A Few Good Men

Every Father’s Day is a day in which in am able to think about those men who have helped me along in the thing called life. I am blessed to have a loving dad who has been a blessing to not only me but so many others. I thank my dad for everything he has done over my 37 years. But in addition to him, there have been other men. Men who didn’t have to be there and at times, probably wondered why they were there. Men who, if asked today, may or may not know how they impacted my life. Men who, would never look for anything more than a hug when I see them and an honest answer to what was going on in my life.

These men came from all over. As far back as I can remember, there are certain men who took time out of their life to show me how to a a better son, husband, dad, friend and overall person. Some like Bill, came from my early days of church at St. Luke Presbyterian Church. Bill is a larger than life man in so many ways and would let me know when I was wrong but always corrected me in a loving manner. Bill always prayed with me and for me and to this day when I see him, he always gives me a kind word and something to think on. Others were coaches of ball teams like Vernon, LeRoy and Jim. These men showed me the importance of winning and losing the right way. They also showed me if you wanted to be great, it would take work.

Other men came from my family. Way too many to acknowledge all of them but they have normal names like Bob, Mike, Johnny, Clark, Wayne and David. They all have the same first name though, Uncle. There was J.W.; aka, Granddad. A tall, strong cowboy who would let you know where you stood. You weren’t allowed to talk politics or religion but if one on one, he’d let you know. I’d like to think he’d be proud today of our family. Proud of where we are and even more proud of who we’ve become. Others were Bob, Wheeler and Rodney. Brothers who would beat me up and tease me but be the first to stand up for me. Thanks guys! All of these men in the family have shown me how to love, teach, rebuke and love even when it’s hard.

More men came from church in my adulthood. Men like Mark, Kyle, Richard, Jason, Alan and so many others. Men who have prayed, loved, cared so much it hurt. We’ve shared tears, sweat and even bled a little in hopes of learning more about each other and Christ. We’ve laughed and been mad at each other. Asked for and offered forgiveness. Shared the Gospel and watched grown men fall to their knees experiencing the power of Christ. We’ve sat through long meetings and disagreed but always came back to the realization it’s not about us. We’ve seen growth in ourselves and our families. We’ve come together in the time of need and been so broken we didn’t think we could be fixed. We’ve been real.

As I look back, I can’t help but look forward to see who God might put in my life next.  I hope you’ve had a few good men in your life and I hope you’ve learned what they’ve tried to teach you. I only hope I can be as good of an example for my son Garrett as my Dad has been for me. I also hope I don’t get in the way of anyone’s growth. I am thankful for the lessons from a few good men and I look forward to more years of learning from more men! Thanks gentlemen!

Moving

Just in the past month, we moved into a new house here in Amarillo and it got me doing some thinking. Thinking about the past few years in our old house and how moving to this new house is not only a new beginning but a closing to so many other things.

When we moved into our house on 39th 5 years ago, Garrett was barely a year old and Elisabeth hadn’t started Kindergarten. Now Elisabeth is headed into 3rd grade and Garrett into 1st. It’s amazing the changes over the years in the kids in that house.

But it’s not just the kids that changed over the past few years. We have also changed. As I look back at every move we’ve made in the past 15 years as a married couple, it’s been during a time of change in more than the literal sense of moving houses.

For many of us, moving is a headache. It’s a time of stress, confusion on where things are, packing up your things, selling some stuff, giving some stuff away and possibly just throwing stuff away. It’s a time when we can sit and think about this and that and memories come back, one at a time and rush through us like a strong wind.

Moving is hard but necessary at times. It can release us or bind us, depending on the situation. But it should always allow us to start again. To wake up in a new place, wether it’s across town or across the world. New people to meet, new places to get used to and remembering where to go, home, not a house.

But for us, moving this time seemed a bit easier. I’m not totally sure why but I do believe it’s because this time, it wasn’t us moving. It was God moving in us. Leaving our “dream” home behind wasn’t hard because of the freedom it is bringing us. Freedom for Christy to quit teaching and concentrate on her business. Financial freedom of no debt. Freedom to do what we need to do, not have to do for the first time in a long time.

