Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Great Golf Challenge!

I told you last Saturday that I was off to the putt-putt course for head-to-head competition with my Lori. For those of you who don't know us that well, Lori and I are fierce competitors when it comes to games or any other type of matchup. We do remember the scores from each contest. Well, I'm happy to report that I triumphed this time around. I won by 11 strokes, the most ever. Last time she beat me by about 6 strokes, so overall I've pulled ahead.

Trey loved miniature golf. He even beat Lori and I on a couple of holes. In this particular picture, Trey is finishing up the game on Hole 18. He was scared to death of the giant stone face. If you messed up it would spit water out at you. If you got a hole in one fire would shoot out of his eyes. So, yeah, I guess that would be a little harrowing for a 3 year old.

He did a great job, though. He made me proud!

I was hoping that the shadows cast across my body while putting would leave the impression of stripes: "Tiger" stripes! (Thank you, thank you, I'll be here until Tuesday)

Trey and Lori on the links.

Trey tees off.

Friday, September 16, 2005

This satellite photo (alertly sent in by reader, Jon Plank of PA) shows the Waggoner homestead in Frankfort, IN. Since moving from Frankfort, another house has been built on the property, as you can see in the lower left of the yellow trapezoid. That was a lot of mowing (see post below)!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Grace Teens Devo for 9.14.05

Just in case you're interested, this is the devotional that I handed out to Grace Teens for this next week:

Recap of Pastor Keith’s Sermon:

Back in 1996 there was a pretty cool show that debuted on TV called “Early Edition”. Here’s a summary of the show:

A guy named Gary had an orange cat bring him a newspaper every morning (no, I don’t know what the cat had to do with anything). The cool thing was that the paper was for the next day. The headlines informed him of what was going to happen. Gary had a choice as to how he could use this information. He could either use it for his own good or utilize it to benefit the lives of others.Now, think about it. If you knew in advance what was going to be happening, it would be extremely tempting to use that information to make yourself filthy rich. “OK, the numbers for the SuperLotto Jackpot of $546 million is…Let’s see, the stocks I want to buy today are…”
During the show, there was this constant tension that Gary struggled with between doing what was right and selfishly using the knowledge for his own gain.

Most of the time, Gary the hero, used this gift to save people’s lives or to give back to society. However, every decision he made impacted the headlines that would be on the REAL paper that arrived on his doorstep that evening.

Guys, it’s very unlikely that you are going to receive the inside scoop on what’s going to be happening in the future. The future is murky, clouded over with the many different options available to us. We can plan for the future, we can anticipate the future, but unlike Gary, we cannot predict what’s going to happen.

The cool thing about being a Christian is that we have put our trust in Someone who controls everything that will ever take place. If we truly surrender everything to Christ, our lives are in His hands. However, we need to remember that every choice we make, every action we take is writing a headline for tomorrow's newspaper.

This week check out the following Scriptures on God’s Plan for Our Lives and Surrendering to Him:
Trusting God With Our Future: Psalm 32:8; Psalm 119:130; Isaiah 30:21 (remember the blindfold illustration); Jeremiah 10:23; Jeremiah 29:11; James 1:5
Surrender to Christ: Psalm 37:3-5; Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 16:3; Romans 12:1-2

Trey and My Lesson

Trey is the man! Here he poses underneath a tree in our backyard.

Today, Kassady was sick with a viral infection, from which she has recovered with no damage to herself, but with great damage done to my two pillows (they're in the trash can right now; I know, overshare), so I took Trey to his dentist appointment to get two caps put on. He went absolutely nuts! First of all, they wouldn't let me go back with him, which I thought was a little strange considering that this would be slightly traumatic for a 3 year old. Mistake #1. They tried to put this breathing mask on him that resembles those worn by F-16 fighter pilots. Mistake #2. Trey went postal! He was jerking, sobbing, and unable to focus by the time they called me in. I sat beside the bed holding Trey's hand. I tried my best to get him calmed down, to just lay back in the seat, but to no avail.

I finally scheduled another appointment (which involves sedation) and walked out embarrassed and more than a little frustrated. I was pretty upset with Trey, until about a couple of miles down the road it hit me! He's a little kid! He hasn't gone through this before. It's brand-new territory for him. I have perspective. I know this is going to be a good thing for him. He just sees what's going on right then and it's more than a little scary.

