A Beautiful Day For a Wedding

Sunday afternoon I was in College Station to perform a wedding. The happy couple are members of my church and have planned long and prepared well. It was a joy and an honor to officiate their wedding as a wedding is about getting married.

Yesterday they had their wedding, today they are married.

The word “wedding” comes from the Old English “weddian” meaning, “a pledge.” A wedding is the joining of two people who have pledged to each other.

A wedding gives birth to a marriage. 

Weddings are rich in tradition and range from the fabulously expensive big white wedding to two people standing in my office. Typically, weddings contain the following elements:

  • Someone to perform the ceremony
  • A wedding license
  • Vows or words of promise
  • Rings
  • A verbal response of “I do”
  • The pronouncement of “husband and wife”
  • A kiss of some kind

I perform on average six weddings a year. Some are held in churches while others are event/destination weddings. Some are members of my church and some are from the community. Half a dozen a year doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve been doing them for forty years.

Some observations from having officiated 240 weddings:

  • Grooms are typically nervous, perspire and wonder why all the expense and fuss.
  • It’s a priceless look on a groom’s face when he sees his bride walking up the aisle.
  • I’ve never seen a bride walk the aisle who wasn’t smiling radiantly.
  • Someone cries: the bride, groom, parent, grandparent, or all of them.
  • No matter what they say, wedding pictures never take “just a few minutes.”
  • Receptions are about: relief, joy, tears, celebration, pride, and a little sadness too.

Weddings are rich in tradition and laced with sacred customs.

KrisandraEvans.com | Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Yonah Mountain Vineyard
Not us, or our wedding place, but close, really very close.

I’ve performed weddings in huge churches, tiny churches, standing in two feet of snow, standing on the edge of mountain cliffs, next to rivers, in homes and wedding chapels, in the parlors of Bed and Breakfasts, in my office and all kinds of places.

The two most memorable weddings?

My own and my daughters.

 

 

 

 

The Loyal Sports Fan

Team loyalty gets me into trouble with the friendly and the not so friendly. I know, already you are asking, “What?” Well, does team loyalty necessitate an acidic hatred of all other players, coaches, teams and cities?

Some say a definitive yes. I dare to say a cautious no. 

Don’t hate me.

 FAN LOYALTY?

  • Root for the local team, hate all others.
  • If two local teams: swear undying loyalty to whoever came first.
  • Only wear the caps, shirts, jackets and underwear of your team.
  • Amp up support for post season events.
  • Face painting strongly recommended, but not absolute.
  • Body painting for men with weight problems acceptable.
  • Tailgate & halftime parties, snacks, and victory celebrations required.
  • Boo, hiss, complain, insult, yell, and throw things at opposing teams
  • (If watching on TV, ignore the thing about throwing stuff)

HERE’S A THING

What happens when your company relocates you to another city? Do you remain loyal to your old team or do you drop them and embrace a new one?

EXAMPLES…

If you get transferred from Boston to Dallas are you required to hate the Patriots and love the Cowboys?

If you get transferred from Houston to New York are you required to hate the Astros and love the Yankees?

I know, the wisdom of Solomon wouldn’t be enough. 

Speaking of loyalty, should you be loyal to your spouse only when you are in town? Can you be unfaithful as long as you are in another city? Shouldn’t spousal loyalty be absolute regardless of where you are? Does geography determine loyalty?

Here’s another: Do you still love America when you are out of the country? Based on Fan Loyalty Guidelines, when I’m in Port-au-Prince, Mexico City,  Beijing or Jerusalem I should be loyal to Haiti, Mexico, China and Israel. It’s just a thought.

AND ME?

Forty years ago I became a Florida Gator fan. It doesn’t matter why. We currently live in Houston, Texas and have for 23 years. It’s been tough as there are several college teams of note in this state. Here is how I’ve steered through these shark-infested waters.

Florida Field
That’s not me there on the left. Close, really very close, but no. 
  • I love the Texas Aggies, Longhorns, Red-Raiders, Cougars, Horned Frogs, Mustangs and Bears and just over 1200 high school teams.
  • I love the: Texans, Cowboys, Astros, Rangers, Rockets and Mavericks

Sure, I have my favorites, but I don’t boo, hiss, say horrible things or chuck stuff at the other players. Can I cheer, root, clap, and support my team without hating and denigrating the other teams and players?

