Today we started loading the truck around 8:45 am and finished up around 5:45 pm. For the better part of the day it was the two Michael's and myself. Which was possible because Kelly watched the girls while all of this was going on. Not to mention a huge help from Jennica and Chris M. At about 3:20 pm my old friend Phud brought in some reinforcements. He along with about five students from his youth group and Lindsey came and finished off the load out. Thanks to my friend Jose we are pulling a trailer with all our "garage" stuff along with the UHAUL truck. After emptying the house Anita, the girls, my father-in-law, the "kids" and I all came over to the hotel to enjoy a few moments of fun and relaxation before we all said goodbye. We're at a hotel tonight because we shut down the gas at the house and I'm a big fan of hot showers. Erin offered to host us but little Luke needs some recoup time. Thanks though Erin, really. I can't tell you how much it meant to have some people around us willing to do whatever they are asked to help. Tonight I'm going to rest and tomorrow we're off to Charleston. Thank goodness we're not unloading until Sunday!
Sorry for the irregular posting lately. Life is a little crazy. We've got four days (including today) and counting until we're South Carolina residents once again. The house is full of boxes and Savannah Grace is starting to notice a lack of access to her belongings. We'll be packing up the truck on Friday but not moving into our house in Charleston until Sunday afternoon. On top of that, Wednesday Anita and I are headed to Arizona to visit with our friends Randy and Jennifer for a few days. So after moving in on Sunday, we'll be headed to meet up with my parents on Tuesday to drop the girls off, then back to Charlotte to fly out on Wednesday.
Last night we got to take a much welcomed break from the packing frenzy and we had dinner with my Notre Dame Mom (Mrs. Betty) and Mr. Dexter. This couple moved to Charlotte from South Bend, Indiana so I was naturally drawn to them (for anyone not making the connection, the University of Notre Dame is in South Bend, Indiana). In our very brief time here in Charlotte we built some strong relationships. I know everyone says, "let's stay in touch." But I honestly believe that many of these friendships will in fact continue. Thanks for the hospitality, friendship and love Mrs. Betty (I know you're reading this).
Time to get back to work. By the way, (warning: shameless request inbound) we could use your help if you're in the area on Friday. I'm sure we'll be packing the truck for the better part of the day. So let me know if you'll be around.
Today I played with my daughters in at a water park. We had an incredible time. I got very sunburned. The only fear we had to manage was whether or not my oldest daughter would stop and go to the restroom and if my youngest daughter would freak out when it was time to leave. We enjoyed the weather; we enjoyed our family; we enjoyed our freedom.
There is one aspect of my family that I have been enormously proud of even as a child. My Grandfather served as a sailor in World War II. I took the Purple Heart he was awarded for his service at Normandy to show and tell in elementary school. I have his uniform in my closet. He was a great and selfless man. My father served in our country's military. I used to wear his hats and pretend to be a military man. As best as I can figure, I am the first male in our family line who hasn't served in the military. God has a different plan for me. I however catch myself from time to time questioning myself and my willingness to serve our country. I wonder if I was just afraid of the cost. I wonder if I just ran away from such a demanding role.
I am so grateful for the men and women that serve our country and our God faithfully. Today as I enjoyed the freedom each of them provide I am reminded of the families who have made the ultimate sacrifice for me. To each of our military families I say thank you. Thank you for having the greatest love that has ever existed and will ever exist for our country, our freedom, my family, our God, and for me.
This is my family. Today we're pretty relaxed. Yesterday we drove to Charleston, payed our property taxes on our vehicles, registered our vehicles in South Carolina, signed our new lease, and filled out my paperwork for the new job. Today is a much better day than yesterday.
We're spending some time with our extended family from Florida at the beach. Next weekend about this time, we will be moving and I will be unbelievably stressed out. Enjoy the smiles for now.
Despite waking up with slim to no motivation to work on getting ready for the move, I headed out to the patio and garage to get started. I decided that if I work on clearing all the patio furniture and yard toys it might be fun. There's something in guys that we just enjoy taking stuff apart. I think it's because we don't usually need directions to do it.
After getting the patio table torn down I went to work on the girl's picnic table and the little slide/swing toy. I'm not sure how water gets into toys like these but it does…in large amounts. The kicker is that the water doesn't come out very easily. Even if you decide to slice holes in the bottom of the table the unbelievably nasty brown water slowly seeps out but of course not all of it. As Savannah Grace watched the water come out she gave me a commentary.
Her: "Look daddy, the table's going potty."
Me: "It's just water honey."
Her: "No Daddy, its yucky potty. Haha, the table's going potty. Don't get it on you Daddy."
After the table I went to work on the slide/swing toy. This turned out to be an easy enough task that freaked me out. Maybe it's just me but I don't like finding old, dead spider nests inside my children's toys. It got me thinking though.