After asking God to forgive me for my impatience and lack of compassion for my little guy, I thought about what God goes through with us. We hit something that's pretty deep and overwhelming and what do we do? We go nuts! We might not flail around and burst out into loud sobs, but we definitely stress out and try to figure out everything for ourselves. All we're seeing is what's going on around us. We can't even begin to comprehend the implications.

I'm glad God doesn't get embarrassed or frustrated with us. Yeah, He's trying to tell us to just relax. He has perspective. He knows what is going on. He's sitting there beside us the whole time. But, most importantly, He doesn't get upset with us and walk away. His grace, His kindness, and His deep overwhelming love surrounds us even though we might not feel or comprehend His presence.

God, through what to me was just an ordinary experience, taught me a lesson about how He views His role as my heavenly Father. It reminded me of the Phillips, Craig, and Dean song:

"Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be like me"*

I want to be like Jesus.

*Lyrics and Music: Joy Becker and Dan Dean

Lori thought that this picture was sooo funny. I happened to be whistling while I read the top half of the paper (no, I'm not reading it upside down). I didn't even realize that she took the pic. OK, Lori, this one's for you. Enjoy!

Character-building (see post below).

Mind Over Mowing

I just finished mowing the spacious lawns of the Waggoner Estate. It takes me approximately 25 minutes to mow and weedeat our lawn. We do have a larger than usual lawn for our area. We also have 6 mature trees on our property, so I do quite a bit of weed-whacking as well.

When I saw this picture, my mind was instantly transported back across the vast expanse of time (15 years, to be exact) to the days of mowing the Waggoner field. To those of you who visited the old homestead in the grand village of Frankfort, Indiana, you will most likely remember the cornfield that occupied the lot to the left of the house (perspective: viewing 2107 W. Green St. from the street itself). My father purchased the nearly 1-acre lot sometime during those formative years where character is supposed to be learned and practiced. It was a great place for the occasional neighborhood baseball game and go-cart track, but it lost it's allure come mowing time.

You see, we owned two lawn mowers: one was the old-fashioned push mower without a motor possessing the rustiest blades this side of a Kentucky junkyard; the other was a motorized push mower. This mower did not have the little switch that you shove down to engage the automatic walk-behind feature that so many do today. No, remember we were learning character. This mower was engaged by you placing your hands on the handlebar and with all of the power generated by your skinny little arms, pushed across the field. My brother and I had more character than any other kid in the area.

My brother and I had more fights over who's turn it was to mow the lawn. Bobby can set me straight, but I don't ever recall my Dad using the push mower on the field. Nope, this was good for us. "The discipline will pay off in the future", he would often tell us, following that line up with, "If you can't get a little yard like this mowed, you'll never amount to a hill of beans." Bobby and I, not being quite sure what the euphemism "hill of beans" referred to, but being pretty sure we didn't want to become one, would trundle off to the garage and frantically pull the starter cord approximately 29 times until the little 1.5 hp engine sputtered to life. We then would walk behind the mower, accumulating enough mileage to qualify for a roundtrip to Sweden and back, flying Delta.

The entire time we were muttering unmentionable words under our breath vowing to never make our kids endure this kind of torturous routine. I don't exaggerate a bit when I tell you that at the end of our mowing our hands would freeze into a semi-clutched grasp. We would literally have to pry our fingers off of the handlebar. For the next 30 minutes we walked around looking like some type of unusual stroke victim. Parental abuse we called it.

I still remember the day Dad bought the John Deere riding mower. It was brand-new, beautiful, shiny and had a mowing deck that covered 3 times as much territory at a drive-by than our midget mower. Bobby and I went out to meet Dad and the new mower, this time pretty excited about the possibility of mowing the yard. HA! Dad wouldn't let us on the mower. He said, "Guys, I'm afraid you'll mess this up. I'll do it myself." I never rode that mower. I graduated from high school and headed off to college, never having the opportunity to sit on the yellow seat. So much for character!

The years have passed. I have a boy, I have a yard, I have a push-mower (albeit one of those fancy automatic ones). For some reason the concept of kids mowing the yard being abusive is beginning to fade into the mist of yesterday. In fact, as you see in one of the pictures above I'm already training Trey.

I told him that it builds character.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Presence

Isn't it great when God just takes over a service? I've recently witnessed several powerful instances of the Spirit of God settling down in our midst at Grace Bible Church.

The last few teen services have been especially marked with the presence of God. This past Wednesday was incredible! God is beginning to do something special in the lives of our youth group. I use many sermon aids when sharing the message God has given me. Music, skits, visual illustrations, and multimedia are utilized when appropriate. Normally, most teen services are started off with either an informal or high-energy approach. I then segue into my sermon with a chorus, personal illustration, or something that is an attention-grabber.