NOW JESUS

His disciples once rebuked a man for trying to do miracles. Jesus told them to leave him alone, that he wasn’t their enemy.

Speaking of enemies, Jesus taught his followers to pray for them, to be kind to those who would persecute them, and to forgive everyone.

I know, it’s tough to discuss sports and fan loyalty when you bring Jesus into it. 

TO CLOSE

This morning I’m giving thanks that even though he loved his fellow Israelites, Jesus still offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for all others too. Like me.

Thank you Jesus for not booing, hissing, yelling or saying horrible things or throwing things at me because I’m not from Jerusalem. You are the best!

Shalom

World’s Biggest of its Kind

HERE’S SOMETHING

According to the internet the biggest car wash in the world is here in the Houston area.

Also big is the Astrodome that opened in 1965 and was the world’s first multi-purpose sports stadium and the first air-conditioned dome. It cost $35 million to build and into today’s economy would cost $278 million. It was dubbed,

“The Eighth Wonder of the World”

There is an anti-Astrodome group who lobbies to have it torn down to make room for  parking and green space. However, early in 2018 Harris County Commissioners voted unanimously to restore the Dome at a cost of $105.

POLITICS?

The chief advocate for Dome revival was Ed Emmett but he lost his seat on the Commission to Lina Hildago who steered the Commission to put a hold on Dome renewal believing that Houston needs to invest funds in flood control and other needs essential for a better quality of life for its residents. So once again, the debate rages and it seems unclear if the plans for the Dome will resume or not.

Dome 1Dome 2

NOW JESUS

One day in sunny Jerusalem, the Christ was teaching the crowds in the temple courts. Some of his disciples commented on the stones used for the temple, and rightly so, for  the base stones weighed 165,000 pounds each.

They said, “Look, Rabbi, What massive stones, what magnificent buildings”.

Jesus had some interesting interactions with stones, of which Judea had no short supply.

  • The temptation in the desert, “Tell these stones to become bread”.
  • “God can raise up these stones to become children of Abraham”.
  • Speaking of children, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out”.
  • “And they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus slipped away.”

Big or small, for good or evil, stones, rocks and boulders were a daily part of life in Judea. Houses were built of stone walls, as were fences and buildings.

He would also say of the temple to his impressionable disciples,

“All these stones will be torn down, not one will be left upon another”.

FOR HOUSTON

Houston has other impressive buildings, quite a few actually. But perhaps nothing as impressive as the Dome, or at least as it once was. Will it stand? Will it be torn down? Who knows?

But perhaps it’s not the most impressive thing. For somewhere in the Houston suburb of Katy is the world’s largest car wash. It’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records. Its 255 feet in length, which is almost a football field. Seems fitting since the Dome was the home of the Houston Oilers Football Team, as well as and Astros. It’s still home for the Houston Rodeo, which receives 2.5 million visitors annually.

TO CLOSE

I just ask that we take a moment to see Jesus, high and lifted up, and offer a simple word of praise to his name. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and is bigger than Buc-ee’s Car Wash.

Car Wash
Pretty Impressive Huh?

Just Skating By

Last night we had an All Church Skate Party at Fun-City SK8 & Play. It was a blast. Mind you we didn’t get the whole church; I don’t think 445 families would have fit. But we had a lovely group and it was fun.

Skate Party 1
Not our skaters, close, really very close, but not the same.

SKATING?

I didn’t skate. I can skate. I know how to skate but I didn’t. Mostly, I didn’t want to fall down a lot. There, I said it. It’s possible that I could have gone around without falling but it wouldn’t have been probable. What would have been probable is that I’d fall and couldn’t get up,

“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” 

People would have helped me, at least the kids would have. There is nothing more kind, more sweet, or more reassuring than a pod of five year olds assisting you to your feet. Bless their skating little hearts.

THE QUESTION

Children of various ages asked why I wasn’t skating. Within the following responses is one honest answer. Can you discern which one?

  1. “I accidentally brought my ice skates instead of my roller skates.”
  2. “My skates have metal wheels and those aren’t permitted.”
  3. “My rollerskating skills would have intimidated you kids.”
  4. “I was a professional Roller Derby skater and now I have bad knees.”
  5. “Falling a lot would have been injurious to my ego and other parts.”

