Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why Fall (aka Autumn) is My Favorite Time of Year

Recently I was asked what my favorite season is. Below are some "haphazard, off-the-cuff" reasons the time from late-September thru late-December is my choice (in no order):

  • Two words: football (especially when some of the northern games start having snow)
  • I love leaves changing colors...where I grew up (Houston) this doesn't happen as much, but in N. Texas it at least happens a bit more, and it's great. So beautiful.
  • My favorite "weather day" is partly cloudy (maybe even a bit overcast at times, but still "bright"), breezy, 40s in the morning and upper 50s and 60s in the day. Clear, cool nights where a fire can be burned.
  • I love how the weekly cool/cold fronts start coming down late-Sept., and how the first "real one" knocks high temps into the 70s...and how everyone acts like it's freezing suddenly (sweatshirts, etc.). Ironic thing is within two months, 70s are "hot".
  • My favorite month in general is in the fall: November. Weather is all over the place: sometimes still warm (but not hot), occasional storms, leaves blowing, and even the shot of the true "cold blast", with wintry precip a chance. Nov. also has my fave holiday: Thanksgiving. In addition to the best average weather guarantee of any holiday (to me at least), I love the food, being with family, the football games all weekend, and I also get to usually see my old friends from home. Oh, and as long as Aaron (best childhood friend) is in town, PUNTBALL (I'll explain that sport we created soon). And best of all about Thanksgiving to me? The stress of "Christmas time" doesn't seem to exist (I love Christmas, too, but for some reason that is often a stressful time...lots of travel, making sure everyone is "seen", parties to plan, etc.). Turkey Day still retains at least some "laid-backness", even though tons of folks are around.
  • Baseball Playoffs. I do enjoy baseball, but I love the playoffs. I enjoy few things more than getting home on a cool night, letting the breezes flow through our house (windows open, of course), eating dinner, and watching postseason, INTENSE baseball. I don't even care who the teams are.
  • I love going to the Castles' (my in-laws) house in the fall. Jeannetta decorates a ton, it has a GREAT yard (trees, etc.). I love raking big piles of leaves (due to the trees) and letting Jax go crazy in them. Also, one of my fave things to do with Dennis is go in the garage while he's "tinkering around" (and the door is always open), wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and watching/talking college football (there is a TV out there).
  • I get to wear "my uniform" in comfort: jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt. If it's cool enough, I can even wear one of my beanies...
  • Daylight Savings Time Ends. For some strange reason, I like it being dark at dinner time...
  • I get to start watching the Charlie Brown Specials (either on TV or DVD), with no reprocussions. I just love those...and so does Jax. Something about the song "Linus and Lucy" makes my heart smile...reminds me of the innocence of childhood. In fact, if nailed down to truly find the song to represent "me", it would be "Linus and Lucy" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.
  • Halloween is fun again since I have a child now. Plus, one of the great things about Weatherford is a GREAT trick-or-treating street called Lee that is wide, on a slope, with old homes and big porches that get all decorated...HUNDREDS of families out in a safe environment. Whenever we decide to leave Weatherford, that night and street may be one thing I will truly miss.
  • Fall colors/decorations. Pumpkins. red/brown/orange/yellows everywhere (I love earthy colors). Candles that smell great (one of my favorite smells is "spice", like pumpkin spice).
  • You get to start some of the "Christmas Stuff" before the season gets too crazy. Lights, trees, other great smells (another favorite is "pine/christmas tree"). And I LOVE going to places like Garden Ridge Pottery and just walking around the Christmas section (or other stores with huge holiday sections).
  • MLS Cup in November (hopefully either FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, or BOTH are in it this year!)

That's all I can think of for now...but I am READY for fall! It's just too warm cold fronts: COME ON DOWN!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Generation Hope Seminar Report

This saturday we hosted Mark Matlock of WisdomWorks Ministries ( for the Generation Hope parent seminar. It was such a valuable thing. There were plenty of parents from our church who missed out, but still a decent group was present.

In a nutshell, Mark challenged parents to honestly look at themselves to see if their attitudes and "parenting style" are either fostering or hindering the spiritual growth of our kids. He offered many practical tips, ideas, and I'm sure that several of us there (I know Missy and I will, at least) certainly left feeling renewed to answer God's call to be the primary spiritual example and guides for our kids.

