Tag Archives: Family

Visiting Charleston, S.C. (Part 1)

Vacation (or Holiday, for you Brits)

Last week my family went on vacation. With the exception of Katie, the daughter who stayed home and watched the house and dogs (and used too much laundry soap), we all loaded up and drove to Charleston, South Carolina, to stay with our oldest daughter, Alicia, and her husband, Josh.

But it wasn’t just family. Roy and Esther Cavender (close friends from Hopkinsville, KY) also endured the long, 8-hour drive in our mini-van to Charleston. In case you’re counting, that’s four adults and one teenager in a single vehicle for the equivalent of a regular work day.

Have you ever gone on vacation with another family to another family’s house in a distant location? Let me clue you in to a fact of life – you’d better be REALLLLLY good friends.

Happily Married

One thing about going on vacation with people that are not in your immediate family is that you come to appreciate why you are married to whom. In other words, we all have differences which we can appreciate (Isn’t that “reyeght” Roy & Esther and Alicia & Josh?).

For example, my wife and I know how to get along (most of the time). We know what the other one likes and dislikes (most of the time); we know how certain situations make us feel (OK, I’m stretching it); and we know what is most likely to tick the other one off (Sure do!). That’s not the case with friends and family that don’t live under the same roof all the time. Vacationing can be a learning curve…with disputing GPS’s.

Staying in someone’s house, as opposed to a hotel, can save money and offer more time to spend together, but it sure has the potential for stress. Don’t get me wrong – we’d do it again! It’s just now that it’s all over, I like the way my wife and I do things. I’m pretty sure everyone else feels the same way.

We Had a Good Time

But even though there were some awkward and tense moments in and on the way to Charleston, we did have a fun and enriching time. We got to spend quality time with friends and family, meet new people, eat new foods, see new places, and experience the time away we so desperately needed. I even made a fish fly.

So, in the next few posts I will share my thoughts on some things I saw and did while in Charleston, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • photo 1 (6)The Confederate Museum
  • Shooting machine guns with my son-in-law
  • Going to the beach
  • Alligators in the back yard
  • Shopping
  • Visiting the Emanuel A.M.E. Church

Have I piqued your curiosity? Let me know if there’s something specific about which you’d like to hear.

I’ve got a lot of stories, it’s just a matter of narrowing them down to the magic 500 words or less, you know.

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Filed under Life Lessons, places, Relationships and Family, Vacation

How Am I Doing?

In a recent thread of comments on another site, the blog’s author ask me, “How are you doing?

My immediate inclination was to respond with one of the typical answers we usually give when somebody asks, “How are you doing?” I almost typed my grammatically-pleasing favorite, “I am doing well, thank you.” If I had been in the mood to be more colorful I could have answered with:

  • “Fine as frog hair!”
  • “Better than I deserve.”
  • “Nothing to complain about. If I did, it wouldn’t matter.”
  • “Unbelievable!” (which can be applied either way)
  • “As good as if God said it was so.” (I just made that one up)

But, when Anna (from Anna’s One Life) asked how I was doing, I replied with the following comment:

How am I doing? I have begun to have a hard time answering that nowadays. I mean, I could share my complaints, my worries, my fears, my struggles, and all of that, but how do they compare with what Christians are facing in Iraq and Pakistan? So, all things considered, I am doing stinking great! I mean, seriously, I’ve got bills that need to be paid, but the power is still on, the water is running, and no one has tried to shoot me or bomb my church while I was preaching. Life is good. I’m blessed more than I deserve.

Other than that, I hate that I can’t make myself complete a stupid self-imposed reading list! Why does life have to get in the way of reading? Can you answer that?

Seriously, God has been more than good to my family and me. If I complained it would be petty. My Savior deserves the praise.

And that’s about how I feel today.

I have my share of difficulties, just like anyone else. Looked at in their localized context, you might feel sorry for me. On the other hand, if my struggles were placed along side the trials of others, a tit-for-tat comparison might reveal that I literally have nothing about which to complain – NOTHING!