THE ADULTS

So, instead of skating I did what most of the adults did. I socialized while watching the kids, and some of their parents, go around and around and they did great. Hardly anyone fell. Well, one dad repeatedly fell and we tried not to laugh but we did.

CONVERSATIONS

Here are but a few of the conversations I enjoyed:

  1. Talked with a new family that’s been coming to church for a few weeks.
  2. Talked with a school teacher about her class and how it’s going.
  3. Chatted with a grandfather who was there to take pictures of his grandkids.
  4. Had some discussion with a couple of Dads who are in men’s group with me.
  5. Had conversation with some of our ministers who were there.

LEAVING

I left a little early. Went home to watch the Sunday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. Cowboys lost 12-10.

I should have stayed at the party.

IN CLOSING

It was fun and I’ll go again. Probably won’t skate, again. Probably will stand and socialize with parents and interact with the skaters, the kids going around and around and stopping to tease me for not skating.

It was a sweet time with some of my brothers and sisters and some very fun moments with those to whom Jesus has pledged his kingdom.

Maybe I need to invest in a new pair of skates.

Maybe not.  

Skate Party 2

The Crossover Kids

Sunday evening we hosted some 5th-6th graders for a pool and pizza party, and twenty-three kids attended. It was a great event and we had a really good time.

QUESTIONS

Here are some of their questions that I found amusing:

  1. “Has anyone ever died in your pool?”
  2. “Does your house have anything to drink?”
  3. “What should I do with my money while I swim?”
  4. “Can you hold my towel so it doesn’t get dirty?”
  5. “Can I have more than one brownie?”

And there were others.

They were sweet kids and I knew most of them but not all so was glad to get better connected. Our church calls them the CROSSOVER KIDS because they are too old for Children’s Ministry and too young for Youth Ministry, they are in the process of crossing over from preteens to teens. Each month they have a fellowship event and last night was the first of the new school year.

MOBY DICK

At the beginning I was in the pool and holding my own, but then the kids got in. I did okay with the first ten or twelve, but by the time fifteen or more got in they just sort of beached me like a big sad whale.

image1
Can you find me in the picture? I’m the one with thinning grey hair floundering about.

SOME OBSERVATIONS

  1. 5th and 6th grade boys live somewhere between wanton destructiveness and shyly asking for a second brownie.
  2. They used the pool “noodles” for sword fighting and for whacking each other and found all manner of other unimagined uses.
  3. At no time did the genders interact. The boys populated the deep end while the girls frolicked in the shallow end.
  4. As a rule, the girls manifested a more mature behavior than the boys.
  5. They boys were showing off for each other, and for the girls, while the girls pretended not to notice. I think they were doing a little showing off too.

IN CLOSING

After swimming for 90 minutes and devouring nine large pizzas and a big tray of brownies their parents arrived to pick them up. Before leaving they each came and thanked us for having them to our home.

They were well mannered and delightful kids. I’m proud to be their Preacher.

image1 2
We could tell they are getting good parenting. 

I think we will have them over next year!

 

 

The Following Is a True Story

Have you ever imagined winning the lottery? That one day all the magic numbers line up and you are an instant millionaire. Or even more!

lottery tickets
Not the lotto tickets my wife bought, but close, really very close.

Have you ever wondered if somewhere out there was a distant relative you didn’t know about? Then one day a lawyer calls requesting your presence for the reading of the will and you inherit millions of dollars!

pile-of-cash
The reading of the will, a pile of cash! 

WELL, IT HAPPENED TO ME

Yep, it’s true. I was contacted by a law firm in Alberta, Canada informing me that a relative had passed away. The relative had a life insurance policy but the benefit hasn’t been paid because the deceased didn’t leave a will or stipulate a beneficiary. The firm has been searching for a living relative and they found one, me. 

HOW MUCH?

I know you’re wondering. Well, it’s a staggering amount: $9,820,000.

After reading the letter and then getting up off the floor I started thinking of what I would do with the money. How much would I give to my church? How much would I give to my kids? How much would I give to my government?  I would definitely get new tires for my wife’s car and probably buy a new fly rod. I’m such a visionary. 

I wondered if Sunday would be my last day on the job? 

AND THEN?