I highly recommend looking into attending a Generation Hope seminar near you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Forget MySpace...Facebook is Better! (and a fun story from Sunday)

Yeah, I got a Facebook account. You can blame Jason Howeth, a guy who was in the Chapelwood youth ministry while I was there, for convincing me to join up. It's kinda fun, although thankfully the "traffic" is starting to slow (for about a day I seemed to get an email every 5 min from some old friend or youth that I had lost touch with...but found out I was now on Facebook). It's been fun, but for awhile not much "work" was done...

That brings up my fun story from Sunday: So we're in Sunday School, and I've just begun the actual lesson (after announcements, etc.), and this tall guy walks in. I catch him out of the corner of my eye, assuming it's a visitor and I prepare to welcome him. He just stops and stares at me...and I realize, it's Jason Howeth. Now, you need to know that Jason was "that kid" my first two years at Chapelwood UMC: you know, the one you wanted to "punt" about every five minutes. I was able to see him grow in his faith, though, and when I left, even though he wasn't in the jr. high ministry I was overseeing, you could see the positive changes, the growing up, etc. In fact, I've often used Howeth as an example to my current gang of teens I shepherd as proof that God can work on "that kid"...and all ends up well! Jason spent much of Sunday catching up with Missy and I, getting to know Jax, etc. good times.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What is "Family Ministry"?

This is something I have been working on (and still developing) that I thought I'd share... I realize some of these thoughts exist in an earlier post, but this is more "hashed out".

What is “Family Ministry”?

This is a question that is perplexing many in the Christian world these days.

Often, it is really just traditional “children’s ministry”, with activities for young children, mother’s day-out programs, and occasional family outings. In fact, in viewing many church websites, their children’s ministry is actually labeled as “family ministry”. But I don’t think that is the answer to my question. That isn’t family ministry, but just an aspect of it.

Many times, parents who label themselves as Christian have not truly made proactive decisions to truly live their family lives in a holistic, Jesus-following manner. They have compartmentalized their lives (i.e., different “rules” of living based upon areas of life, like work, sports, certain friends, etc.) and any attempts to integrate faith into the family dynamic seem to be weak attempts at best (such as dropping children off at “church activities”, and assuming that’s enough). In the past, that may have been “enough” as far as parents’ attitudes were concerned, but I think that time is at an end. Increasingly, both in research I’ve seen and informal conversations with parents of my generation (born in the 1970s and later), the desire is present to integrate faith into one’s whole being, not just church things. This carries over into one’s marriage and raising of children as well. And now is the time to truly seek God’s wisdom on how to make the most of this desire, and not squander it.

What might true family ministry look like? There is certainly no formula, but some aspects could include:

· Embracing the entire family organism, not just children, youth, or adult specific. Any family ministry should seek to encourage parents to truly embrace their God-ordained role as the primary spiritual guides within the family.
· Working with other ministries (all life stages involving the family unit) to encourage opportunities that strengthen the family dynamic, not tear it apart further. Essentially, evaluate existing programs to see if any cause undue stress on the family (financially, temporally, relationally, spiritually) and make suggestions where necessary.

· Provide arenas for parents to discover, encourage, and strengthen:
· Ways to disciple each other and their children
· Marriage enrichment;
· Education about current and future trends that may be embraced (or warned about);
· The importance of living a holistic life of faith.
· Offer counseling (or have reputable referral contacts available).
· Schedule regular retreats, workshops, conferences, etc., to assist in achieving goals.
· Have parent-specific small groups where parents can gather to become stronger disciples, discuss issues, share ideas, thoughts, and encouragement, and to foster accountability
· Parent mentoring made available, possibly in connection with small groups (mentioned above).

Many challenges form the holy scriptures exist, but two that could be used as both encouragements and goals can be found in Colossians 3:19-21 (19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged
.---NIV) and Ephesians 6:1-3 (1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”).
If we can truly embrace these godly challenges, the change would be amazing. Our greatest witness is our lives, and we need to do all we can to encourage families to be the standard bearers. Healthy, Spirit-led families who are proactive in their lives of faith would certainly be used by God to show his power, might, and love to all around us.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

NCAA Div. 1-A FB Dice Game, Week 2 Rankings

Some changes this week...I made sure to get results done before games started.