As I think back and now that we have moved and with the closing of our house very near, our “dream” home brought us many memories. Garrett learned the joys of walking, talking and playing in that house. Elisabeth made many friends at her school and started growing into a young woman right in front of our eyes there. We saw people grow in our house spiritually and personally. We had many people bless our home in small groups and we will always remember those times. I was able to see a life transformed on my couch there as a young man went from at wanting to end his life, to accepting Christ in a few hours of prayer, talking, loving and sharing.

It was a great home but those things won’t stay. They’ll move with us to our new home. That’s what makes a home. It’s not the house but the memories within the walls.

I’ve been blessed so much during this move and I ask that you take a look at where you are. Maybe you don’t need a literal move but a move in yourself. Maybe it’s time to pack some of the stuff away or throw the crap out. Maybe it’s time to go through the dust and cobwebs of life to see the beauty that is beneath. Maybe you haven’t seen or used some of your stuff (talents/gifts) in a while and it’s time to use them again before you have to throw them away.

I don’t know where you are but wherever you are today, I pray that you aren’t there this time next year. Sometimes growth is hard and there are times we have to pack up and move to get where we need to go next. Are you ready to move? I was and I did. What a blessing!!

I love you all!

One Year Later

It was December 13, 2007 and I had no idea what I was doing. Baseball’s Mitchell report had just been released and I was so focused on the report that I forgot I was leaving town that afternoon with some people from our college group (the Group) to go to Glorietta, NM for a conference. As the time passed, first Travis and Lindsey showed up, then Shaina and Nick  and lastly, Colt. We all piled into Christy’s van and started the drive to Glorietta.

It had been going through my mind all week. Get out of this trip and stay home. But for some reason, God wanted me to go. I had no real desire to go except maybe to get away and I was puzzled as to why God was telling me to go.

We made the drive and during the next 48 hours or so, we found out about each other. What we liked and what we didn’t like about each other. We found out that Travis makes amazing cookies, Colt likes to kill things, Nick and Shaina love each other no matter what, that Lindsey can sleep anywhere and at any time and that I like to talk until all hours of the night, morning or whenever. And this poor group found out way too much about me. 

But what none of us ever expected was the year we have had since then. Yes, we have had our issues within the group, as all groups do but it’s still a very strong group. We have gained so many people in the past year like Creed, Jessica, Sam, Matt, Wyatt, Alyssa, Dan, Tyler, Tony, Tamara, Nathan (both of you), Staci, Adam, Aaron, Sara Tara, Jasmine, Regina and Johnny. These people have brought joy, love and wisdom to the group.

Christy and I have been so blessed by each of the people in the group this past year. What started out as me tyring to figure out what God wanted me to do and Christy wanting no part of it, has grown our family. We love each of the people within the group and are ready to see what God has for the group over the next year. Friendships have grown and lives have been shaped over the last year. Christy and I have a new daughter from this group and along with Lindsey came Kristin. What a precious gift from God this group has been for us. Yes, our family is growing and we are very excited.

So, as God speaks to you and you don’t want to do what He asks, I urge you to act on what He says. If I would have gone against God’s wishes, I would not have the people in the group in my life. I would not have bible study partners on Wednesday nights, anyone at my house on Tuesday night or new family members to love and cherish forever.

So in short, thanks to each one of you in the group. You each have a special place in my heart and with your help, this has been an amazing year. I only pray that year 2 is as amazing and growing as year 1.

Love you all!!

Don’t be stopped by vision, be great beacuse of it!

Vision. It’s such a small word but has so many meanings. Vision is what we see and it helps us get to where we are going. In the true sense, vision is needed, good and desired. As people, our vision tells us about the things around us and if it works properly, it opens our mind and challenges everything we know. But when vision isn’t working properly, we see it as a handicap, disability or something to complain about. Vision isn’t all we need; it’s just something we get used to having. There are thousands of people who have never had eyesight but they had a greater vision than us.