I should probably mention that the law firm didn’t contact me in person, nor by phone, email, registered mail or by telegram. It was by fax. I didn’t know people still used fax machines. We have one in the office, it’s a dinosaur, but it’s how I got the letter. They obviously tracked me down and discovered where I was employed.

HOWEVER

After further reflection, and some internet surfing, I’ve determined that it’s probably a scam aimed at getting my SS number, bank account numbers and so forth. Wouldn’t surprise me if they needed money to pay filing and processing fees and to compensate them for their time. 

Also, the fax had misspelled words, a rather awkward writing style and other clues indicating it was less than a professional document. 

Therefore, amidst great sadness, I’ve concluded that I’m not going to be a ten-millionaire and should forget all about it.

Sunday will not be my last day on the job. I hope.

TO CLOSE

Wow, now I wish I hadn’t gone ahead with the tires, talk about spending money before you have it! 

Oh well, live and learn. 

The High Five

WHAT’S A HIGH FIVE?

We have lots of ways to demonstrate our excitement. One of the most prominent is, “The High Five,” the act of raising up a hand, thus the five fingers, and slapping someone else’s raised hand.

Although it seems to have been around forever, dictionaries have only included the term as a noun since 1980 and as a verb, or the action of the high five, since 1981.

WHY DO WE DO IT?

  • it’s the joy of victory
  • it acknowledges someone doing something noteworthy
  • it’s a celebratory gesture for anything that makes us happy
  • it’s just fun

THE FIRST HIGH FIVE

It first happened at Dodger Stadium on October 2, 1977, in the last game of the season. Dusty Baker hit a homer that made the Dodgers the first team ever to have four players hit thirty home-runs. As Baker was rounding the bases, Glenn Burke, the next hitter, went to the plate to congratulate him.  He did so by raising his hand up high, and Baker returned the gesture.

From Dusty Baker:

“His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back. So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed liked the thing to do.”

And the High Five Was Born

WHO GIVES HIGH FIVES

  • professional athletes
  • athletes of all kinds
  • coaches of all teams
  • children, teens and college kids
  • adults of all ages for all kinds of reasons

WHAT HAPPENED?

It happened last Sunday morning during first service. It was time for the offering, and the children were cued to come and give their gifts that support Haitian kids for Christian education. They drop change and dollar bills into a basket. It’s a big deal in our church and the kids love it.

Afterwards, they walk back to their parents. On that Sunday, as they were walking back, a little girl sweetly smiled and put her hand up. So, I smiled back, put my hand up and she smacked it. I loved it. A few feet behind her was a mom with her very young son, I think he is almost two. He was adorable. She’s teaching him to be generous with those in need. He doesn’t understand yet, but he will, and it will become part of his character.

Then it happened. 

He had watched the girl give me the high five, so he headed my direction. He could barely walk and was holding one of his mom’s fingers. He looked at me excidedly and raised his little hand. We shared a high five. He was so happy. The whole thing made me emotional.

IN CLOSING

I like kids. I’ve learned that kids like to have adults pay attention to them. An adult who notices them and cares about the things they care about is very like Jesus, who always welcomed the children, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

IMG_1894

“And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” 

Mark 10:16

 

 

 

The Future Looks Bright!

FAMILY CAMP

Camp United is our annual retreat for young families. Young means parents with children of all ages. We use the Trinity Pines Christian Conference Center just a few miles outside of Trinity, Texas. It’s camp! But it’s a fun camp.

There’s paddle boating, fishing, swimming, kid’s games, a ropes course, a fabulous playground, hiking trails and so much more. We have a massively chaotic color war and a hilarious finger rocket battle. We worship and praise and we learn and we grow. We become a little better equipped as parents.

IMG_9486
Cups of colored corn starch, 140 people, you can do the math. That’s not me at this year’s Camp United, but it’s close, really very close. 

THINGS I NOTICED THIS YEAR

Parents holding hands with their kids while they walked around the camp. With one family the kids were fourteen and twelve.

Watching single moms with their children. Single moms are all in because they have to be. Everything is up to them. Some of the sweetest and most impressive kids at camp were one parent kids.

I watched young mothers caring for their babies and toddlers. They were loving, patient and nurturing. I got to hold a few of them. They still wiggle and squirm and want down!

I saw young fathers spending time with their young children. They played games and walked along the lake and hung out together. Nothing touches my heart like watching a young father be a good dad.