These little bugs get into stuff because toys are usually set up and left alone. I don't know a lot of parents that do regular checks on the inside of outdoor toys. The spiritual reflection to this is in my life is self discipline. There are areas of my heart that I don't work on very much. I believe that the enemy looks for this type of spiritual laziness to get a foothold to work against us. I need to set up regular checks to make sure I'm leaving any areas of my life dormant or vulnerable. For me those checks are mentors, coworkers, friends, my wife and my children. Often times my reactions at home are an indication of my mental and emotional health which reflects my spiritual health as well.
I wish I had some creative way to tie in the "potty" part of this story but I guess I'm out of practice. Any wordsmiths or story crafters out there that can connect my daughter's observations to a spiritual teaching? Let us know or just make us laugh.
One of my heroes is going through possibly the most difficult times in his life. Please pray for Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. Specifically pray for his son. Here is the story. Please spend time praying for peace and grace on their behalf.
I've had the privilege of preaching (teaching, speaking or whatever you may call it) twice this week. Sunday evening I spoke at a nearby church to a group of volunteers. I was asked to do some visioncasting for some new initiatives they are undertaking to improve their effectiveness and excellence. It was a little different to do visioncasting for a group of people I've never worked with and probably never will but they seemed to be receptive to what I had to say.
This morning I spoke at a local High School for First Priority. This is the second time I've had the chance to speak there. The reason I bring it up isn't to give you an update on my speaking schedule; it's to tell you about something different I saw. I was asked to speak by a young man named Josh who is leading the First Priority group at his school. There is something different about Josh. You know it as soon as you meet him. There's a humility about him that makes you want to befriend him. I don't know him very well but what I've observed impresses me. He leads the group almost from a sense of need. Not a need to lead, but because he recognizes the need for a group like this at his school and he is unwilling to let it go undone.
In our "Look at me" culture it's refreshing and challenging to see someone so young doing something for the sake of others. I'm proud of Josh; I know his parents are proud of him. Josh, thanks for being a great example for not only the students in your school but to me as well. Thank you for challenging me to be more like Christ.
Today I was up and ready to get some serious work done…and then I checked my email. It's amazing what stupid little letters put together can do to your heart. I've been through a lot. Most of which I will probably never share completely openly about. My family has been through even more. I say that because most of us will put up with a lot but it hurts more to watch someone we love go through difficult or unfair situations. I believe God has gotten glory, victory and honor through many of the situations I've experienced in life. I wish I could say that I've given Him glory in every situation but I suppose we all have to learn the hard way about maturity and self discipline. But I digress.
My entire attitude and disposition was changed by the words of a simple email. It wasn't a biting or rude email; it just pushed me from sadness about a situation to irritation and anger. Luckily I'm married to an amazing Godly woman. As I leaned over in thought, with my feelings on my face, Anita asked if I wanted to sit down a pray for a moment. I told her to get her nose out of the Bible and get used to real life. (totally kidding, just wanted to cause some of the women who read this to gasp. Sorry.) I of course said yes. We sat down and she prayed for me.
I wish I could tell you that the Spirit of God broke through and my heart was changed straight away. That wasn't the case but God did begin to break through my discouragement. A half hour or so and quite a few boxes packed later my attitude was different. I'm thankful for the progress God has made in my relationship with him and in my marriage that we try to immediately look for Him to change our attitudes instead trying to will ourselves to a better "state of mind" or push through it. So how do you like my boxes?
We have moved nine times since we graduated from college. That includes three moves during our first stint in Atlanta; one move to Tennessee for a summer; three different houses in Mullins, SC; the move back to Atlanta; and most recently our move to Charlotte. The tenth move only gives us a glimmer of hope of less moving. We’ll be renting a pretty nice house in North Charleston. We hope to buy a house again someday but we’re being careful not to rush into anything.
Moving that much has kept us living pretty light; not as light as I’d like but we have gotten rid of quite a lot. I don’t know if there is anything else I’ve ever done that makes me feel like more of a spoiled American than moving. We have boxes of stuff that we "just can’t throw away." The stuff in those boxes is only looked at or touched when you’re moving and you didn’t mark the box well enough. Each time I pack things away I think of this passage. I wish I had the guts to truly rely on God.
Over and over again God has shown His unexplainable grace and mercy to our family. I tell people in a somewhat joking manner that I am the luckiest or most blessed person alive. Most days I honestly think that’s true. I am not the next Billy Graham. I’m not even the next "Youth Group" Billy Graham. There’s not a whole lot that is extraordinary about me. I can hold my own in a lot of different areas but I’ve never been exceptional at anything. There’s no reason that God should continually bless me the way He has beside the fact that I am His child. I’m thankful that our "celebrity economy" (the more you have, the more you’re given) isn’t the way God’s economy works (you don’t deserve it so He loves you more.)
Today I’ll be going through those boxes and taping them up again. I’ll make new boxes for new "things." In writing this post today I’m hoping to keep those less fortunate on my mind as I pack up all the amazing things God has given me. Especially the three most important gifts. (No, I’m not packing them up! Geez)
After almost five whole days without a computer (thanks Kelly and Jennica for letting me bogart yours) we’re back in business. It’s been an interesting few days and I’ve been itching to get back into the blog routine. Look for some fun and thought provoking posts coming soon. Thanks for your patience.