Joy in the Lord

Carley, Carrie-Anne, Central Church Family, Faith, Giving, Ministry, Valerie, Whitney No Comments »

You don’t necessarily have to turn on the evening news. In fact, do people even turn on the evening news anymore? All you have to do is not have your head buried in the sand to know that there is a great deal of anxiety and worry in our society. The state of things right now can very easily drag you down and steal your joy. How is it that the Bible commands children of God and disciples of Christ Jesus to always rejoice?

Well, where are your eyes? What are you looking at? What or who are you listening to?

As followers of Jesus, we are very well aware of all the things God is doing in us and through us. We can always rejoice in the knowledge and experience of God working among us. And that’s always constant. That never changes. God is always at work. We see the evidence of his great work, we sense the working out of his redemption and reconciliation plans, we feel his hand at work in us and through us, saving and changing lives all around us. The Lord is always at work among us and that is always reason to rejoice.

I see it in the Central teenagers who stop by my office on the way to Chick-Fil-A for a free promotional sandwich. Ellie and Justin are pouring into those kids the same grace that God has shown them and the kids are eating it up. I see it in the 30 men from Canadian Church of Christ with whom I had the great honor of hanging out with in Angel Fire this weekend. God is on the move with these men — moving in them and through them — and they are on fire for God’s mission in this world. I hear it when Valerie, our middle daughter, calls me from Arlington to tell me she’s changing her major from childhood education to youth ministry. God’s Spirit is changing Valerie forcefully and beautifully into a dedicated servant of the Gospel. I sense it when Carley, our youngest daughter, shows up in all the pictures from the Sao Paulo mission trip — painting, laughing, serving children, worshiping, leading. She’s finding her gifts and settling into her place in the Kingdom.














I see it when my brothers and sisters at Central join forces to do good deeds for people in downtown Amarillo. We’re making gift bags for the staff and clients at CareNet and Gratitude House. We’re cleaning the carpets and painting the doors at PARC. We’re painting the storage shed and spreading new wood chips on the playground at Elwood Park. We’re giving away 200 books and reading the children at Bivins Elementary. We’re treating the ladies at Martha’s Home to a dinner out at a nice restaurant.


Our God is working in and through everything that’s going on around us. That knowledge and that experience gives us a stable and deep-rooted joy — an inner joy — that enables us to not only cope with disappointments, but to see things as they really are. In any and all circumstances God is always at work among his people. And that is always reason to rejoice.



ZZ Top in Amarillo

Allan's Journey, Carley No Comments »

“We’ve been coming here to Amarillo for five decades! Same three guys! Same three chords!” ~Billy Gibbons, founder and lead singer and lead guitarist for that little ol’ band from Texas, about halfway through ZZ Top’s first set during Friday night’s concert at the Amarillo Civic Center Auditorium

One of the things I miss about living in Dallas is the live music concerts. Big bands just don’t swing through Amarillo. So we didn’t hesitate when it was announced three months ago that ZZ Top was extending their Tonnage Tour with a stop in the panhandle. Carley and I got our tickets quickly and she asked a couple of her friends on the Canyon High School golf team — Kayla and Makenna — to join us.

I’d seen ZZ Top three times prior: twice at Reunion Arena during my college years and again about ten years ago when they opened up for Aerosmith at Starplex. But this show was going to be extra special — I was going to share it with my youngest daughter and it was going to be in the tiny Civic Center Auditorium that only seats 2,300. I can’t believe they’re playing this tiny venue!

And, yeah, the whole experience was classic ZZ Top — a stripped-down stage, the bare-minimum on lights, simple chords, easy lyrics, understated choreography, fuzzy guitars, obligatory references to Amarillo and Texas… and super LOUD! What a blast! I reminded Carley and her friends that when ZZ Top’s biggest album came out — Eliminator, the album that put them on the mainstream map in 1983 with those catchy songs and tongue-in-cheek videos — I was a 17-year-old junior in high school. Just like them. And then we sang those hits together with Reverend Billy G, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard in our little civic center auditorium. “Got Me Under Pressure.” “Sharp Dressed Man.” “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” How cool is it to pump your fist in the air with your daughter and shout together, “Go get yourself some CHEAP SUNGLASSES!!!” They also covered Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and surprised us with “16 Tons” and “Act Naturally,” featuring a guest steel guitar player whose name I didn’t get.

The girls got their t-shirts. I got to see one of my favorite bands again and didn’t have to drive six hours one way to do it. And I got to share it with Carley. That’s a pretty good night.



Fear the Frog

Carley No Comments »

We spent one of Carley’s official college visit days today at TCU. I’m not certain why TCU is at the top of her list of choices for her higher education — she does have a lot of purple clothes. But we spent a good four to five hours there this morning touring the campus, listening to the spiel, taking pictures, visiting with recruiters, and buying a discounted Horned Frogs T-shirt.

I think she loves the history of TCU, the beautiful old buildings, the sprawling trees and colorful flowers that highlight the landscaping, and the uniqueness of the school mascot. I think having a football team in the Top 25 also adds to the allure. And being in a big city also seems to be a plus.

Either way, we met some nice people today and ate good Mexican food at Los Vaqueros on West Berry. Pretty good day.



A Legal Adult

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carley8giftOur youngest daughter turns 17-years-old today. Carley Renae, our little bear, is regarded now as a legal adult by the statutes of the great state of Texas. Our baby. Gnarles. The tiniest of marsupials. Seventeen? Yeah.