We should never belittle the little things; one person’s inconsequential inconvenience may be another person’s earth-shattering tragedy. However, “how we are doing” will really depend on how much of the “yoke” we’re still trying to pull on our own.

[Jesus said], come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

So, whether or not I am doing “fine,” or not, God be praised! He has blessed me with life, the love of family, a ministry, and the hope of heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.

How am I doing? Counting it all joy (James 1:2)!

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons

Honey Maid Fatalism?

Yesterday evening, just before I was about to head on over to the church, my wife saw a commercial on the television she had on while she was doing taxes for a client. She said, “Did you hear what that commercial just said?”

“No, what commercial?”

OK, before I go any further, before any of you get too judgmental, my wife is an accountant and this is income tax season – she barely has time for sleep and is doing tax work every available minute. Therefore, even up to 30 minutes before time to leave for evening services at church, my wife – the pastor’s wife – was still sitting in front of two computer screens and listening to a television for background noise. 

“There was a commercial from Honey Maid (they make graham crackers),” she said. “Here, I’ll just rewind it…watch this…”

Evidently this commercial is not new, but would anyone with any sense like to explain to me what I just watched? Does this not in any way concern any of you? What in the world does it mean when you say, “What makes us wholesome never will”?

Some of you (you know who you are) don’t understand why this commercial upsets me. After all, it’s only a reflection of the pagan, post-Christian culture in which we live, right? “It is what it is,” some might say, “so just move on.” But this commercial DOES anger me! As a matter of fact, it does more than anger me – in breaks my heart. Let me tell you why.

First, it condones divorce, even going so far as to making it a positive for the children involved. In the first few words we hear a father say how that he never thought he’s get a divorce, but now he sees it as just that many more people to love the kids. Really? That’s akin to stating, “Hey, divorce ain’t that bad, just look at how happy the kids are!”

Second, it promotes brokenness. Yes, I said it “promotes” it. Even though this commercial is linked to a larger advertising campaign, #NotBroken, that aspires to celebrate the diverse landscape of the modern family unit, it’s actually celebrating brokenness as an inherent virtue. There is nothing in this commercial that promotes wholeness, is there? There’s nothing in this commercial that calls for the support of intact, nuclear families, is there? No, only the celebration that families come in all shapes, sizes, colors, AND sexual orientations.

Third, it’s fatalistic and hopeless. The money quote from the commercial is, “What makes us wholesome never will.” In other words, whatever it was that we as a culture ever thought was normal and healthy, forget it – we will never be “wholesome,” for there is no such thing…except for Honey Maid crackers.

But, supposedly, this is our culture. Mondelez International senior marketing director Gary Osifchin said of their add campaign, “[W]e’re holding a mirror up to America and celebrating all-American families. We’re on a journey here where we are very much showing America who they are. … It’s reality.[Source] Maybe so, but it’s not by God’s design.

We’ve given up on promoting nuclear families; now we’re celebrating the pieces left over from a nuclear blast, and supposedly the kids are happier for it.

 

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Parenting, Relationships and Family, World View

Top 7 Reasons Why I’d Like to Go Back to Disney World

The following are seven reasons why I’d like to go back to Disney World in Orlando, Florida – tomorrow, if I could. Sure, there are other places I want to visit, but the following reasons are why I would like to go back to Disney, even if I could go other places, too.

This is NOT a commercial. Just random-though blogging.

If you know anyone with connections, give them my number.

7. Bragging Rights

Let’s face it, if you can afford to take your family to Disney World, you either know how to save or have more money than your neighbor. Seriously, have you priced Disney lately? If I went I would take my wife and daughters and stay in the park (which is the ONLY way to go). We’re talking between 4 and 5,000 dollars for a family of four!

