is not any easier with grandchildren.

My basic philosophy of parenting is to express unconditional love for each child personally, and to help the child always feel secure in that love. As a grandparent, though, I am not the parent. I have to remind myself that I do not always know what is best. That’s where communication with the parents becomes critical. For others, grandparenting is complicated with all kinds of family configurations and relationship stresses. Our discipline and correction has to be in line with the parents’ tactics. This goes for foods and snacks as well as gifts and treats. Another factor is that each grandchild is different from the others in personality, temperament and sensitivity. What worked on their mothers 30 years ago does not necessarily relate to any of their children. I have discovered that I have to be open to learning from my children and their spouses what the best way to “parent” each child is.

I have committed to my children and grandchildren that I will not tell stories about them without their permission. And I have a lot of stories. They are just so cute, smart, profound, life changing. It will always be a challenge, but it is grand.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be grand. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Happy 31st Birthday, Dini

Today our cockatiel Dini, turned 31 years old. Read my post from last year for Dini’s story.

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