I know that a lot of parents tell their children, “You’re always going to be our baby girl.” And, in a lot of ways, I do still see you, Carley, as our baby. I’m still a little surprised when you talk about going to a friend’s house or doing something at school and I don’t have to plan how you’re going to get there and back. My heart catches just a bit when you come home talking about sizing your Senior ring or sending SAT scores to your top five colleges. The way you talk so effortlessly about advanced mathematics and physics and psychology causes me to shake my head. Your ambitions, your plans, your relentless ways of pursuing what you want catch me off guard. All of those wonderful things remind me that you’re seventeen, not seven.

carleybearbirthday5Of course, you still drink a tall glass of ice cold chocolate milk every single night before you go to bed. You still like for your back to be scratched or your hands to be held. And you still giggle and oooh and ahhh over cute puppy dogs and furry kitty cats.

But, yes, you are an adult today, Carley.

You’ve overcome so much by being our youngest daughter. Most all of your clothes have been hand-me-downs. You’ve always had the last pick on rooms in a new house, seats at the table and in the car, and where we’re going out to eat. Your baby book is by far the smallest and thinnest of all the Stanglin girls’. (Sorry; do we even know where it is?) It’s tough being the youngest.

golf2015But, wow, you’re definitely not our baby anymore. Carley, you have turned into a beautiful, talented, compassionate, brilliant, hilarious, young lady. You reflect the character of our God who created you. And you make your mom and me so incredibly proud of what he is doing in you and through you to his eternal glory.

Happy Birthday, Bear. Thank you so much for blessing our lives and our family with so much joy and love. Thank you for giving us that, and so much more, to look forward to in the future.

I love you. And I’m very proud of everything you are and everything you’re going to be.



12odorThe Texas Rangers’ magic number for clinching the American League West Division title is down to twelve. I’m worried about our bullpen, Dyson doesn’t give anybody much confidence, and until last night each of our starters had struggled in their past couple of starts. The offense is certainly there. But pitching is what counts if a team has hopes of advancing in the postseason. They can win a five game division series with just Hamels and Darvish. But they’re going to need a third guy to step up if they’re going to get back to the World Series. And today I don’t know who that is.



First Day Pics

Carley, Carrie-Anne, Valerie No Comments »

Today’s the first day of school and I must join the rest of humanity in posting a few pictures of my children. Give me a break; you know you’ve already done it.

Valerie has transferred this year to Oklahoma Christian University: the home of the Eagles, the former home of Enterprise Square USA, and the place where Carrie-Anne and I met and fell in love. The whole family piled into a couple of cars Friday to deliver Valerie to Edmond, to her new dorm room at Tinius Hall, and to meet her new roommate, Aimee, who lives in Childress.


It’s at once wonderful and strange when your daughter enrolls at your alma mater. Valerie’s Bible professor this semester is a Delta brother I went to school with at OC, Jeff McMillon, and her history professor is her uncle, my sister Rhonda’s husband Geoff. There are twice as many buildings and ten times as many trees on campus as there were thirty years ago. Goldie’s is gone and I can’t even find Johnnie’s or Pumps. But OC still feels like a wonderful community of smart and caring Christians who will support and encourage, teach and challenge, shape and guide our daughter.

As for Carley, today begins her Junior year at Canyon High School — she’s an upper classman! Still playing golf, still completely obsessed with her grades, still totally driven to be Valedictorian, still incredibly social and motivated to spend time with her friends and, yet, still unbelievably void of any desire to get out of bed before 11:00 am.

I sang the song at 6:15 this morning. She rolled over and groaned.




Carrie-Anne is beginning her third year as the culinary arts director for Canyon and Randall High Schools with three packed out classes. She has really grown that program into a regional powerhouse around here and they’re having to turn students away.

For Whitney and me, nothing much changes. We keep the same routine we’ve been managing all summer: getting up, going to work, and wondering why the Rangers can’t win a weekend series against a last place team.



New Jobs & Old Friends

Carley, Stanglin Family, Valerie No Comments »

BigTexans2Valerie and Carley are now both working for the city of Amarillo’s most widely known tourist attraction: The Big Texan. Yes, the home of the 72-ounce steak that comes free of charge if you can eat it and all the appetizers and sides and dessert in one hour or less is employing our two youngest daughters. Valerie is serving, Carley is hosting, and they’re both keeping alive every Texas stereotype you can imagine for the hundreds of foreigners (anyone outside of Texas) who eat dinner and kill time in the giant gift shop. Carley is instructed to greet all guests with a hearty, “Howdy, y’all!” They wear cowboy boots and cowboy hats and serve up huge steaks and country sides and a lot of sweet tea. They are not yet toting guns or riding horses.

All three of our daughters are now hard-working, tax-paying, productive members of society. Yee-haw!


What a glorious weekend with two great and dear friends, Chris and Liz Moore. They rode their twin Harley Davidsons up here from Mesquite on Thursday and stayed with us through Sunday afternoon. They rode the Palo Duro Canyon, spray painted a heart on a car at muddy Cadillac Ranch, and spun a couple of times around Lake Merideth. We ate catfish together down in Umbarger, grilled fajitas, stayed up way too late, prayed together, and laughed and laughed and laughed.


When we moved to Dallas-Fort Worth in 1999, Chris and Liz just happened to be sitting at the end of the pew we chose at the Mesquite Church of Christ — for the record, yes, they were there first and had been there a long time. We walked in to church with an almost seven-year-old Whitney, a barely two-year-old Val, and six-weeks-old Carley in a car seat / carrier. We plopped down on that same row with the Moores and they immediately welcomed us with their generous hearts and joyful sense of humor. Somehow, we clicked. And we’ve been clicking with them for 17 years now and counting.

Chris and Liz, we love you and your sweet family. We’re so grateful for the time we were graced by God to spend together this past weekend. Let’s see each other again before Tulsa.