6. It’s been too long.

The last time we went was in 2007. We went that year because I won the trip by winning a dance-off at a motivational seminar. Yes, I danced like an idiot in front of 5,000 people and got a standing ovation, destroying my competition. My wife said I’d never pastor a church in Chattanooga after that showing, but we got a trip to Disney and my performance never made it to YouTube – so there.

5. The atmosphere.

If you have never been to Disney, then you have no concept of quality control. If you have ever visited any other theme park or amusement park, once you set foot in Disney World you will immediately notice a difference: I call it “atmosphere control.”

Disney is all about image. Everything is kept in top-notch condition and service is wonderful. There is a purposeful, intentional striving toward maintaining a specific mood throughout the multiple parks. From the smells to the music to the people, everything is meant to illicit happiness and warmth. Is it sorta like brainwashing and mind control? Maybe, but it works – and it takes your mind off of the real, chaotic world.

4. The “rides.”

Anyone, young and old, can have fun at Disney World. There is so much to see and do, especially when it comes to the rides.

Now, when I say “rides,” don’t automatically assume I’m referring to roller coasters and such. The rides at Disney are so much more than that – sooooo much more. For instance, in the Animal Kingdom (one of the massive parks at Disney) one of the rides involves loading up into a real truck and going on a real safari! I’m not talking about some cheesy vehicle attached to a rail transporting you around a zoo. Honestly, the last time we were there, our truck had to slow down, even pause, as a real giraffe decided to take its time walking in our path!

Other rides include Soaring, which will make you swear you are really flying in a hang glider over an orange grove in California; the Hollywood Tower of Terror, which will make you believe you are in the Twilight Zone – for real; and a space ship simulator that comes with real air-sickness bags – because it’s that realistic!

Below is a link I found with the video of what is shown inside the Mission Mars ride. Believe me, it is totally intense. This ride is built on a centrifuge that can go from 0-4 g’s in 2 seconds! THAT’S why it’s so realistic! And all the while you are inside what looks and feels like a real space ship capsule. AWESOME!

3. EPCOT

My favorite place to visit in Disney World is the World Showcase in EPCOT. If you never visited another country, or if you’d like to pretend you’ve visited 10 of them in a day, then the World Showcase is for you. For example, walk into a Mexican pyramid and you will be transported to a star-lit courtyard in a small, Mexican village. There you will find shops, a restaurant, vendors, and street musicians playing songs about cockroaches and big hats. Or, if you would like to visit China, there you would be surrounded by color, flowers, and unbelievable acrobats.

Each “country” in the World Showcase is staffed by people from that country. If you go to Italy and want to eat at the restaurant, then real Italians are going to serve you. The same goes with Morocco, France, Canada, England, Germany, etc. When we ate in England, the Beatles were playing across the street as I tried to understand my waitress – I asked her, “I know you’re English, but can you speak English?”

2. The resorts.

No joke, if you ever get a chance to go to Disney, stay in one of their resorts on-site AND get the “meal plan.”

I am not exaggerating when I say that you could spend your entire trip to Disney just visiting the resorts and hotels on the property. Each one has a different theme, its own attractions, and get this – when you stay in one, you can visit them ALL! Also, unlimited transportation to and from the park, and all the resorts, is INCLUDED!

And when it comes to the food, oh my gosh! You will never regret purchasing a meal plan. Trust me on this one. Without it you’d have to be double rich to purchase separately what is included in the plan. And believe me, you don’t want to miss out on being able to order whatever you want off the menu in places like the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom.

1. I need a vacation. Really.

I am tired of hearing about ISIS, Ebola, elections, and healthcare. I need a dose of non-reality. I need an imagination fix. I want to feel like a little kid again, if only for a week.

Anyone else want to go?

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Filed under General Observations

A Prayer For My Daughter At College

The Text

Yesterday I got a text from my daughter who attends Bryan College in Dayton, TN. She spoke of how stressed she was, of how little sleep she was getting, and how she misses the simpler life at home.

