Category: Carley (page 1 of 7)

Little Bear in the Big Apple

We told all three daughters years ago that during the summer after their high school graduations we would take each of them for a week long vacation anywhere they want to go in the contiguous United States. Our third daughter just graduated and we just took our third trip to New York City.

Of course, the trips have all been really different. Whitney scheduled hers around a four-game Rangers-Yankees series at Yankee Stadium. Valerie just wanted to see a lot of Broadway shows. And Carley this past week wanted to spend most of her time at The Met, Central Park, and shopping on Fifth Avenue.

Carrie-Anne and Carley and I rode a lot of trains and walked a lot of miles. Over the Brooklyn Bridge and back on our first night in town with a giant New York style pizza at Juliana’s in-between. Throwing up the Delta with the Wall Street bull. We strolled the unique High Line park and ate at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. We saw Wicked and the Lion King, took in medieval paintings and 3,000-year-old sculptures at The Metropolitan Museum, learned how to really jaywalk, and got to know Grand Central Station like the backs of our hands.










And, of course, we tracked down the Seinfeld diner. It’s not Monk’s; it’s Tom’s Restaurant. But we had breakfast there and took a lot of pictures and traded a lot of one-liners from our favorite sitcom. We also found the Friends fountain in Central Park. I was a little underwhelmed — I thought there’d be more water.










We toured Rockefeller Center from the top down, shopped at Chelsea Market where Carley found a vintage Aerosmith concert T-shirt, gasped at the price of diamond jewelry at Tiffany’s, and marveled at a twelve-foot T-Rex made of Coach purses and bags. We cheered for the Broadway wannabes at Ellen’s Stardust Diner and saw the famous Naked Cowboy from a distance.










The people are not nearly as friendly and you really have to apply yourself to locate a Dr Pepper. But New York City is a wonderful place to visit. It’s impossible to run out of things to do or see, whether people-watching in the train stations, staring at Picassos in the Met, or meandering through a nearly 300-year-old cemetery. We went hard from early in the morning until late every night and had an absolute ball.  And when our plane landed in Amarillo at 12-noon on Saturday, we got to Abuelo’s as fast as we could for that one thing you certainly cannot find in New York.




Carley: Peace, Out!

Our youngest daughter Carley graduated with honors and a dozen cords around her neck from Canyon High School Friday night. The ceremony at West Texas A&M’s United Bank Center was preceded by a Tex-Mex feast at our house attended by most of our scattered family and Central covenant group and followed by Ping-Pong doubles and more Blue Bell afterward.







The weekend will go down in family lore as the time Keith brought the Griff’s cup, when Carley forgot her gold National Honor Society tassel, and when Calico County couldn’t quite handle fifteen for breakfast.





Thank you so much to everyone in our immediate family and our wonderful church family who have made the past couple of weeks so memorable for Carley and us. Thank you for taking the time and energy to share your love and pour yourself into our daughter.



More Than Enough Power

98.6 is your normal sitting body temperature. It is also our youngest daughter Carley’s four-year cumulative GPA at Canyon High School. Carley was recognized last week for the fourth straight year as a Superintendent’s Scholar, awarded to all students who finish a school year with at least a 95 grade point average. They gave her another cord to wear at this Friday’s graduation. That makes almost a dozen. Her posture will be out of whack and her neck will be super sore after Friday night.


We’re in the beginning stages of a sermon series from Galatians in which we are stressing that the Good News of salvation from God is “Christ Alone” — nothing more, nothing less. And we made the argument last week that Christ Alone is about his power.

Our salvation from God in Christ is about the power and the authority to create and restore, his power to save, his power to move us from one state of being to another, to move us from this present evil age to the eternal age of salvation and life, from the control of the world and its structures to the merciful control of our good and faithful God.

Galatians shows us that we are moved by Christ out from under the control of the enemy into the loving control of God’s Spirit. We are rescued from slavery and moved by Christ into a state of freedom. It’s not about when one age ends and the other begins — they both exist at the same time. It’s about control. It’s about the power. Who’s running things for you and your world?

“Through the Law I died to the Law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (2:19-20)

“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up until faith should be revealed… Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law.” (3:23-25)

“We were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under Law, to redeem those under Law, that we might receive the full rights of sons… So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir… Now that you know God — or, rather, are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (4:3-5, 7, 9)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation!” (6:14-15)

Maybe you feel trapped. Maybe you feel like a powerless pawn in a cosmic game of chess or chance that you don’t have any control over. It feels like something’s got you. Maybe it’s an external force, maybe it’s an internal compulsion — something’s got you. And you’re in a cycle. A bad cycle that just keeps repeating over and over, around and around. These patterns can only be broken when the ultimate authority and power steps in to pull you off that awful treadmill. Christ alone has that power. His death and resurrection pulls off the ultimate rescue and sets us free. So not only does Jesus deal with your past, but we’re all under a gracious control that empowers us for the present and the future.