Vision can’t be brought down to such a small thing as eyesight but for some reason that’s all we do. We put vision in this box and we don’t let it out. Whether it’s at work, home, school or church. If given by God, the “vision” of our future should guide us and lead us to where we are called to be. Every leader should have a vision and should share it often with those they are leading.

Vision should be talked about but not set in stone. I once heard Emmitt Smith talk about being a running back. They asked him about his running style and how he can see the holes that don’t appear to be there. His response was amazing. He said that as a running back, you can’t lock in on one vision, the goal, and nothing else. You have to be able to see all around you and continue to see who’s helping you by expanding your vision. His linemen were in the trenches and if he continued looking behind them long enough, he could see a new way to his goal. His vision was expanded and he didn’t get tunnel vision. 

 

In our lives, I think it’s easy to get tunnel vision. We have our minds and hearts set on one goal, which is awesome, but we have to realize that the vision could be enhanced or helped by those in the trenches. We have to be willing to look around and expand our vision. You see, having vision is not only about what’s in front of you; it’s having the ability to have peripheral vision. We have to be able to see what coming from all areas of our life. We have to see what’s coming from in front, from the right, let and what’s behind us. Those things that sometimes “broadside” us are the ones that hurt the most. If we are not looking out for all sides, our vision may be broke. It’s not what you see in front, it’s what you see all around. 

 

In order to help clear up our vision and expand our vision, we must trust those around us and allow them to help. We must be willing to drop our pride and give things over to the people in the trenches. We must know we can’t do everything by ourselves and just because someone is seeing a different vision, don’t discount theirs. You might just get a hole opened enough from someone else to spring you for a long run toward your goal.

Just like when you are sick, you go to the doctor and sometimes a hospital visit may be required. Vision sickness is the same. There are times we must leave a situation in order to get healed. We must give ourselves the medicine needed to get our vision corrected.

We can’t allow our vision to be clouded too long. If it stays clouded too long, it could destroy the vision that we have. And when this happens, we might miss our true calling.  

Allow your vision to grow beyond what’s in front of you. Look around and see who’s there. See if they are willing and able to help you pursue your goal. And if they are willing but not able, begin pouring into them so together you can grow and work toward each other’s goal.

 

Don’t let vision stop you. Remember, our eyesight changes over the years and so will your vision. Allow it to change and don’t be so stubborn that you miss seeing the hole that will spring you for a long run! Don’t be stopped by vision, be great because of it! 

 

Love you all!

A Servant’s Heart – Thanks Mom

This morning, I heard a sermon about being a servant and it made me think. I know, it’s scary but for 3 days this weekend, I have been thinking about this and that. This sermon was great and all I could think about is why do we serve? Is it because we want to or because we are called to? I know for me, it’s because I’m called to serve others. But if you know me, you probably aren’t totally shocked that I like serving in my church, community and my family.

But as I sat and listened, I could only think about what was being said and my mom. Yes, my mom. If you know Sallie Amason, you know all she has ever done is serve others. From as far back as I can remember, she has poured her heart and soul into helping others. Mom helped start and has worked with the Eveline Rivers Christmas Project each and every year and has faithfully worked the coat room at the Christmas project with a smile on her face. And that’s not easy unless you are a true servant. Mom kept kids in our home for 21 years and she will never know how many people’s lives she touched and help mold over the years. From putting a coat on others to cleaning up after boys and girls, she has stood the test of time.

As the sermon continued, Jonathan talked about when we serve 2 people benefit. You and the other person. But why stop there? I think when you serve as my mom has done, you benefit, the other person benefits but so does everyone else you and they come in contact with. Like a ripple effect, your serving can touch people for years and for miles!

My mom will never see herself as anything else than a woman who did what she had to do. And that’s the heart we should all pray for. Her name may never be on the side of any building and she may never be awarded any national award but the blessings she has received and will receive are enough for her. (As a matter of fact, she will probably tell me I should not have written this because she doesn’t think she deserves this, but she does!!) She just likes giving what she has for everyone to enjoy.

