Sunday, July 29, 2007

We Made it!

We made it to Texas! It's a long drive from Tampa, but we made it with no problems. We arrived at the hotel around 3:30 this afternoon. After we checked in, we took the girls by the new house. The builder gave us the key so that we could go inside. The girls were able to see their new rooms, and we even met a neighbor who was walking his dogs. Tomorrow is a big day. We have a walk-through scheduled at 9:30am, and then our closing at 11am. The one hitch in our plan is that our Tampa house, which was supposed to close in the morning, may not close until the afternoon. If that happens, then we may not be able to move in to our new house tomorrow, and our mover will also be stuck having to wait. He's in a hurry to get back to Florida for another move on Wednesday. It's incredible how many different people are affected by any changes in the plan. We're just going to take it one step at a time. If you don't hear from me for a few days, it's because our internet service will not be installed in the new house until August 6! Time Warner cable had a three week backlog on installations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Packed Up

Today our house in Tampa was packed up and is now completely empty. As I watched the truck pull away, (with all our earthly possessions onboard) it became real to me that we were really leaving. I took another stroll through the house and just thanked God for all of the memories that we have had in that house. I remembered how it was the only house we ever looked at when we moved to Tampa. We walked through it probably no more than fifteen minutes, figuring it would probably be sold by the time we were ready to buy. It was an older house (built in 1976), but it was in a good location, in a family friendly neighborhood, and it had a POOL! We didn't think we were going to be able to afford a house with a pool, but this one was in our price range. All of the pieces worked out (as God usually does) and we were able to sell our Nashville house quickly. When we called back to inquire about the Tampa house, it was still for sale. We made an offer over the phone, and they accepted. It certainly wasn't our dream house, but it's been home. When we moved in, our kids were toddlers. While we've lived here in Tampa, our kids have developed strong relationships with their grandparents that will last a lifetime. Last Monday night, when Anne mentioned to the girls that it would be our last night in our house, Samantha started to cry. It's the only house she's known. But Anne explained to her that our home is not defined by a house, home is where we are together as a family. We will have a new house, and it may feel strange at first, but because we are on this journey together, we will soon call it home too. There were times when Anne and I felt like that house was becoming too small for our family. There were times (like when we had to replace the roof, the air conditioner, the pool pump three times) when we wished we lived in something a little newer. But the things I will remember are: wrestling with Samantha every night at bedtime (her terrible two's lasted a year and a half) but being impressed with her fortitude. (She never liked to give in and go to bed). The three girls in little ballet outfits dancing in the living room. Eating dinner around the table and hearing about their first day at school. Praying at separate times with each of the girls at bedtime, and having them ask me to pray with them to ask God into their hearts. That house will always be the place where our young family started to mature, and our little girls grew into young ladies. I am thankful for all of the blessings that God has given us. As that truck drove off, I knew that this chapter was closing. Our house may be empty, but our memories are full, and a new chapter in our lives will soon begin...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Local Eats

As we're getting closer to leaving, I'm making sure to eat at all my favorite Tampa spots. I love eating at places that are a little bit off the beaten path, and that you can't get everywhere. My favorite subs can be found at Subport. I always get the #9 (Turkey and Cheese) with everything on it. There's just something about the combination of bread that they use, and the spices they add, that make their subs unique. I've been a fan of theirs ever since I was in college. Yesterday, the family and I ate at a new hamburger joint that just opened up around the corner. I think it's actually a franchise, but I haven't seen them anywhere else. It's called Five Guys, and they have some of the best burgers I've eaten in a long time. Whenever I go to Prime Time Sports Grill, I get the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. I order it hot, but not swimming in sauce. It's a huge piece of chicken for the price. (And, just to make me feel better, I order broccoli instead of fries.) I love Thai food, and we've got our share of Thai restaurants here in Tampa, but my favorite is still Benjarong Thai. I get the red curry (hot, of course). For a good bento box, you can't beat China-Fuji. I usually get the salmon. Does anyone know of any good local eateries I should try when I get to Frisco?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lightning Strikes