“Christ Jesus gave himself for our sins” (1:4). Can you begin to comprehend the extraordinary radical thing that is?

Jesus has stepped in and taken our place. He has assumed our responsibility. He’s taken on our failures. We don’t have to languish in our guilt, we don’t have to suffer with remorse. Christ died for your sins and you don’t need to hang onto them anymore. Christ alone gives us the grace and the power to live in freedom and eternal life today!

Christ Alone — nothing more, nothing less. Nothing subtracted from that and nothing added to it. Christ Alone — to the glory of God the Father for ever and ever. Amen.



Third and Last Senior Sunday

Dearest Carley,

We’re beaming today, sweetie. We’re so proud of you. We admire so much your unique talents and abilities and we’re amazed by your single-minded determination to live your life with excellence. It’s been an exciting four years at Canyon High School, the fun “experiment” with the golf team, all the retreats and mission trips, your expanding circle of great friends, and your wild success at Palm Beach Tans. We have so enjoyed every minute of watching you mature and flourish into a beautiful, confident, godly young lady.

Our God has placed kind and loving people in your path, Carley. Those friends and those teachers who love you so much are a gift from our God. Jenise Blankenship is a blessing from God. So are Dale and Karen, Steve and Becky, and Aleisha and Blu. Craig and Donna. Tanner. Derrell Havins. They all love you very much. And they have each played important roles in shaping you into the Christ-like woman you are becoming.

We clearly see our Lord’s servant heart reflected in your acts of compassion and concern for others. We see his joy in your smart sense of humor and your hearty laugh. We see his peace when you handle teenage drama with a more even keel. And we see his grace in the way you take care of others.

Some parts of you, Little Bear, will never change. You’re probably always going to eat potato chips in bed. You’ll forever love Sponge Bob and The Lion King. You’ll always melt and say, “Awww…” when you see a puppy. You’ll always enjoy listening to Tom Petty and Aerosmith, watching 1980s movies, and eating grapes. You’ll keep drinking exotic waters, reciting Seinfeld lines, making salsa, and taking 45-minute showers. And you’ll never stop blessing our family and filling our lives with your inexhaustible love, joy, and laughter.

There’s no denying that you are grown up and equipped and ready for everything that’s coming in your future. We are so proud of you and what our God is shaping in you. You are a beautiful, talented, funny, super-smart, wonderful daughter of God. He shines out of every facet of your complex personality and adorable little quirks. You reflect Jesus. And it’s fabulous. We’re very proud to be Carley’s parents.

May our God bless you richly, daughter. May he strengthen you and empower you by his Holy Spirit to live the rest of your life the way you’ve lived these first few years. May he continue to work through you to spread his love and grace to others. May your life bring him eternal glory and praise. And may you walk with him always, Carley, faithful to the end.

We love you.

Mom and Dad
Senior Sunday 2018

Recreating the Laundry Hamper Pic

The first picture was taken twelve years ago when Valerie and Carley were six and eight-years-old. We were living in Kyle and Marti Futrell’s rent house on Mission Hills Road in Marble Falls while I was going to grad school in Austin. The laundry hamper in the master bath was a favorite hiding spot and they played in there often. I have no idea where the ivy on the counter came from.

The second picture was taken today, right after lunch, just before Valerie headed back to OC. Valerie and Carley are eighteen and twenty and they don’t fit in tight places the way they used to. The ivy is twelve years older, too.



I Miss Tom Petty

I had just turned thirteen-years-old in the fall of 1979 when I heard Tom Petty for the very first time. It was either “Refugee” or “Don’t Do Me Like That,” I’m not entirely sure. I know it was on The Zoo, 98FM in Dallas, and I know it was on my almost brand new stereo / turn-table / receiver with the smoky gray dust cover. But I don’t remember which song it was because the radio was rotating several cuts from Petty’s third studio album, “Damn the Torpedoes.” I wanted to buy the album. My parents wouldn’t allow it because of the profane title. So I bought all the singles. “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Refugee,” “Here Comes My Girl,” and “Even the Losers.” All on 45s. I’ve still got ’em.

Van Halen and Aerosmith take me back to high school. It’s nostalgic. Listening to those two bands reminds me of all the stuff most people like to be reminded of: their carefree youth and all those firsts. I love listening to Van Halen and Aerosmith. But it’s only relevant to the 80s. It’s a little silly, actually.

