A note to my dear friends at Highland from your minister, St. Elsewhere. I can't wait to be back with you! Four weeks of language school plus some vacation and study time has made this a summer away. This week our family has been in Estes Park, Colorado, hiking every day in the Rocky Mountain National Park, one of my favorite places in the world. Just the five of us. Having a blast. Nothing quite like hiking up Deer Mountain or up to Bear Lake/ Nymph Lake / Dream Lake / Emerald Lake. Take the beach. Give me the mountains. Sure, I'd miss the goo all over your body, the jellyfish, the sand that won't wash out, the heat, and the skin cancer. But I'll get by. Just set me in the mountains with my hiking boots and my family, and I'll be fine.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005
The Board of Trustees at Lipscomb could not have made a better choice. Just last week I asked people to fill us in on good things happening at various universities. And in my opinion, this is very good news from Nashville. You can read about it at Lipscomb's website (www.lipscomb.edu). Randy and Rhonda Lowry are two incredible spiritual leaders. Randy is a wonderful lawyer, a wise elder (at Conejo Valley in Thousand Oaks), a conflict management guru, and a great Bible teacher. But in addition to that, he's a great guy. The kind you like to hang out with. And Rhonda? I don't even have words. She leaves everyone in her wake feeling blessed and affirmed. She's an insightful student of scripture. Don't want to say more. You get the picture. Congrats to the folks at Lipscomb.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
I still miss Glenn Owen. As many of you know, Glenn was a Highland elder and one of the anchors of Herald of Truth ministries for many years. When I first came to Highland, Glenn and I had a few disagreements in elders' meetings. I felt uncomfortable with the level of disagreements, but each time a meeting was over, Glenn embraced me and told me that we could disagree but walk out as best friends. I'll never forget that lesson. Glenn believed that it was healthy to honestly express your disagreements, that it was good to listen to each other, and that it was important to walk out as friends. Friends don't have to agree all the time. There are scores of Highland "kids" (now in the 20s) who would tell you that one of the most important parts of their faith formation was the group Glenn called his "Prayer Warriors." He would get Highland kids together and tell them that he was counting on them to support him with money and prayers during his mission trips. Little did they realize at the time that their funds hardly supported the trips. But Glenn knew that if they gave their meager resources they would feel invested in missions. He would show up every once in a while on Saturday mornings with a hundred or so Egg McMuffins to report to his prayer warriors about what God was doing through their prayers. Several times Glenn would give our high school grads a quarter each with a note telling them that if they ever get in trouble they could call him and he'd be there ASAP. (This was a few years back -- when calls were two bits!) And once, when one of our high school students ran away from home, Glenn searched night and day looking for him. He searched every hotel and followed every lead in West Texas. When I think of Glenn Owen, I think of the shepherd who searches for the lost sheep.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Finally -- back in the USA after three weeks of language school in Guatemala. I haven't been writing about it because Diane told me that she doesn't like everyone on the internet knowing when I'm out of the country. (Come on, there aren't THAT many people with internet access, are there?) And of course she is right. So I'm going to try to follow my new policy of writing about trips (unless we're all together) after I return. Don't feel bad if you've posted something in the comments about my trip. You were just following my lead. But from now on, please don't mention my absence unless I do. :) And now . . . there is so much to write about. The best part, of course, is that I was with Matt every step of the way. More later. In two hours I'll be back in Abilene. I think this is my longest absence from Diane in our 27 years of marriage. Can't wait to see her and Chris. - - - - Tomorrow is my day to get a call from Dickie Porche. (Highland folks know what that means.) Hey, Pal, I'll have my cell phone on!
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
There are quite a few university students out there peeking in from time to time. Here before colleges start back, would some of you drop a note about good things happening on your campuses? What's going on at ACU, Harding, OCU, Freed, Lipscomb (which I have never visited), Rochester (clearly a leading college of the future), Lubbock, Pepperdine, etc.? And some of you tell us what's happening in the campus ministries at the state schools where you attend. I've been blessed to speak at lots of university events through the years, and some of my favorite have been with students from campus ministries all around. If you're ever in despair about the faith of a coming generation, attend the Gulf Coast Get-a-Way sometime (formerly in Pensacola Beach but now in Panama City).
