Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Instantaneous joy. More love than any one person could adequately articulate. We are blessed with another little person to love ... humbled at the intricacies of God's creation. More pictures to come when we get home from the hospital. To sign up for our e-newsletter, click here
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This post won't be long -- but enough to say that we can't wait to meet Matthew Luke Dean.
I remember driving to Atlanta 9 months ago, when April told me -- she was pregnant. Wow.
Hard to believe he's here. More info, pictures, and stories to come. In the meantime, we are getting last minute things ready, and are more than excited.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Tonight we got to hang out with old friends. Robin - thanks for the great dinner! The boys obviously loved it all. Katie and Biscuet - it's always good to be around you both. At this point, the boys are asleep, I just painted April's toenails (yeah, I said that) and we are watching the Olympics / CNN... and April's stomach as Luke flips around in there.
Friday, August 22, 2008
First times are always interesting in a new room with new people, but tonight was incredible. What a great opportunity to aim our hearts towards God, and remember our souls are restless until they find their rest in Him. Thanks to Jason Morant and Daniel Bashta for leading us so well last night. The GraceCampus staff and volunteers did an outstanding job serving the students.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Two hours from now, I'll be in the ballroom of the new student center where we anticipate to see hundreds (or more) to assemble for encounter. I can't wait. Not so much because of how many people will be there, but because He will be there. Being a part of encounter has been such a rhythm of grace in my life. For seven years now, I have experienced the power and presence of God, as we humbly seek to lead a small part of this generation in knowing Jesus. So much preparation, planning, thinking, dreaming, stressing (when we are not praying), praying, and work from our team goes into this weekly event, and I am so thankful for our staff team and volunteers.
I just needed to say that, before I walk into the room to see their creativity and hard work. Because of their dedication, it has allowed me to be focused on my unique role and walk in prepared to lead in spirit and in truth.
And -- April gets to be there tonight. My parents (who are awesome) so often drive up and keep the boys so she can still be a part of this. Tonight, I plan on sharing the basic idea that our souls are restless until they find their rest in Him. Colossians 1:15-17 is our anchor text for tonight. Can't wait. More later.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Normally on wednesdays, I am locked away somewhere preparing for encounter, but today was different. Not having taught/spoken in my normal environment in nearly 4 months, I have about 100 sermons brewing in my head, and with April being in "pre-labor" everything seems tentative. So, flexibility is the name of the game. Today, while meditating on Colossians 1:15-17 which is what I plan on speaking from tomorrow night, I built a "castle" out of cardboard boxes and took the boys to the dentist, while my sweet swollen wife did her best to just hang in there...the whole time, I have been reminded that He alone holds all things together. Baby Luke -- we are ready for you to be with us in the outside world.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I have lots of thoughts, but the most important ones right now are honest words about how grateful we are for our family and friends. Yep. Things are a wee-bit-hectic, with the impending baby arrival, encounter starting in a new (and slightly challenging) venue in three days, unpacking our new home, and doing our best to love the two little men already in our lives, and be nice to each other as well. The thing is -- we couldn't really do any of that, and certainly not well, if it weren't for our parents, our staff team, and our friends. We haven't felt this loved and cared for in a long time -- and it's humbling. Today, at our weekly staff prayer time - I reached the end, of a rope I've consistently found the end of, and once again, I found the all-sufficient one: Jesus.
End of me = More of Jesus.
As we all prayed together, some face down, many with tears in our eyes, I realized over the past month, how tempted I can be to do stuff on my own --- all the while, there are people who genuinely care for us. Isn't it easier to care for others sometimes? It's really humbling to have people bring dinner, wash my feet, take on some of "my" responsibilities at work, to have guys spend a weekend helping me move boxes and furniture, or see our moms spend all days unpacking things for us.
A few minutes ago, April and I ate some Haagan Dazs coffee ice cream... brought to us, by one of many sweet friends who are bringing dinner this week. Thanks to each of you. It's a beautiful picture of belonging to the body of Christ.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
She doesn't know I am writing this right now, but across the room from me is my best friend, rather tired and very pregnant. We are watching the Olympics. This morning she sat in the doctors office for more than an hour... because they forgot she was in the room. When the doctor realized the mistake, she quickly measured her abdomen and checked Luke's heartbeat... and that was it. Yikes -- I would have been livid and less than nice -- an hour of pointless discomfort in a chair (see photo I took last time I was with her) for less than two minutes of care.
What do you do?
Proverbs 31 mentions how "she has the full confidence of her husband" -- These days, I have been so impressed by her perspective on life, her willingness to embrace God's calling on her life and ours, and how despite her roly-poly-my-hips-are-hurting-body -- she is driven to be the best little mommy she can be. Yep, I like her a lot.
