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February 28, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

SNC00007 Our heads are spinning from the whirlwind trip to Colorado Springs to pick Taylor up from her YWAM base. Taylor returned to the states a week ago, but spent the past week debriefing. Wendy and I left Wednesday night after I returned from a speaking gig in Miami. We left Des Moines for Colorado about 10:30 p.m. and made it as far as Grand Island before I couldn't keep my peepers open any longer. We finished the drive on Thursday morning and arrived at Taylor's base mid-afternoon.

It was so good to see Taylor. Wendy and I took Taylor to Starbucks to see her pictures and do a little debriefing of our own. Taylor had a challenging, character building trip -   but I'll leave it to her to share more about that. On Thursday night there was graduation dinner for all the teams that YWAM sent out this term. It was great to meet all of the members of Taylor's team and to actually put a face with the names we've been hearing about for months.


Taylor was selected to share a bit about her team's trip during the graduation ceremony. She did a great job. It was interesting to hear stories from the teams that went to other countries, as well. Wendy and I were really tired by the time the graduation ceremony was over, so we headed to bed and let Taylor spend her final night on base with her friends.

DSCN0351 LR On Friday morning the three of us had breakfast with our friends, the Straits, and then hit the long road for home. We ran into snow around Grand Island and drove in a snowstorm through the rest of Nebraska and Iowa. We finally got ahead of it just west of Des Moines. We arrived home just before 11 p.m. and found Taylor's friends, Emily & Sophie, getting out of their car to post a "Welcome Home Taylor" sign on the house. Madison was anxiously waiting her sister's return, as well.

Taylor heads for Haiti on Tuesday to spend a few weeks with her fiance', Clayton.

Tom tay & wendy 2009 02 26

February 25, 2009

Miami - Des Moines - Colorado Springs...then back home

I'm on a whirlwind turn-around trip to Miami. I was up at 3:30 a.m. yesterday to catch a 6 a.m. plane and arrived yesterday mid-day. I'm doing a four-hour workshop this morning on "Building an Effective QA Program" and then jumping a flight home. When I get back to Des Moines, I'm jumping in the car with Wendy and we're heading to Colorado Springs to pick Taylor up. She has a graduation dinner Thursday night and then we're driving back home on Friday.

I'm not getting much sleep this week.

Chapter-a-Day Psalms 103

Paid in Full. He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. Psalm 103:10-12 (MSG)

I believe I can remember every spanking and major punishment I ever received as a child (and most of those my sister got). From the time I stole all my siblings money from Grandma Golly's Christmas tree to the time I was sent to my room for screaming "GD" when I got tagged playing Kick the Can and didn't see my dad standing there. I can remember the dressing down I got when I did a poor job cleaning out the dog kennel and can still taste the soap in my mouth as I sat on the bathroom sink and got my mouth washed out for using a bad word. And that's just the little shortcomings of childhood. The list gets longer the closer I get to recent memory. I have no illusions about my sinfulness. I know them better than anyone and I could provide you a long list.

If getting into heaven was based on a balance sheet of all my good deeds against all of my misdeeds and shortcomings, there's no way I would make it. I would be swimming in a pool of red ink as deep as the national deficit. That's what is so amazing to me about Jesus. He paid my debt. He died the death I deserve and took my sins with him on the cross. When I read that he separated my sins from me as far as the sunrise is from the sunset, I am so humbled. I am so grateful.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and catina jane

February 24, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 102

Yet you, GOD, are sovereign still, always and ever sovereign. Psalm 102:12 (MSG)

As a child, I remember coming to the realization that my tantrums and emotional protests had no effect on my parents. In fact, they really only served to harden my parents resolve while wearing me out entirely. I stopped wasting my energy and decided to just roll with it. The funny thing was, the less I protested the more my parents seemed to trust and respect me.

I see shades of myself in David's song this morning. He starts the song throwing an emotional tantrum but then stops short as he realizes and respects his eternal Father's sovereignty.

February 23, 2009

Weekend Recap

It felt like a strange weekend. Much of it because Wendy was gone most of the day on Saturday. She volunteered at the Pella High Show Choir invitational about a year ago. She had to be at the school at 6:30 a.m. Everyone who knows Wendy knows that she absolutely loooooooved that (not). Madison was working at the Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) weekend retreat, so she wasn't around. I ended up working around the house by myself on Saturday.