Thanks Mom for being you and for showing us how to truly serve like God wants us to serve. I can’t imagine how different this world would be with more people like you in it. You will never know how much you have influenced me and so many others. Hold your head high and know that without your example, I would not be the man I am today.

I love you Mom!!

Out, Up & ……In????

In the world today, we see organizations of all sizes and varieties looking up to others so they can reach out to others while forgetting about looking in. What I mean by this is quite simple. Organizations of all types, churches, nonprofits, business and groups all seem to have looking up for ideas and direction down pat. This allows the organization to reach out to the community in so many ways that is good for everyone involved.

While this is good; what happens to those inside who are doing the work if they are not getting what they need? Every person in the world needs things. They need love, food, direction and the ability to ask someone for help. In the past few years, we have seen many organizations go through changes that were meant to help the “IN” people when it actually ended up tearing them apart. When we only look up then out, the people in eventually will give up and not continue to see the vision the head of the organization has. Andrew Carnegie once said, “Give me the best factory in the world but take my people away, grass will grow on the factory floor, but leave my people and they will build a bigger better factory.” I think Carnegie had it right and now we have gone from that in America.

We have become more about the programs and less about the people. We concern ourselves with the names of the programs, not the names of our people. We think if our programs aren’t growing, neither are our people. Maybe it’s time we as leaders look at the true root of the problem. I see organizations all over America forgetting about training, teaching and caring for their people. Just sending them on a retreat, to a conference or putting them in small groups won’t always give them what they need. They need the head of the organization and their leaders to reach in to them and find out what they need. We can’t just sit back and wait for people to tell us what they need. We need to know our people good enough to know when they are hurting or where they are lacking.

It’s become a cut here and there so we can have more to spend out rather than in. We have to reverse this thinking. It’s extremely good to see everyone benefitting from others but if we continue to cut out teaching and training then how will we ever be able to keep our people going in the same direction we are going?

So, take a step back from your organization and see if you have a balance between Up, Out and In. If you don’t, I urge you to see how to correct the problem so the people can grow into the people they are called to be. Don’t let the need for being busy on a program or project kill your organization. Just a little more on the IN will produce so much more UP and OUT.

Love you all!!

Curb Appeal or Real??

While cleaning up my yard last weekend, I began thinking. I know it’s scary when I start thinking about anything but here’s what I came up with.

I noticed when we were done cleaning up the yard I was more worried about the front being cleaner than the back. I noticed that there weren’t half the amount of leaves in the front as there were in the back. I noticed that I spent more time and energy on getting the front looking better than the back. After we finished, I sat and wondered why. I thought about it long and hard and finally God gave me something.

He showed me that our lives are much like front and back yards. The front yard appears to be clean and everything’s great. We make sure the weeds are gone, the grass is cut and we have fertilized enough to make everything look good. But in the back, there are weeds, missing grass, things out of place, trash and dogs and kids running wild. I finally started wrapping my brain around this and thought WOW, our lives are like our yards. The front is open for everyone to see. The back is guarded by a fence and in order to see what’s going on back there we have to allow people in. We can’t stop anyone from seeing the front but they have to be invited in or they have to invade our privacy to see what’s going on in the back.

I think this is how our lives are. We have a great showing on the outside (front yard) but inside (back yard), things are chaotic and weeds are growing. Things get out of place here but as long as we can continue having a front that is clean we think all is well. This is not the case though. Even if we have an appearance of the front being clean and perfect, deep down if things aren’t well, we have trouble inviting people in to see who we really are.

On this Thanksgiving, I urge you all to take a look at yourself, outside and inside. It’s easy to have the appearance everything’s good in the front yard but if you never let anyone in the back yard, you may never know anything’s wrong deep down.
Our lives are much like curb appeal. Curb appeal may sell someone to come inside but they may not buy it if you are not real. Are you real or do you just have curb appeal?? Happy Thanksgiving!

Love you all!!