Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Day - First Day!

On this last day of the decade and of the year 2009 I am thinking about first days. When I was a kid the last day of school was a launching pad into the first day of summer - nothing was more exciting! By the end of the summer, the last day of summer break was just as exciting as I returned to school on the first day of a new school year.

Last days are wonderful - the last day of a really tough week or month or year - thank the Lord for last days.

First days are exhilarating - all the hope, new beginnings, new opportunities and new challenges - there is nothing like a first day!

Thanks for joining me over the last days of 2009 - I look forward to a new conversation about life in the new days of "twenty ten" - Have a joyous and exciting New Year!

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ten for Ten

As the end of the decade draws near people are reflecting on the most important events of the decade - big news items - things that made the front page and were talked about forever on the so-called news channels. For me those events pale in significance to the more personal events that shaped my decade. I offer 10 for my last 10:

1. 2000 - Running the Big Sur Marathon - the most beautiful and challenging course I have ever run - outstanding! Finishing into the arms of my sweet Linda was so good!

2. 2001 -The initial planning for our new campus and new church building began with hopes and prayers! Looking back, what a miracle God has done!

3. 2002 - The August birth of Ella Walker - the sweetest Granddaughter any Papa could ever have! I also ran Big Sur Marathon again, this time with my buddies Gary and Mike. Still remember Linda being so excited that she exclaimed, "Let's do something dangerous!"

4. 2003 - Running the New York City Marathon with my friend, Gary and 36,000 other amazing people - including P Diddy and his entourage! I dedicated this 26th Marathon to my Dad, who passed away in 2003. We started the race on Staten Island where my Dad did his Medic training during WWII. I still miss dear old Dad. If heaven has dominoes, Dad is at the table!

5. 2004 - The June birth of Owen Walker - my favorite Grandson - no boy has ever made his Papa feel so loved and appreciated!

6. 2005 - Our Fall vacation to the East Coast in Northern Florida - beautiful sunrises, sunsets and perfect weather! Reading, relaxing and recharging with the love of my life, Linda! Having generous friends like Jack and LuAnne made this possible - so blessed!

7. 2006 - Completing my first Triathlon - wet, hot, exhausting and exhilarating! Those hills outside San Marcos were brutal on that bike - thank the Lord for the downhill at the end of the bike course.

8. 2007 - Frio Fun with the Grand kids - a great week on the River with family - river was flowing and the perfect Hill Country weather made those morning runs so enjoyable!

9. 2008 - Moving to our new church campus and church building - what an amazing journey!What a beautiful gift from God!

10. 2009 - Our first Easter at our new Church Campus - over 800 people celebrating the Risen Lord and a new beginning for this good old church family!

None of these events made the front page or headline news but they shaped my life and I am so grateful! As I think about it, the best times of life are times with people you love! I want more!

Who knows the exciting personal events that are ahead - hang on tight - 2010 is on the way!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and New Decade to all!

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snowman in the South

Last week when the unusual blast of cold air came our way in Southeast Texas it snowed! We get snow regularly - on average about every 20 years or so. This makes two years in a row! My Grand kids now believe it snows every year around here. Last year they built a snowman that was about 12 inches high - that's all the snow they could come up with. This time they built one that was about 3 feet tall - they used most of the snow from their back yard to do it. What a wonderful day they had - they were released from school early and spent the afternoon playing in the snow! Good stuff!

I remember a snow event from my childhood. Snow was so rare that my brother and I were shocked and delighted when we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground just a few days before Christmas. We were on Christmas break from school and so we played in the snow all day long or until our hands were so cold that we thought our fingers were going to fall off. We would go in warm up our hands, have some hot chocolate and out we would go again. It was spectacular fun. It was cold enough that a little creek froze over and we played "hill country hockey" for several days. What a great surprise this snowy and cold weather was that Christmas break!

I love life's joyous surprises. They come to us in the most unusual packages. My little brother, was an unplanned and joyous surprise. I know that Mom and Dad must have been shocked when the country Doc told Mom, what she already knew - "Yep, there is one in the oven, little darlin' ".
Even though there were times when I wanted to send him back, what a wonderful gift to have a baby brother. He is still one of the great joys of my life.

A couple I know prayed for many years for a baby - ten years later they had a little girl. Her name was Dawn and she was the joy of their life - one other thing - she had Down Syndrome. No child was more affectionate than this child, none could match her excitement and joy with the most ordinary events - she was a serendipity - an unexpected blessing! Not everything about Dawn's life is easy but her parents could not love her more.

I think about that sweet teenage girl named Mary, who received the word from Gabriel, that she was going to have a baby boy and he would be the Son of the Most High God-Jesus -Immanuel - God with us. Certainly she was shocked but somehow she understood that she was blessed and favored and that God could be trusted. Rather than live in the grip of fear, she opened her heart to God's purposes. Mary truly was full of grace. (Luke 1:26-38)

What surprises does God have in store for you? How will you receive them? Though fear and doubt may be our immediate reaction, trust is the way that leads to genuine joy.

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Time of Feasting and Celebration

On the heels of Thanksgiving and the joyous times of feasting and gratitude I am glancing forward into the month of December. What is ahead is more feasting, more celebrations, more parties and more pounds to battle!

I am convinced that we have a great deal to learn about celebration. We tend to make it something for special occasions which results in over indulging in food, drink, and spending. I am all for celebration - I noticed with great joy that Jesus never turned down an invitation to a dinner. He did turn down the invitation to teach, to preach, and to heal on occasion but never an invitation to dinner. He did his first miracle at a wedding feast and turned the water into wine (not grape juice) and saved the celebration from disaster and embarrassment. Jesus loved a party!

But celebration is more than just food and drink, it is a matter of the heart. In the well-known stories of Jesus in Luke 15, the theme is joy. "Rejoice with me" v. 6 "Rejoice with me" v. 9 "So they began to celebrate." v. 24 The reason for joy is important: a wayward person comes home to his loving Father. When one person turns toward the loving arms of God, it is time to have a feast, strike up the band, dance and celebrate!(v.22-24)

With all the parties and celebrations of December, Christmas and the New Year, I want to remind myself that life year round is meant to be joyous and a celebration! Even without the tinsel, the music, the bright lights we are to rejoice and again, I say rejoice! The joy of the Lord is our strength.

One son, one daughter, one neighbor, one friend who sees the Father running to meet them -- yes sir, that's a reason to have a celebration!

Just thinking, Steve