Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Good Day; August 25, 2013

The last two months I've been wanting to go out and do the Run For Wellness 5K at George Bush Park in west Houston.

The alarm was set for 5 a.m. as I would need to be on the road by 5:30 a.m. for the 7:00 a.m. race start.

Things came and went.  I slept in.  I don't know that I needed it, but it felt good nonetheless.

After coming home last Sunday evening from leaving Waverly at Liberty University and the week-long tour of minor league ball parks, I had plans to be at North Park Baptist Church on Sunday morning - regardless of whether I ran the race or not.

But not until after the song service.

I even had told my parents that Saturday night after I picked them up at George Bush Intercontinental (IAH).

I've handled everything pretty well so far; however, there were many Sundays that I was in church just to watch her sing - even when she wasn't singing a special.

I walked in the vestibule area at about 10:45 a.m. and the song service wasn't yet over.

Speaking to Ruth Lucas for a couple of minutes, my voice cracked a little and she reached out and rubbed my arm in loving consolation.

Pastor Randy Harp had an excellent service with evidence from scripture about how that we're living in the last days.

The video at the beginning of his sermon was one of the most powerful that I've ever witnessed in my life about what it will be like - and how quick - when the rapture occurs.

You can witness it here.

We were also treated to Chris Stone singing Casting Crowns' song, "While You Were Sleeping", in the middle of the sermon.

The story behind the song from the group's lead singer and songwriter, Mark Hall, can be found here.  It is an interesting and insightful read.

After church, I went home, changed and went to the gym where I ran 60 minutes on the treadmill.

I came home, showered and then went to Meyer Park - near Steubner Airline and Cypresswood - to visit with a very good friend of mine, Edwin Quarles, as we watched his youngest daughter, Jenna, play soccer on an 11-Under team from the Beaumont area.  (She's 10.)

I was there for about an hour and 15 minutes and I enjoyed visiting with Edwin, who I've been friends with now for seven to eight years.

I stopped to get a bite to eat before arriving home to be able to talk with Waverly for about 45 minutes in recapping her first week-plus at Liberty.

It was an awesome conversation.  I think one of the greatest privileges - and challenges - I've been given by God is to be the parent of a Godly young woman.

I hope when things are all said and done that she'll realize that I've loved her unconditionally with all of my heart.

When she went to Liberty last week, I also lost my barber.

So it was my mother who nervously agreed to take control of the clippers and in her first effort in 45 years since my father was in the Marine Corps, she did a pretty good job.

I've been blessed the last two evenings of spending approximately an hour or more with my Mom and Dad at their place and when I left this evening, their time, respect and love never meant more to me than it did now.

Today was an example of a day that was simple, yet very meaningful.  I sure hope there are many more like this to follow.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Start 1,300+ Miles From Home; August 19, 2013

Last week, her Mom and I left Waverly in Lynchburg, Virginia for her to start college today at Liberty University.  We - and a host of other wonderful people (family, friends, church members, classmates and others) - are incredibly excited for the latest chapter in her life.

I sit here at my desk and look at the picture frame that she left for me before she departed the Thursday before last.  It is one where she is surrounded by seven (7) young men and women that live in the slums of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.

The smile on her face is infectious.  It is hard not to smile back at the picture.

And I want to say that the picture frame came from the Bishara women there with the beads that they string together to make jewelry and other products for sale - and their own self-sustainment.

On Thursday of last week, I would say that we all were able to see God's hand at work in a visit to the Student Accounts Office.  Now, this isn't to say that she magically received a discount on her tuition or room and board.  Rather, I believe that God showed the first of many reasons why He has led Waverly to Liberty.

I wanted to make sure that amounts were getting drafted from my bank account correctly as the amounts that I thought were on the original plan at the end of January weren't what was coming out of my account.

Once we confirmed what was going on, the advisor shared with Waverly that the best thing that she could do - as an incoming freshman - was to get plugged in somewhere - church, small group, etc.  Waverly indeed has a well-thought out plan for this.  However, he went on to share that he transferred in after his first two years.

He said that he went to a small school in Springfield, Missouri, Baptist Bible College.  We all looked at each other and smiled as our church, North Park Baptist Church, and its founding pastor, Dr. John Gross, and current pastor, Randy Harp, have been heavily involved in - and are graduates of - BBC for parts of 50 or more years.

The advisor went on to say that he was aware of Randy and North Park.

He offered for Waverly to reach out to him or his wife, who was on staff at Thomas Road Baptist Church, whenever she needed.

The other two instances were stories that Waverly related to me over the past three days.

The first was making a connection Friday night at an incoming freshman function at Williams Stadium from a couple of young adults from our church who traveled this summer as part of the Lift Ministries team.  They had told Waverly to be on the lookout for a particular individual with a distinct name.  She didn't believe that she would encounter them so quickly.

The second came on Sunday when she visited Heritage Baptist Church in Lynchburg, which is pastored by the son of the missionaries that she visited in Tanzania.  However, it was the woman who greeted her - upon noticing that she was new - who revealed in the course of the conversation that her parents were friends of more than 25 years of Karen and Sandy Baird.

To me, that is just God revealing Himself to Waverly that she is where God wants her to be right now in her life.  As a parent, that's exciting.

If you read this, please keep Waverly in your prayers.  While she's prepared for today for quite some time, it is still an awesome, new and empowering set of experiences for her.

