Thursday, April 30, 2009

A New Song

No one would ever accuse my father of being a great singer. In fact, he often struggled to find the right tune. Apparently that is a genetic trait that is passed from father to son through the mystery of DNA!

Even though Dad would never win the American Idol competition, he loved to sing. He especially loved (this will miss most of you - but ring a strong bell for others!) The Sons of the Pioneers! Do you remember them? Leonard Slye (better known as Roy Rogers) got his start as a part of that famous vocal group.

As I remember, and as Dad would often sing, The Sons of the Pioneers had a song with a line that said, "Give me land, lots of land, don't fence me in!" Unfortunately, Dad only knew that particular line so he sang it over and over. Sometimes it was under his breath as background music. Other times it was loud and proud with great gusto. Either way, it became one of his many theme songs.

Give me land, lots of land, don't fence me in! It really is a multi faceted statement that includes personal philosophy, an image of home, a picture of expansive elbow room, and a desire for individual freedom. For Dad, it was also a message about his family that included his desire to provide abundantly. It represented open opportunity, no regrets, a positive and lush landscape that included much more than clean air and a place to spread your wings. It was a magical family address that mysteriously described a residence with no boundaries. It was a vision statement, a dream, a positive image of a future that was not yet, but was alive somewhere just over the horizon.

Dad didn't know it, but he was a planter of vision seeds. He saw things that were not yet available and made them a part of every day life. He sang his song in a way that reminded everyone that some day, some how, there would be blessing and abundance. In theological terms we would simply call it a vision of grace.

I wonder, does your home include a consistant vision of grace? In your heart, is the future bright and overflowing with possibilities even though today may not be filled with blue sky and green lights?

Do you have a new song, a vision song? Can you find the tune? Hey, what if we all sang it together? It would be a vision choir..."Give me land, lots of land, don't fence me in!"

Lord Jesus, we rejoice that you do not limit the grace that is available to our lives. Help us to sing your sing with glad and joyful voice! Amen

Thursday, April 23, 2009

104 Hunter Circle!

It happened! God is good! Our house went on the market late last week and six days later...we have a contract! It is a day of great celebration at our house but the details continue to move us into the future.

First, we need to close on the sale of our Kentucky property. Meanwhile, we need to find a new home in Colorado Springs. Then we need to invest in a cardboard box factory, load a truck, drive 1,100 miles, unload, take a deep breath, and begin a new phase of our journey in faith. We anticipate that all will go well but we need your prayers.

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Family

We often confuse people when we speak about our family. We might be talking about the three (Randy - Sue - Ana) of us who are at home together. Or we may be talking about our grown children and their children. We could even be talking about our close friends or the kids of Global Hope who live in Romania. It gets confusing. Most of the time it just means the three of us who live under the same roof. Even that is a bit of a story.

Our daughter Ana came to us when she was five and a half years old. She has been and will be with us forever and forever. Amen. She was born in western Romania to a family of impoverished gypsies. As an infant, she was abandoned into the state orphanage system. Things went on that way until her little sister was born and abandoned at the maternity hospital. As the Lord would have it, Sue and our daughter (Cheri) just happened to be in Romania looking for a child to adopt when Ana's sister was born. She (Loredana) was just five days old when they saw her for the first time.

One thing led to another and before long our already confused family became the ultimate blended family unit. While our daughter adopted Loredana, we adopted Ana. That all seems just fine until you try to sort out the relationships. You see, our granddaughter (Loredana) is our daughter's (Ana's) sister. Don't worry, it get better. Since that time our daughter (Cheri) and our son-in-law (John) adopted two more Romanian kids who are also full siblings to Ana and Loredana. I told you it was confusing!

For now, let me focus on Ana. She was twenty years old on March 8th of this year. She is tall, beautiful and funny. The photo to the right was taken within the first week of her arrival here in the United States. Since that time she has exceeded all expectations and surpassed every benchmark that was ever set. She is a gem! Check out this video link on YouTube to learn about her equestrian gold medal from the Special Olympics.

Ana reminds us each day that our God loves to do miracles. Most of the time those miracles take place right in front of our eyes. Sometimes we see them and sometimes we miss they all together. Have you found that to be true in your life? I know it is true for me. That's why I am thankful for Ana's daily reminder.