The campfire Saturday night was special. We were sitting in circles around the campfire, kids, teens, parents and adults, worshiping and singing praises. Then, it was Smores. It was so on.

At the pool I laughed and laughed watching some dads compete to make the biggest splash off the diving board. It was comedy gold.

In our Sunday worship we took time for each family to find some space on the floor or to circle their chairs. They were to share the Lord’s Supper as a family. They huddled close to read scripture, to talk and to learn about the bread and the cup. Parents were teaching their children. Fathers were leading their families. It was a beautiful thing.

IN CLOSING

Saturday was my birthday. I spent my birthday at camp; at my age you don’t really care where you celebrate your birthday. But being there, and turning sixty-three, reminded me that there are far more days behind than there are ahead. I will be long gone when those parents reach my age.

So, I have to tell you, I like how the future looks.

A Text Message

Here is the text I received from my daughter.

“Congratulate us Dad, we own a house!”

They do indeed. My daughter and Son-in-Law have been looking for some time. As it often happens, they fell in love with the first house they found but waited too long to make an offer. They lost it. Lesson learned.

Then they couldn’t find another house that measured up to the first one. I think they got discouraged. She texted me:

“We will never find another house we like as much as the first house.”

But they did.

In fact, they liked it better. They moved forward quickly, their agent made an offer and it was accepted. She texted me:

“Dad, I’m so excited but starting to feel a lot of anxiety, is that normal?”

She asked if we could have lunch. “Of course we can,” I replied. They live in Houston, as we do, at least we have a Houston address. They live in an area known as the Heights and their new home is in the Heights. She had questions about house inspectors, closing procedures, and so forth. I like it that my daughter still looks to her dad for such things.

They’ve been married for a few years and I got to officiate their wedding. They are happy but in no hurry to start a family. It’s surprising that she isn’t at all receptive to my comments regarding their child bearing rate of speed.

IMG_0020
That was a good day. It was an emotional day. You are never finished being a parent to your kids.

She is a therapist with a successful practice and he is in commercial construction management. Their house is newer and nicer than our house and costs twice as much. She has already declared that this year’s Christmas will be at their house. I texted her:

Maybe we will sell our house and move in with you.

I haven’t heard back.

IN CLOSING

Like all good fathers I love my kids beyond human communication. To see the depth of my love you would need to listen to my heart. I’m am so proud of my kids.

Today, I congratulate my daughter for reaching this milestone. Way to go kid, nice job.

“Congratulate us Dad, we own a house!”

 

 

Monday Morning Blessings

Good morning and welcome to a new week and a fresh Monday morning. There are things to do, places to go, and kids to get to school. It’s a new week but I’m not sure I’m finished with last week.

Here are some things that were going on:

  1. Chemical storage tanks were on fire in the Houston Ship Channel and air quality warnings were issued for several communities.

“Oil byproducts from a damaged storage facility contaminated the Houston Ship Channel and created a cloud of cancer-causing benzene over the waterway, the latest mutation of one the worst Gulf Coast chemical disasters in more than a decade.”

cd4ef0c2-02c8-4e33-b1e2-7fb40bddbcd9-AP_Petrochemical_Fire_Texas

 

2. Yesterday morning, Sunday, we all came in for church to find that the A/V system was down and was not going to be up. We used a portable sound system and sang from something called a song book. Wow, I’ve seen them in museums. 

3. I got to take a friend to lunch, a precious 10 year old who I’ve known since she was a baby. I have a picture of her sitting in my lap in church when she was a year old. She is one of my favorites. We went to Outback Steak House and shared ribs, fries and a brownie covered in fudge and ice cream. I love kids. 

IMG_1894
Such a sweet girl and such a good friend. 

4. I got to see a movie with one of my kids. He is 34 and we like going to movies together, always have. I’m never happier than when I’m doing something with one or both of my kids.

IMG_0395
He is a visionary. Also the leader of our annual Christmas family nerf war.

TO CLOSE

Last week was scary, dangerous, frustrating, sweet and fun. I’m guessing this week will have its own ups and downs, its own heart beat. There will be people to spend time with and the likelihood of something unforeseen, a surprise that may or may not be welcome.  

However, I love life. I love my family and I love my church family. On this fresh Monday morning of a brand new week I am feeling especially blessed. God be with you!

Shalom