Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Four Unrelated Stories

Technically, two of the stories are closely related, as they involve Colin praying. And if you want to get even more technical, they are all related in that they are all things I have experienced. But on the surface of things, these are simply a few stories and musings from the past couple of weeks. I think I'll start with the two fairly related stories.

A little over a week ago, my dad was in town. Since there is not very much to do in The Cape (as my cousin-in-law likes to call it), we ventured to St. Louis to take the kids to the zoo. It was quite fun watching Colin get all excited about seeing the various animals, especially since he is now at an age where he can actually name many of them. While we walked through the African section, we saw many horned animals. Colin didn't recognize any of them, so he asked, "What's that?" quite frequently. My standard answer - because I didn't know much of the time - was, "It's a yak." I think I was the only one who was entertained by my response. Later that night, we were all pretty exhausted. As I was tucking Colin into bed, we prayed together as we do every night. I prayed and thanked God for all of the animals that He created that we saw that day, for the elephants, and the giraffes, and the tigers, and then Colin piped in with, "and the yaks!" That's right, Colin, and the yaks. Maybe I wasn't the only one paying attention to my responses.

This past Saturday, we took some of our students rock climbing at Giant City State Park in Makanda, IL. We had a gorgeous day, and 20 of our students participated in climbing any one of three different climbs and rappelling off of the 120 ft. cliff. After a while, some of the students started asking if I was going to climb. So I geared up knowing full well that this was not going to go well. I am in pretty miserable physical condition, and I know how weak I have allowed myself to get. The last time I rock climbed, it was on a man-made wall, and I made it about 2/3 of the way up the wall before I had to quit. This time would probably be worse. So I started up the medium climb. After a short time, one of our freshman girls blew past me on the difficult climb. Dang! But I kept going. From below, my belayer and Barry - one of our SIMYs who was also belaying - were shouting instructions up to me. All of the verbal encouragement in the world wouldn't have gotten me to the top, but the coaching was sure helping. Not too much later, another student caught up to me on the difficult climb. Dang! But he didn't pass me. I finally, after a really long time, made it to the top. WOO-HOO!!! I beat it! I seriously would have quit early on without the strong and informed coaching that I received from down below. I wondered later that day: How much better could I be doing in life in general if I had a 'coach'? A mentor who could walk me through the difficult times when I don't know where to turn next. Something to consider. (BTW, you can see pictures of our day at our Flickr site)

On Monday night, I was freezing at a soccer game at CHS. My phone rang around our normal dinnertime. Marcy was calling to tell me a story. Every night that I am home, we pray before eating dinner (or any meal, for that matter). Sometimes we let Colin pray, but usually have to help him. "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen!" He does a pretty good job with this prayer. This night, I was not there to pray with them, so as Marcy prayed for the meal, Colin indicated that he wanted to pray for Daddy (that's me). So Marcy told him to go ahead and pray for Daddy. This is what he prayed: "God is great, for Daddy. Amen!" That's my boy!

I received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago from our Executive Director telling me - and a couple of the other pastors - that we needed to plan on attending the Staff-Parish meeting scheduled for Oct. 28th (last night). We needed to prepare a report detailing our job responsibilities. This seemed odd, since they are the group hat controls our jobs; I figured they knew what we did. Well, I knew Marcy would be out of town (in Seattle visiting her sister and her new baby), so I inquired how long to expect to be in the meeting so I could get a babysitter. I was told that I could go ahead and bring Colin to the meeting. Again, this seemed odd, to bring your child to a Staff-Parish meeting, but whatever. So after dinner at Culver's, Colin and I headed up to the church. One of our former students was there, so she volunteered to watch Colin while I had my meeting. I went in along with the other pastors. After a prayer, the head of the committee informed us that it was Pastor Appreciation Month, and that they had gifts for us. They brought in a duffel bag for each of us that represented our favorite teams: the Browns for me, the Pacers for another, the Sooners for another, the Seminoles for yet another, and the Cardinals for our senior pastor. It was explained to us that the small groups in the church had all gone together to shower us with appreciation. Inside my bag, I found a huge stack of cards from all sorts of people at the church, some of whom I know, some not so much. Also inside was some men's skin care products and a candle from Bed, Bath & Beyond, a t-shirt from Steve & Barry's, and numerous gift cards from Barnes & Noble, Outback, Panera, and Mollie's, just to name a few. WOW! I'm not sure that I have ever felt more appreciated in my life! Needless to say, I went to bed on cloud nine. Thanks, people of La Croix! It's good to serve with you..

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