Friday, July 15, 2005
In three hours it will be July 16 -- six months from a day we'll never forget. Diane was at the church building working on a project with the 6th grade girls she teaches on Wednesday night. I went to pick Chris up. I watched vehicle after vehicle pull into the parking lot with weary teenagers, exhausted from a long, sleep-deprived weekend, pile out. But the vehicle carrying my son never came. "Must have been at the end of the caravan," I thought. Then I caught eye contact with our wonderful new youth minister. I think she tried to hide the terror, but she couldn't. These were kids she loved, too. And she -- and only she at this moment -- knew what had happened. It fell to her to start breaking the news that a certain group of families needed to go to Hendrick's emergency room. I went up to tell Diane. One of the hardest moments of my life. We had buried a daughter; fear filled us at the thought of having to face the loss of another child. At the hospital, our little group of parents huddled in a waiting room, as we waited for the ambulances to arrive. Word came to two families that their children were being airlifted to Ft. Worth. Off they went. Then the others began to arrive. My dear friend Jim Morrison, an ER physician, went into work when he heard about the accident even though he wasn't on call. When Chris came in, Jim came to us trying to put on a brave face. He kept telling us that he looked pretty beat up but that they needed to do some tests. When we saw him -- and I can hardly write this now -- we couldn't really recognize him. He'd be bludgeoned. That's when we leaned into his ears and whispered love, prayer, and a childhood-favorite poem. Very soon Jim delivered the good news that the CT-scan looked pretty good. There was a problem with a vertebrae, but the head looked good on the inside. Shortly after that (or maybe it was during that time -- it's all pretty compressed), news came to the Bourlands that Brody had died. I have come to know Bret and Jennifer Bourland as two amazing people of faith -- but even that doesn't prepare you for such a loss. Well, the story goes on, and I've written about it more than enough in the past. But I'll never forget that before I took off for Ft. Worth by car (since only one parent was allowed on the plane), I posted a note on this blog. January 16. And within hours, we had heard from people all over the world -- people praying for all those who'd been injured and for the Bourlands. I have no words to describe what that means. Watch for an article in the Abilene Reporter-News (www.reporternews.com) with an update on Highland and these families six months after the wreck. I think it will be in tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Just a brief reference today, as I encourage you to keep adding stories to the last entry about your camp experiences. Wow -- what a wonderful visit to the past. Today, I just wanted to suggest that you keep an eye on this site: (www.kcjlane.blogspot.com -- sorry if this repeats, I am having trouble with the link button) Kerri is an incredible single mother of two of the most precious girls I have ever met. They are immersed in the love of God through their mother. As she fights an uphill battle against melanoma, I expect amazing things to come from her computer (assuming she has the time and energy). I would love for many of you to join us at Highland in praying for her. Peace, friends.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Hey, friends. Great drink recipes. Sorry I am such a slacker this summer with my blogs. I will return to regular blogging in a few weeks. For right now, I'm just trying to touch base once in a while. Here are my favorite summer things from my growing up years: water skiing on Table Rock lake, 4th of July fireworks provided by my Granddad, baseball, Green Valley Bible Camp (near Bentonville), trips to Biloxi, hanging out at the pool (until I was older and worked), the visit of my cousins from Florida, riding bikes with my cousin Jeff, and roaming around the neighborhood with my brother. By the way, what are the best summer camp experiences out there?
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Last summer -- I believe it was -- we searched on this site for the perfect guacamole and salsa recipes. How about, with all the recent summer heat, we go for favorite summer drink recipes. Something that will really cool you off. Who has the perfect lemonade recipe . . . .
Monday, July 04, 2005
There are so many things I am thankful for today on the Fourth of July. So many things to be thankful for in our nation's history. But with great blessings comes great responsibility. I'm thankful for every person in government who is working for peace, working for justice, working to speak for those with no voice. May God's guidance and blessings fall on this nation -- along with every other nation of the world.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Two days ago we still had a pre-teen in our house. But no longer. With our boys now 23 and 13, we're very thankful for all the people God has brought into their lives who have encouraged and nurtured them. And I can't help but say this (again): after the wreck in January, we're so thankful that our son has lived to see his 13th birthday. - - - - One thing I loved about Costa Rica and Alaska was that neither got very hot. We had a high each day of about 75 in San Jose, CR, and it got up to about 65-70 in Alaska. That's my idea of summer weather! Friday it was 101 in Abilene! One of God's greatest inventions was AC. - - - - I'm reading Grisham's newest novel, THE BROKER. Much of it is about the difficulty a middle-aged man is having trying to learn a new language. Hmmm.