She sent a picture to me. It was a picture of the back of her left hand. On it was a reminder written with a Sharpie. She said:

Katies HandI’m killing myself trying to remember everything. I went to bed with this on my hand. Then I got it on my blue sheets and my face. But at least I made it to class this week.

Later she wrote:

“My emotions are going haywire…because I am so stressed. Yet, at the same time I don’t feel stresses in some areas…And those are the areas I leave out…”

I responded with:

“I haven’t been praying for you like I should. I’m sorry. But I will.”

The Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the mercies you have shown to my family and me. Thank you for my family, including the opportunities you have given us. In this case, thank you for providing the place and the means for Katie to go to school. Thank you for the opportunity she has at Bryan College.

Now Lord, I have been to school and have gotten my degrees, but I have never walked in my daughter’s shoes (they’d hurt). Her emotions are different. Her dreams are different. Her likes and dislikes are different. But one thing I do know is that she loves you with all her heart and wants to honor you with her success. Please help her to do that.

Lord, I am her earthly father, but you are her “Daddy God,” her “Abba.” You opened the door for her to go to Bryan. You provided the scholarships to pay for the tuition we could not afford. You gave her the gifts to sing and play music. All I did was watch over her and instruct her in Your ways while she was under my roof. Now she is completely in Your hands. Watch over her and grow her into the godly, intelligent woman you want her to be – for Your name’s sake.

Katie is stressed out, but doing her best. She wants to be the model of integrity and honor, but some other students are making it difficult. Give her the strength to stand strong on her principles and counsel her with your Spirit when she’s confused or questioning what to do.

Father, you are the One who gives peace. Your Son is the Prince of Peace. As Katie has willfully taken your yoke upon her, make her burdens light as You pull along side her. Give rest for her soul and mind. Reassure her with the peace that all things work together for the good, to them that love you and are called according to Your purpose.

And dear Lord, help her to keep things straight in her head, or in a datebook, or on her phone, or whatever. Waking up with permanent marker on her face before class can’t be helping with the stress level.

In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

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Filed under Faith, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

6 Ways You May be Raising Your Kids With an Oversimplified Faith (Re-blogged)

Important!

Every once in a while I lay aside my own thoughts and substitute them with the thoughts of those more brillianter than me, such as Natasha Crain at ChristianMomThoughts.com.

This morning I had planned to write about the new atheist churches (Sunday gatherings) popping up around the country. I was going to share some observations meant to encourage you to go to a real church, especially if you are a believer (if atheists believe gathering together in “community” is important to combat the effects of loneliness, why do Christians think they can “forsake the assembling” of themselves?).

But instead of writing a post about what was on my mind, I am going to share a post that  – well, the idea has been on my mind for a while, but this beautifully sums it up. This is a VERY IMPORTANT post!

Please, especially if you are a parent, pastor, or youth leader, READ THIS! (click on the picture)

oversimplifiedfaith

 

Now, after reading what Natasha Crain wrote, what are we going to do about it?

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Filed under Apologetics, blogging, Culture Wars, Faith, Parenting, Relationships and Family, Theology, World View

Still Awake

It’s 1:30 a.m., my wife is out of town, and this is how I feel.

“Still Awake”

The dog is asleep under his blanket

The crickets are playing their third song

The rhythmic ticking from the cheap kitchen clock

Keeps time as I muddle along

With my typing, spacing, deleting

Of words that seem right, then wrong

It’s late, but I’m doing my best to take stock

Of the reasons I’ve been awake so long.

It’s not so hard when I leave her at home

I guess I tend to focus on the task when I’m gone

But when she leaves I feel disconnectedphoto (28)

There are things to do, but I feel misdirected

I need her more than she needs me

I don’t want to go to bed, it’s hard to sleep

The hotel bed is not her spot

The bed at home is where she’s not

I don’t want to roll over and…well… fear

I just like it better when she’s here.

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Filed under General Observations, Relationships and Family