Tom Petty, however, has been my constant musical companion from my junior high “Zoo Freak” days to right now on this sad first day without him. Tom Petty kept writing and recording the songs and the songs kept maturing along with me. His music kept speaking to me, reflecting me, giving voice to my heart and my thoughts in our current context. His songs never hearkened back to the good ol’ days. “Wildflowers” and “Learning to Fly” would never have contained songs like “Anything That’s Rock n Roll” or “Rockin’ Around (With You).” His past four or five albums have been packed with wistful and reflective songs, lyrics that speak to past regret, mistakes made, broken promises, a realistic (some might say cynical) view of the present, and a very hopeful look to the future.

These lines from “Anything That’s Rock n Roll,” from Petty’s first album:

“Some friends of mine and me stayed up all through the night / rockin’ pretty steady ’til the sky went light / didn’t go to bed, didn’t go to work / I picked up the telephone, told the boss he was a jerk / Your mama don’t like it when you run around with me / but we got to hip your mama that you got to live free / don’t need her, don’t need school / you don’t like your daddy and you don’t like rules…”

are a whole lot different from these lines from “All You Can Carry” on his last album:

“I saw a ghost by the road tonight / and then my mind ran away with me / I had a vision in the changing light / something saying that it’s time to leave / Take what you can, all you can carry / take what you can and leave the past behind / take what you can, all you can carry / take what you can and leave the past behind / we gotta run / There’s something moving in the dark outside / I gotta face it when it hits the light / no one can say I didn’t have your side / no one can say I left without a fight / Take what you can, all you can carry / take what you can and leave the past behind.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Every one of his albums contains a whole lot of what every one of his albums contains. You’re going to find some rebellion and some hard rock guitar riffs. And, yeah, there’s plenty of cynicism or realism in those early records, too. The first lines of “American Girl” from their debut album in 1976 tell you right away that Tom Petty’s going to call ’em like he sees ’em.

But his latest works over the past quarter century have grown up with me. Or I’ve grown up with them. Both.

He always communicated a realistic look at the problems all around us. But he underscored most of his songs with hope. I wouldn’t carry this too far, but Petty’s work is like the Psalms in that sense. Here’s what’s going on in my life / the world / this country / my relationships that feels bad and wrong. But we all know there’s something better waiting for us around the corner.

His latest, and now last, studio album, 2014’s “Hypnotic Eye” is unapologetic when it comes to pointing out the problems with the power structures in the United States, the political corruption and polarization that’s dividing the country, the senseless violence, and the unfulfilled promises. Check out these lyrics from the album’s first offering, “American Dream Plan B”:

“My mama’s so sad / daddy’s just mad / ’cause I ain’t gonna have the chance he had / my success is anybody’s guess / but like a fool I’m bettin’ on happiness.”

“Burnt Out Town,” “Power Drunk,” and “Shadow People” are blistering declarations of the problems in today’s society. But mixed into the middle of all that are cuts like “Full Grown Boy,” “Sins of My Youth,” and “Fault Lines.”

“See these fault lines laid out like land mines / it’s hard to relax / a promise broken, the ground breaks open / love falls through the cracks / and I’ve got a few of my own / I’ve got a few of my own fault lines / running under my life.”

There’s baptismal imagery in “Red River” and so much self-reflection and regret — an acknowledgment of past mistakes and current weaknesses — in “Full Grown Boy” and “Fault Lines,” that it sounds like the heart of an honest man nearing the last laps of his race.

And he was.

Tom Petty had just completed his 40th anniversary tour with three shows at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. and was telling reporters that he was done with long tours. He’s got a granddaughter now and he can’t be a good grandpa if he’s on the road all the time. He wanted to quit touring and start this last part of his life with his family and, especially, his granddaughter.

That stinks.

And I miss him already.

I always bought every Tom Petty album the moment it was released. I’ve got ’em all. And I’ve been listening to them back-to-back-to-back since last evening. When the news broke, I was on the Oklahoma Christian University campus in OKC for their annual lectures. My sister Rhonda had texted me the news, forwarding a text from her husband Geoff, because he knew I would want to know. As soon as I verified it, I called Carley.

That phone conversation did not go well. Carley shares my love for Tom Petty’s music. It’s her soundtrack, too. She and I saw him perform from really great floor seats at American Airlines Center for her 16th birthday two years ago. We were planning to see him together in Dallas and / or Oklahoma City every single time he played until the day he died.

The last lines Tom Petty sings on that last album come at the very end of the most brutally honest and brilliant song he ever recorded on the state of things in this country. The song is “Shadow People” and it’s tough. It’s about our political and social divisions. It’s about how nobody thinks anymore, nobody talks anymore — we just react. And we stockpile water and canned goods and guns. And everybody’s afraid. We’re all hiding our true selves behind our political positions. And you can’t tell who’s who because nobody seems interested in real conversation. But, in true Tom Petty fashion, he ends the song and the album and, now, his life catalogue by expressing and renewing our hope.

“Waiting for the sun to be straight overhead, ’til we ain’t got no shadow at all.”



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