2007 NCAA Division 1-A DG Football Poll (Wk 2)

Rank Team (PR) Record Last Wk
1. USC (6) 1-0 1
2. Texas (6) 2-0 2
3. Wisconsin (6) 2-0 4
4. West Virginia (6) 2-0 5
5. Florida (6) 2-0 6
6. Oklahoma (6) 2-0 7
7. Michigan (6) 2-0 8
8. Virginia Tech (6) 2-0 9
9. Rutgers (6) 2-0 10
10. California (6) 2-0 11
11. Ohio State (6) 2-0 12
12. Louisville (6) 2-0 13
13. Penn State (6) 2-0 16
14. Nebraska (6) 2-0 17
15. Hawaii (6) 2-0 18
16. LSU (6) 1-1 3
17. UCLA (6) 1-1 14
18. Georgia (6) 1-1 15
19. Georgia Tech (6) 1-1 19
20. Auburn (5) 2-0 20
21. Oregon State (5) 2-0 21
22. Texas A&M (5) 2-0 22
23. Boston College (5) 2-0 25
24. Missouri (5) 2-0 NR
25. Alabama (5) 2-0 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Iowa (5) 2-0, Arkansas (5) 1-0, Boise State (5) 2-0, BYU (5) 2-0, South Carolina (5) 2-0, Miami (FL) (5) 1-1, TCU (5) 1-1, South Florida (5) 1-1, Notre Dame (5) 1-1, Tennessee (5) 1-1, Florida State (5) 1-1, Oklahoma State (5) 1-1, Clemson (4) 2-0, Maryland (4) 2-0, Virginia (4) 2-0), Kentucky (4) 2-0, Purdue (4) 2-0, Pittsburgh (4) 2-0, Central Michigan (4) 2-0

Upsets: Western Michigan over Indiana, Colorado over Arizona St., BYU over UCLA, South Carolina over Georgia, Cal Poly over Idaho

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

NCAA Div. 1-A Dice Game, Week One Rankings

2007 NCAA Division 1-A DG Football Poll (Wk 1)

Rank Team (PR) Record Last Wk (Pre-Season)
1. USC (6) 1-0 1
2. Texas (6) 1-0 2
3. LSU (6) 1-0 3
4. Wisconsin (6) 1-0 4
5. West Virginia (6) 1-0 5
6. Florida (6) 1-0 6
7. Oklahoma (6) 1-0 7
8. Michigan (6) 1-0 8
9. Virginia Tech (6) 1-0 9
10. Rutgers (6) 1-0 10
11. California (6) 1-0 11
12. Ohio State (6) 1-0 12
13. Louisville (6) 1-0 13
14. UCLA (6) 1-0 15
15. Georgia (6) 1-0 16
16. Penn State (6) 1-0 17
17. Nebraska (6) 1-0 18
18. Hawaii (6) 1-0 19
19. Georgia Tech (6) 0-1 14
20. Auburn (5) 1-0 21
21. Oregon State (5) 1-0 22
22. Texas A&M (5) 1-0 23
23. Miami (FL) (5) 1-0 24
24. TCU (5) 1-0 25
25. Boston College (5) 1-0 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Missouri (5) 1-0, Alabama (5) 1-0, South Florida (5) 1-0, Iowa (5) 1-0, Arkansas (5) 1-0, Boise State (5) 1-0, BYU (5) 1-0, Notre Dame (5) 1-0, South Carolina (5) 1-0, Tennessee (5) 0-1, Florida State (5) 0-1, Oklahoma State (5) 0-1, Wake Forest (5) 0-1, Arizona (5) 0-1


Well, I forgot to publish my first week of "NCAA Div. 1-A Dice Game Results" prior to games actually happening...i'll try to get them out today.

Also, Went to Kerrville for the long weekend (even took Sunday off...those are rare!). Nice and relaxing. Read a good book. Smiled alot watching Jax interact with BOTH sets of grandparents...