I think she's up to it, but isn't that what a Dad is supposed to believe?  :-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday to Grow On ... and From; August 4, 2013

Today is Waverly's last Sunday to sing as part of our church's Praise Team before she heads off to college in Lynchburg, Virginia later this week.

As you can imagine, a flood of thoughts are racing through my mind as I make a best effort to contain my emotions this morning.

I think anybody that reads this and knows me - even a little - has gotten an understanding by now of how proud I am - as well as her entire families - of Waverly.  Yet she will tell you herself that she is thankful that I don't overdo it in communicating it with the world.

She is a delightful, pleasant, thoughtful, educated, talented and beautiful young woman that many people are inspired by and drawn to.

As a parent, that is what you hope for in a child.  Not that they are well-liked and well-loved, but that they are respected and admired for who they are - not necessarily the things that they do.

I saw a friend last Sunday at Houston's Intercontinental Airport, upon arriving back into town from vacation, and he asked, "How did you produce such a beautiful young woman?"  My only reply was, "God!"

As much as I have a hard time accepting praise for the things that I do well, I'm even more challenged in actively taking credit for things.

Of course, I've had a lot of people give me credit - as well as her Mom - for doing a good job in parenting Waverly, but I guess I just view that as something that we're supposed to do.

We're never going to be perfect as parents.  I'm sure that I've made mistakes with her, but the fact that we have an incredible line of communication makes me think that if I have she has forgiven me for them.

On the Fourth of July, Waverly and I were invited by some very good friends of ours to go to a beach house on Jamaica Beach with them that was owned by a junior high classmate of one of them.

In the short six to seven hours that we were there, and as we were getting ready to leave, the wife who owned the beach house told me, "You did a good job in raising Waverly."  One can think that any young person can act well for that short period of time, but if you know Waverly - even a little - you know that it isn't an act at all.

It is those instances where I'm just in awe of who she has become.

Yet at the same time, I'm careful not to try and project what she will become in the future.  I firmly believe that only God knows that.  Therefore, I choose my language carefully when discussing her future - or mine, for that matter.

Absolutely, I would be very proud if she earns her degree and teaching certificate at Liberty University, but I also understand - as a believer - that God may have other plans for her down the road.

I simply think that I understand what her potential is and that I just try to be cognizant of where opportunities may arise for her to be able to reach that potential.

Her Mom and I both have been spending the last 18 years preparing her for what will be a major change in the next four months as she begins her first semester at Liberty.

I'm confident that she'll be successful and that she'll grow, learn and get a better grasp each and every day where she believes God's perfect will is in her life.

On Friday, we went to open up a checking and a savings account for her at a bank that is local to both here and Lynchburg.  Of course, I placed money in there, but it is now where she has the money that she earned from working and some that she was given as graduation and birthday gifts this past May and June.

When we got back to the house, she wanted me to make sure that I showed her how to balance and keep track of what was in the accounts.  Of course I would, but as I told her, I've been guilty of just believing that it would be something that she would easily be able to handle.

I guess that is the kind of confidence that I have in her.

As she sings a special in church today, something that I requested of our church's music director before they left to go on their missions trip to Kenya and Tanzania in June, I think there are three specific memories - aside from her accepting Christ as her personal Savior at youth camp five years ago - that I will remember.

1.)  Sitting in the pew and quietfully and carefully having the conversation with her about starting to go to Sunday School on a regular basis in the Junior High department.  She's much like her Dad in that she's pretty shy until you get to know her well.  Having known that, I didn't "hard sell" it to her, but I knew the type of leadership that we have in our church for our youth.  (Her junior high teachers were mine as well!)

2.)  After a couple of years of being in Sunday School on a regular basis and having watched her grow in her faith and her singing ability, the same type of conversation in the pew took place about perhaps singing in our church's choir.  It took her about a month to warm up to the idea, and for a year she was a dependable member who was there for every practice and worked on her skills (as she was also taking choir in high school at Spring).

It is hard to think of it as a reward when other people leave one church over something that takes place, but Waverly was given the opportunity by our former music director to be one of the three or four who sang in front of the choir during the worship service.  Not only did her confidence continue to soar, but she also embraced the responsibility and the understanding that there were many, many more eyes on her - watching to see that her walk was consistent with her talk.

3.)  The third memory is, well, I guess almost every week.

Yes, I remember her first solo in church and I'm thankful to say that I only missed one in person - because our Pastor wanted her to sing at the last minute when I was already scheduled to be away.  Yet because of technology, I was able to watch it having been recorded on her iPad by my oldest niece.

I have been more committed to be regular and consistent in my church attendance because I haven't wanted to miss too many opportunities to watch Waverly sing and serve God.  My eyes rarely leave her while she's on the platform singing.

And today she'll sing the current song  - #3 on the Christian music charts - by the group Sidewalk Prophets called, "Help Me Find It".

It is a powerful song about seeking God's will in our lives and I think that it is my hope and desire as a parent of a young believer is that she'll constantly live the chorus of this song:

If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will
Whatever Your will
Can you help me find it
Can you help me find it

A funny aside, through the tears in writing this, is that this is probably the first time in my life that I can tell you - and/or know of - most all of the songs in the top 20 of the Christian music charts as opposed to the Country music charts.

That seemed to change after we attended a Third Day concert during my trip with her to Liberty University this February.

Especially when life can get a little rough, it is better to be filling your head with uplifting, encouraging music then some or much of the others.

It is a big day for all of us, especially Waverly.

If you happen to take the time to read this, I know that Waverly would covet your prayers for her as she embarks on a major, new chapter of her life in the months and years to come.