Today was the first day with our new staff team for the year. I have to say it was one of the most meaningful moments of ministry I have experienced in a really long time. It is so powerful to see when our team, all after the same One, all humble and teachable, are fully engaged in our mission to reach Auburn's campus and in some small way, touch the world.
From 8:30-1:00 today, we looked strategically at how our gifts and abilities match up to our mission, and it was one of the best meetings I have been a part of, ever. After that, we walked over to the new student center ($50 million) in the heart of Auburn's campus, where in 9 days, we will host encounter for the first time in this new venue. We are excited to have Daniel Bashta and Jason Morant leading worship with us.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Tonight we had dinner with our "local" family, the Blounts. There we were, all 8 of us. The table was full of crushed chips, cheese dip drips, bits of avocado and empty plates. When, the boys third grandmother, affectionately known as Queenie decided it was their birthday (July 6th and July 31st) -- August 11?....Close enough.
Free dessert and song.
Free dessert not on their birthday? Priceless.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This weekend my parents kept Josh and Caleb so we could focus on packing / giving away. There have been moments of laughter, like when it came to our "keepsakes" box, and what are the things April and I hold on to. None of these items take up much space, but when I look at them, I laugh and I am so grateful to be who I am in Him today.
We cleaned and packed our garage, kitchen, playroom. Funny - in every room, there were things we hadn't used in years. April found a china set (like with 36 plates alone) that we had literally NEVER used. Gone now - in a box. Or realizing how many coffee mugs does a family really need, much less use?
Our garage is now divided into two sections. What we have packed. What we are giving away. I am excited to see what simplifying life can do. Turns out, we have accumulated FAR MORE than we really need.
April and I listed to Francis & Lisa Chan this morning speak about Christ-centered Marriage. We were both challenged and really encouraged. Better put - More challenged, and in the "yes-God" moments, we were encouraged.
It's so haaa-aa-ard, to say goodbye, to yesterday...
These things no longer have a "hold" on me, or at least I'm at the place where I don't need them.
The Liberation List:
1. My Ruth's Chris Steak house waiters folder.
2. The hundreds of cd cases / booklets I thought I'd need. (see www.pandora.com)
3. Bags of extra clothing and shoes. (Platos Closet $67).
4. My Macbook box and packing materials.
5. Nintendo64. + games.
6. 2 Altec Lansing Bookshelf Speakers, Magnavox 5-disc CD changer,
7. Seminary notes, books, videos.
8. Relics from world travels that never really made the "display wall"
9. Plates I told April to hold onto for her own sentimental value.
10. Dwayne-wayne flip-up sunglasses.
11. 1995 version of Sony Dream Machine alarm clock.
12. Old flip flops.
13. Old tshirts from college road trips.
14. An extra "Beijing Starbucks" coffee mug -- who needs 2?
Useless items I still hang onto:
1. My first baby teeth and note from the Tooth Fairy.
2. Sigma Chi glass.
3. Cigar ash tray
4. Old watches that probably I'll never wear.
5. Old street maps of where I have been.
6. Poker chips.
7. BB-gun pistol (looks like a sweet 9mm).
8. XBOX (has pac-man for when Josh and Caleb can play).
9. Movie ticket stubs that I took April to, or Josh and Caleb to.
Last week, we our pastor gave a great sermon on not "letting our possessions possess us" -- and how appropriate that our house should rapidly sell. As we position our lives for greater mobility in the future, it boils down to the trivial, the expendable, and the invaluable.
Trivial -- random junk we all accumulate.
Expendable -- everyday use items we do need.
Invaluable -- things that are worth more than words.
I cut the grass on my John Deere riding mower, for probably the last time in a long time. It was a holy moment for me. Really. I think about how many fun hours I've had on the green machine -- almost every time I've used it, Caleb and Josh have been on my lap. It's what we do. We cut grass.
As I rode the mower, I thanked Father for the many memories, a beautiful yard, and the adventure He is inviting us into. The journey is always the point until we reach our ultimate destination in eternity. It makes me all the more aware how invaluable it is for me to embrace and invest in the lives around me, whatever I'm doing. Cutting grass included.
I realized something - there are moments in life where things are so amazing we'd never forget. No help needed. But the commonplace things in life, like cutting grass -- those are memories forged over time and repetition... and being intentional with people nearest you.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
One month or 4 crazy weeks. 9 showings. 2 offers.
Sold today. The market is bad. God is good.
When the time is right, it's a really cool story, one well worth sharing.
In the mean time, one more step in our recent journey to downsize and de-clutter.
One prayer: "Yes Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we eagerly wait for you, for your name and renown are the desire of our souls" Isaiah 26:8