There is a reason why Tampa's hockey team is called the Lightning. It's because this area is known as the lightning capital of the world. Well, the lightning found us yesterday afternoon. Anne was getting ready to go to dinner with the Grace Family pastor's wives, and I was on the computer in the family room, when a big storm started. These are common in Florida, especially in the summer, so I didn't think much of it. Then I heard an odd sound. It sounded kind of like a big piece of equipment was powering down, and our lights flickered, but came back on. Then, five seconds later, it happened again and everything went off. At first, I figured it was just a normal power outage, but then I noticed that our air conditioner was still on, while everything else was off. I decided to walk out to the garage and see what the electrical panel looked like. when I walked out, I could see that the panel door was blown open, with black soot on the inside. As I got closer, I could see that there were still sparks flaring up inside the panel. I must admit my first thought was, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!??! The week that we are closing on the sale of our house, and my electrical panel is blown up?" Since I was watching it, and the sparks were dying down, I decided that I didn't need to call the fire department. But, I called an electrician. (This is where the silver lining comes in...) A co-worker had told me that he had some electrical work done on his house by this company, and their name stuck in my mind. So I called Small Jobs Electric and Nathaniel was here within 30 MINUTES!! He told me that I would have to replace the panel. I agreed, and he called his partner and they got to work. Five hours later, the electricity was back on, and we tested all the other appliances and electronics in the house and there was NO FURTHER DAMAGE! As I was going to bed last night, I was thankful that we were able to get the situation resolved so quickly. But, it was even more significant than I thought. At 9am this morning, there was a knock on the door. It was the APPRAISER! Can you imagine if we were still without power with a burned out electrical panel?! Anyway, he was able to see our house without any issues, and was off to write his report. I'm not sure what God is trying to teach me through yesterday's events, but I know that He was protecting us, and causing All things to work for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Monday, July 16, 2007

unemployed reflections

I'm now officially unemployed, but I've been busier than ever as we're preparing for our house to close and make the big move. There are so many little things to take care of through this process...

Thursday was my official last day at Grace Family. A lot of the staff was away at camp, but those that were in the office made sure to give me a hug and wish me well. As I was packing up, I began to reflect on the last six and a half years and think about how much the church has grown, how many opportunities for growth that I've had, and the circumstances that brought me here in the first place. It just confirmed in my mind that God has a plan, and has directed every step. In a lot of ways, I feel like Hope Fellowship is poised for the same type of growth that Grace has experienced. It's almost the same size, with the same auditorium constraints that Grace had when I came here. I can see God's hand in my time at Grace, preparing me to assist Hope through their next growth spurt. The time here at Grace has also allowed us to live close to our family. It's has allowed our kids to establish bonds with their grandparents and other family members that will never be broken. We have been very blessed.

My last weekend at Grace was July 1st. As we got ready for church that morning, I think we all felt a little tinge of reality hitting us. The girls were anxious to get to "The Zone," to be a part of the kid's ministry one more time. We were preparing for our last chance to minister with the "Blend" worship team. As you might expect, God definitely showed up in the service. The kindred spirit that we have felt with the worship team was evident, and we had a lot of fun playing music and worshiping together for the last time. I got a chance to share with the Blend, and the other three services how much I appreciated my time here. I am so grateful for how Pastor Craig has handled this whole situation. He has been clear that he didn't want me to leave, (I'm glad about that) but that he knew that God has put this in our hearts. He has been very supportive through the whole process. He presented me with a plaque thanking me for my time at Grace. Also, they put together a video that they showed to the congregation. I felt honored that they would spend so much time and effort putting it together, even if they used some pictures and video that I thought had been long forgotten. (You can see it here. If you look closely you'll even see Anne busting a move in one scene.)

This chapter may be coming to a close, but the relationships and friendships that I have been blessed with through my time at Grace Family will stay with me forever.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