However, this past week I felt God leading me in a different direction. While normally spending the opening moments with choruses and small-talk, I knew that this service was to be different. I used a video for part of my presentation called "Rain". Produced by Rob Bell, pastor of the Mars Hill Church in Grandville, MI ( this video took a personal illustration from the life of Rob and weaved through the story a message of God's faithfulness and help in the dark times we often face.

The Holy Spirit settled down in a close way that I have rarely witnessed in any of the other ministries I've been a part of. Many of the teens shared with me the hurts that have overwhelmed them. Most of them shared that there have been times when they felt that God let them down. We were able to talk frankly about the problem of pain, the frustration of trying to find God, as well as God's response to our hurts. I didn't realize the hurts many of my teens were struggling with.

I saw God began to break down some of those walls Wednesday evening. Did I see an overwhelming response to the message? No, not in the sense of the altars being lined. But I have seen God begin to do a new thing in the lives of my teens since that time. I truly believe that revival is on the way. It's pretty incredible to just be there.

God is good all the time, people! Joel 2:28.

By the way, you need to check out the videos available from Rob Bell at Great stuff!

National Quartet Convention 05

This week is one of my favorites. The National Quartet Convention is on (this Monday through Saturday) featuring many of my favorite Southern Gospel groups. To listen live visit or listen to 950 AM (for Idaho blog visitors).

This is not the vocal stack that you hear in many of the "live" concerts. The broadcast is taken directly from the mics of the vocalists bypassing the vocal stacks that give that smooth sound in concert. It's a fantastic way to find out which groups are legitimately good and which groups fake it.

I can tell you, from what I've heard so far, the Perrys, Brian Free and Assurance, Crossway Quartet, and the Reggie Sadler family are for real. There are several who are just awful! Some quartets need to spend more time practicing their licks instead of hitting the links.

Overall, though, it's been a fantastic auditory experience! There's nothing like SG!

Monday, September 12, 2005

I have a feeling that Kassady will be a person who never has a stifled thought or opinion. If she doesn't like something, she tells you. Lori, with clenched jaw, attempts to force-feed dinner to Kassady, who through tactful body language, politely refuses.

When Kassady is done eating, she doesn't waste time informing you of the fact. She abruptly stands up and attempts to dive out of the high chair.

Kassady eating a nutritious and creative meal featuring the blending of hotdogs and grapes.

Here's the token Trey pic that I must post. He's a real ham. He has a real problem with me if I take a picture of Kassady and leave him out of the mix. He gets it honest. I always tried to subtly drift into any family pictures not including me when I was four. There are entertaining pictures of me at my grandma and grandpa's 25th wedding anniversary. You will notice my tousled blond-hair in nearly every picture. There are pictures of me standing in front of family members who, to this day, I still don't recognize.

Morning Person

Kassady definitely takes after me in the morning. She's all bright, cheerful, and chirpy upon waking up. When Lori and I first got married, we had to compromise. I'm a morning person. Early to bed, early to rise is my mantra. Whereas, Lori's idea of early to bed is early morning (such as 1:30 AM or so). We have finally reached that happy medium, where I go to bed at 11:00 PM and she wakes up at 7:30 AM.

When we were dating and traveling for GBS (choir and band), I learned not to talk to her before 9:30 AM. She had the early-morning personality of a saber-tooth tiger. When we would have those 4:30 AM leave times (remember the Alabama to Florida trip, children?), the only people awake and conversing were Deanna Wolf and myself. I do believe we caused many students to lose their sanctification. The carnal spirit many times showed it's ugly head during those wee hours of the morn.

Of course, I must admit that I have the personality of a brick wall after 10:30 in the evening. A befuddled, drooling brick wall. Lori has learned to never share anything important with me once I am laying in the bed. I'm out!

Kassady definitely is an early riser. She wakes up whistling "Zippity-Doo-Dah" and telling hilarious jokes that only she can understand and laugh at. Her jolly nature comes shining through.

II and III showing off there couch potato form.

Grace Teens Volleyball

The first volleyball game of the Grace Teens fall season debuted last Wednesday. They got skills (I know, LaRona, bad English)!

Tyson and Eli go head-to-head in the dramatic final game of the Grace Teens volleyball showdown.

Miranda in Motion.
Brooke shows off her serve!

Two of Grace's finest teens (and GCA students), Shawna and Brooke, chill during lunch.