You see, when Ana was just an infant, she received an injection of a small amount of whole blood. As it turned out, that blood was contaminated with a number of life threatening infections. The most significant was HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

I like to think of it this way...Genesis 50:20 speaks about the life of Joseph. His brothers sought to do him harm but Joseph saw God. He saw a situation where certain behavior was intended for evil but God used it for good. The same thought is echoed in Romans 8:28 where we learn that all things work together for good. Even difficult health situations can work for good! The key is to have 50:20 vision so we can see God in action.

Today, Ana is healthy, strong, and filled with a wonderful sense of humor. She is also quiet, shy, and takes some time to feel fully comfortable with new people. She loves to watch from the sideline, take it all in, and then talk about it when everyone is gone. I think you will love her.

That's our family, confusing, unusual, unique, but centered in Christ and committed to faith.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring time in Kentucky

Sue and I keep a close watch on the weather each day. We obviously keep track of the weather patterns in central Kentucky but we are much more comfortable with spring time in the Rockies. That means that we connected with the spring snow storm last week. It brought back great Colorado memories to see that swirl of white flowing across the weather map. (It may not have been quite as much fun for some!)

At the same time, here in Kentucky, April means green grass, plenty of flowers, lots of fresh leaves, and rain that won't quit. Here is a good way to measure of the difference between the bluegrass country of central Kentucky and the mile-plus altitude of Colorado...(don't tell anyone, but) I have already mowed my lawn 6 (count them) 6 times! And it needs to be mowed today but it looks like rain! Bummer!

Along with the regular transformation that comes with warmer temperatures, we are dealing with one change after another. It is good, but it makes for a long string of busy days. We have been getting our house ready to go on the market. In fact, it was listed last Friday with a very successful open house that happened on Sunday. Two more showings on Monday and one this afternoon! We are pleased but continuing to pray for the right family to connect with our property.

At the same time, Sue is getting Ana ready for the move to Colorado and working faithfully to keep the house "ready to show" at a moments notice. She continues to work with our Beeson Pastor spouse group with Bible study and prayer groups.

When it comes down to the nuts and bolts transitions get filled with things to do and calendars to manage. But that is just the surface. We all know that the real issues are all about relationships.

Relationships need to be nurtured as they come to life, as they mature, and as they come to points of change. Saying good-bye is always a change point that many folks would really rather avoid. At least, I would like to avoid those words and moments of farewell. Isn't it great that 'in Christ' we never really need to say good-bye! Good friends are always good friends and new friends are just another a way of extending the links of love that start with the heart of God.

I was reading Matthew 5:1-12 this morning. I was thinking about many of our international students and how they are working faithfully around the globe to serve the Lord. I thought about how they (and we) are 'blessed to be a blessing' to others. That is what a life of faith is all about. How to I link to the love of God so my life can then become a blessing to others? How can I find my own life in the words of Jesus while still staying focused on those who are in relationship with me? How long can the chain of blessing become? Or is it really a chain or is is more like a series of strong links that knit us all together into a tapestry of joy?

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." I like it! It plays in Peoria, Colorado Springs, Wilmore, and in every corner of the globe.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shifting Gears

Saturday April 4th was one of those turning point days. It was cold and windy with a bit of snow in the air. We all know there are times when snow can create a mystical playground when large flakes gently fall to the ground with a gentle whisper. But this was horizontal snow. Horizontal and snow do not really do well together! Even in Colorado.
But there we were, gathering in the church for our first official meeting. The technology of Skype was supposed to connect Sue and Ana from Wilmore, Kentucky to our meeting room scene in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, there was a minor glitch that was worked out on site by the tech team.

After a couple of hours the Bishop's appointment was endorsed and I was welcomed as the newly appointed pastor of the Wilson United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs. We were delighted!

As of July 1, 2009 I will have the privilege of following Pastor Keith Watson who has been faithfully serving the people of Wilson UMC since he completed his work as a District Superintendent in 2004. It is my sincere desire to build on his work and on the foundations of faithful ministry over the past 20+ years. Each person connected with the Wilson congregation has made an impact. Together it will be our task to discern what God has in store for the next chapter of life shared together.
For now, it is time to complete our ministry here at Asbury Theological Seminary, sell our home, find a new home in Colorado Springs, pack a truck, say good bye to good friends, and (after a couple days on the road) arrive safely back at the foot of Pikes Peak.
We all know that every journey is about God's activity in our lives. Every person of faith knows that there are some essential elements that must be a part of any healthy soul. At a minimum we need to know that forgiveness is real, that hope is available and that the journey is not a solo flight.
Anyone want to buy a home in Wilmore, Kentucky?