Sunday morning, Madison gave a talk to her peers at the retreat. Wendy and I picked up her friend, Meredith, and headed over to First Reformed to pray with Madison and listen to her talk. It brought back memories, as Taylor did a talk like this a year or two ago. Madison did a great job sharing what God had done in her life. We were really proud of her.

Wendy and I worked on the couch last night and watched the Academy Awards, which we enjoyed - though we haven't seen one of the movies nominated for best picture. Oh well.

Getting ready for a long week ahead. I speak at a call center conference in Miami on Wednesday. Wendy and I drive out to Colorado to pick up Taylor late in the week.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 101

Singin the blues. My theme song is God's love and justice, and I'm singing it right to you, God. I'm finding my way down the road of right living, but how long before you show up? Psalm 101:1-2a

I've been reading Psalm 101 and reading it over again for almost a half-hour. I've read it in different translations. Usually there's one or two phrases that pop off the page at me and prompt some thought. Today, the chapter seems to be no more than dried ink on the page. I don't know why. Is it me? Maybe I'm just not reading it right.

I finally pulled back and looked at the song as a whole. What was David driving at when he penned these lyrics? It was then that I realized Psalm 101 is a blues song. I hear the thumping, drawling rhythm of a blues band as David makes his case for all that he's doing right in life, but the crux of the song is his question, "how long before you show up?" David is an attorney pleading his case in the house of blues:

"If it please the court, look at all that I'm doing to do right. Why haven't you answered my prayer? Why do you feel absent from this situation? I don't get it!"

That is a feeling I know all to well. For the past few years I've been singing those blues every 28 days or so.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickrand Gary F. Garcia

February 20, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 100

A laugh offering. On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Psalm 100:1-2

I don't often think of my laughter as a gift. This opening lyric of Psalm 100 caught me off guard as I read it in the wee hours this morning. My next thought went immediately to the laughter of my own children. I can hear Taylor and Madison's uncontrollable laughter in my head. Their distinctive laughter brings a smile to my face. It warms my heart to hear the girls laugh.

Laughter is hard to come by along certain stretches of life's journey. There is no mystery to this. There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. But, there is a time to laugh. A child's laughter is as sweet to a father's ears as the most beautiful music.

I need a good laugh today.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Rachel R

February 19, 2009

Taylor's Back on U.S. Soil!

A quick update for those who are wondering. I received a call from Taylor this evening. She was at the Denver airport and happy to be back in the U.S. She said she was looking forward to making a Target run and then to Chipotle'. The entire team had decided they were going to Village Inn tomorrow morning for a good, old fashioned, American breakfast.

Taylor will spend the week debriefing at the YWAM base in Colorado Springs. Wendy and I are headed west next week for her graduation and to bring her home.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 99

Out to lunch. God rules. On your toes, everybody! He rules from his angel throne—take notice! Psalm 99:1 (MSG)

To be honest, sometimes I don't feel like God is ruling. Sometimes it feels like there's an "out to lunch" sign on the throne. I shake my head and wonder.

Then, I think about my own areas of influence. I think about being a father and head of my household. There are times that I know what my children desperately want me to do, but I consciously choose not to do what they want. There could be any number of reasons, but it usually involves them needing to learn a character lesson. As an employer and as an organizational leader I can see similar instances in which people press me for this or that. I love to be able to help people out and give them what they need, but often I have to decide what serves the greater interest of the person and the whole in the long run. God is no different, really, than any other leader.

Is God on His throne? Yes. Does He do what I want when I want it in the way I want it done? No.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickrand notanartist

February 18, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 98

Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders! Psalm 98:1 (MSG)

Our daughter, Taylor, is in Spain on her way back home from Morocco. After almost three months "in country" she was finally able to get on the internet and post some of her pictures on her Facebook page. Both of our daughters have developed a wonderfully artistic eye behind the camera and I sat enthralled as I went through the pictures. I was in wonder at the scenery, the people, and the way Taylor captured it through the lens of her camera.

I don't ever want to lose my sense of wonder. In a world that is moving ahead and break neck speed, I'm afraid that I get a bit overloaded and jaded at times. We get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of sights, sounds and information at our fingertips. In the midst of it all, I never want to lose the discipline of stopping to take in the beauty around me and gaze in wide wonder. When I see a beautiful painting, an interesting photograph or a particularly breathtaking sunset, I'm transported into worship of the God of Creation. My soul is refreshed. I'm suddenly grounded in the moment.

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