This weekend we have been in Boss, MO celebrating my grandparent's (my dad's parents, I call them DaddyDon and Momeen) 70th wedding anniversary. It's quite a milestone, and so all of the family came in to celebrate. We're quite a bunch when we all get together. Our family has a long history in and around Boss. My relatives settled there a few generations ago, and there are still a lot of our family that live there today. When my grandparents retired in 1983, they decided to move back to the homestead for their golden years. Yesterday, we had a party at the Steven's steakhouse to celebrate the anniversary. And today, we all took part in the worship service at Boss Assembly of God. I am told that my great-great grandfather donated the land that the church sits on. DaddyDon pastored there in the 40's. I had the privilege of sharing in the service today, and am now the fifth generation in our family to have ministered in the church. As I was thinking back on this weekend, it struck me that we weren't just celebrating 70 years of marriage that has past, but a legacy that is only beginning. A legacy that is lived out in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, not to mention the numerous families that they have ministered to through the years. (I realize this post is long, but hey, I haven't posted for a week.) There are a few lessons that I've learned through their legacy. The first is faithfulness to God's calling. DaddyDon's ministry took him through Missouri, Illinois, Florida and Colorado. He has always been passionate about the cause of Christ, and willing to go where God wanted him to go. Through his example, I have a better understanding of Psalm 100:5, "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations." The second lesson I've learned from their legacy is perseverance. When I was a young boy, DaddyDon would take me fishing at Cherry Creek dam just outside of Denver. After we parked the truck, we couldn't just stop and fish where it was convenient. He had to make me walk over huge rocks for miles and miles (it was probably just a few hundred yards, but it seemed longer). But he knew that there was a payoff if we would take that walk. The fishing was much better on the other side. I know in their lives there have been plenty of "rocks" that they've had to climb over, but they understood what the bible meant in James 1:2 where it said, "Consider it pure joy my brothers, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." There are many more lessons that I could share, but I'll just share one more that sums it all up. Love. A love that lasts a lifetime is more than just a "butterflies in the stomach" feeling, but a deep commitment to each other no matter what the cost. I'm sure that their love hasn't been perfect over the years, but it's been the foundation on which their relationship has stayed strong. I Corinthians 13:4-7 is the textbook for how God loves us, and how we are to love others. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." A legacy of faithfulness, perseverance, and love is only possible when we dedicate ourselves to God and His purposes. My grandparent's legacy is really just a reflection of God's perfect faithfulness, perseverance, and love for all of us. When we accept Him, we begin a legacy for all who follow after us.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Requesting an extension

Yesterday I mentioned that I would post about our last weekend at Grace Family, but as it turns out I'm going to need an extension. Right now I'm in the middle of mortgage applications, packing to go out of town, and other frazzles. We'll be celebrating our fourth of July on the road. We'll be traveling for about fifteen hours on our way to Missouri to celebrate my grandparent's 70th wedding anniversary. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the family there. I'll tell you all about it later.... :)

Monday, July 2, 2007

The House

A lot has transpired since the last time I posted. Last Thursday, Anne and I left in the morning for Frisco, Texas on a house buying mission. As soon as we arrived at the airport, we picked up a rental car and headed off to find THE house for us. We met up with our realtor, Kim, and started looking at houses. We looked at probably a dozen on Thursday, and another dozen on Friday. On Thursday, the houses we looked at were mostly in the central area of Frisco, closest to the church. We liked that location, but none of the houses we saw felt like they were "the one." So, we decided to go ahead and look in the North Frisco area where there are newer subdivisions. The last house of the day was in a new neighborhood, had just recently been built, and was ready to move in. When we walked in, Anne said, "I like it!" She felt like this house could be home. We were done house shopping for the day, so we stopped by Hope Fellowship and hung out for a few minutes while their VBS program was finishing up. We were graciously hosted by Pastor John and Melissa. (Thanks Macy for letting us take over your room for a couple of days.) John even showed me my new office. They already have my name on the door! It made me feel good that they're getting prepared for me to arrive. I enjoyed seeing the staff there and saying hi, even though we only stayed for a few minutes. The next day, we concentrated solely on the North Frisco area and newer construction. After looking at all of those houses, we still came back to the one we had seen on Thursday night. When we looked at it again, we could envision our family living there. We kept questioning ourselves, because this house was the smallest one that we had looked at. But, the layout worked, and we would be able to get it for about the same price that we are selling our current home for. With all that in mind, we decided to make an offer. They countered, and we came to an agreement. We found THE HOUSE! We hopped back on a plane EARLY Saturday morning so we could make it in time for the weekend services at Grace Family. (I'll post more about that tomorrow) It's amazing how God is working out all of the details for our move. Now, it's starting to feel like reality.