Category: Stanglin Family (Page 2 of 20)

Family Cruising

Carrie-Anne and I returned home yesterday from our first ever cruise, a couple of shades darker, a couple of pounds heavier, and very, very, very relaxed. It was a six-day cruise to the Caribbean with my parents, my two sisters, and our spouses. Two of Rhonda’s kids and their spouses also came along, and Ro-Ro’s 15-month-old granddaughter, Joanna.  We tried to do it all – the food, the beaches, the excursions, the entertainment, the sun, the water. There is video out there of me in a Karaoke club belting out Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” and struggling to reach a couple of notes that were higher than I anticipated. You’ll not find that video here. Instead, a few carefully selected shots of our Stanglin family cruise.

The adventure began with my nephew Paul’s wedding to the lovely Tara in beautiful Liberty Hill, Texas. It was an outdoor wedding at 3:00 in the afternoon during the last week of May in Central Texas. But the effects of the heat were mitigated mightily by the magnificent oak tree and the icy Dr Pepper served up in the frosted glass bottles.

From there, we drove down to Galveston and boarded the Carnival Dream, a 133-ton, 12-story ship that holds 3,700 passengers and 1,200 crew members. I think they were all in line for the pizza at the same time every day.






We snorkeled in Cozumel. Carrie-Anne and Sharon got their hair braided in Belize. We negotiated with shop owners in Costa Maya. We went to the comedy club five nights in a row. We made all the requisite Love Boat jokes and references. We ordered two and three appetizers and entrees at dinner. We played ping pong and miniature golf. We alternately romped and relaxed at several different beaches and resorts. We made fun of the cruise director. We met a lot of great people, mostly from different parts of Texas. We saw gorgeous sunsets. We competed in trivia. We ate alligator nuggets and fried frog legs. We tried a lot of different cakes. We celebrated my dad’s upcoming 80th birthday. And we slept really well.





Cruising makes sense to me now. I can clearly see the appeal. I don’t know exactly what my parents paid for us to do this together, but I think the cost per day – which includes lodging, food, and entertainment – was less than it takes to get a hotel room. I can’t see myself becoming one of those people who cruise all the time, two or three times a year. But I won’t be surprised if C-A and I find ourselves on a ship again in the near future. And I’ll be singing something from a little later in Tom Petty’s catalogue, something from Full Moon Fever or Into the Great Wide Open. A little more in my range.



Holy Land Recap

It took fifteen years and a little peer pressure from her new friends in Midland, but my wife Carrie-Anne finally went with me to Israel and it was a blessing that defies description. Our youngest daughter, Carley, accompanied us along with 23 beautiful Christian friends from Midland, Amarillo, Henrietta, Fort Worth, California, and Hawai’i. What a thrill, personally, to share my love of the Holy Lands with Carrie-Anne and Carley, to show them the places that mean so much to me, to experience it in brand new ways through their eyes.







Carley endured the twelve-hour flight from JFK to Tel Aviv with earplugs, an eye mask, and an old Nike hoodie pulled together around her face. But once we arrived, she was all in. She would give our trusted guide Anton about 25-seconds at each site and then she’d be off with her camera, climbing the walls, going behind the ropes, breaking international laws. She never was as interested in what was happening as she was in what else might be happening. And her mood was a little too dependent on the kind of food that was available. So we were all much better off as a group when we found real Dr Pepper at that store in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter (where else?) and that delicious Papa De Pizza. Carley marveled at Caesarea on the Sea, hiked the ancient Serpent Path to the top of Masada, took the obligatory picture with an IDF soldier, climbed all those steps to the top of the tell at Beth Sha’an, and ate a lot of Slim Jims. We laughed a lot. We watched a generational storm together on the Sea of Galilee. And she read the Christ hymn aloud while we worshiped on the banks of the Jordan River.







I was a little worried about Carrie-Anne. She doesn’t like to sweat. Which is to say, she doesn’t like to be outside when it’s 73-degrees or hotter. And her hair requires an abundance of preparation and maintenance. But she did it. And I love her for it. She floated the Dead Sea, waded through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and tried falafel. Once. We sang “It Is Well”  together at St. Anne’s Church next to the Pools of Bethesda and wiped the tears from each other’s faces when we were through. She was disgusted by the garbage at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and enthralled by the view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. And she helped keep me organized and calm.

Carrie-Anne reminds me how to worship. And how to relax. And how to love Jesus. She is my partner. She reminds me how to receive and give the Lord’s grace. And I praise God that we finally did this together.






Doug never let up in his enthusiasm for the water and for the climb. Penny made sure we stopped at every single restroom from Dan to Beersheba. Elaine from Hawai’i brought the Macadamia nuts. Dale made sure we didn’t lose anybody. We never even lost Andy, whose motto must be: a picture is worth a thousand words and ten more minutes of everybody’s time. Betsey took a licking and kept on ticking, twisting her ankle and banging her leg up at Dan, but trudging on with grit and determination. Shelley never got her hair wet. Never. Kyle kept reminding us of the Scriptures and the Story. Kara showed us the kind of guts it takes to climb the Snake Path to Masada. Joe and Sara inspired us with their obvious love for each other and the Lord. Gary kept us laughing. Hans became everybody’s favorite fellow-tourist, within about two minutes of meeting him. Martha brightened the bus and every site with her gracious smile. Nanette showed extreme patience while we kept mispronouncing her name. DeAnn rode that camel as well as Kyle rides a horse. Gaye broke her foot the day before we left, but that boot didn’t slow her down at all; it just added a degree of difficulty to all her costume changes.

And Elaine was Elaine. As always, my dear ministry partner wisely and faithfully handled the schedules, the hotels, the keys, the tips, the luggage, the communion meal, the meetings, the brochure, the reservations, the COVID protocols, the questions, and the preacher. For ten years Elaine was at my side in Amarillo, keeping me from blowing my leg off, reminding me of names and dates, bailing me out of trouble, managing my impulsive behavior, and deserving so much more credit than she ever received. I miss her terribly and appreciate her very much. It was so much fun going to Israel with her again.







More than a couple of times, Anton told us that no tour group does more than we do in ten days. Kyle counted up at least 41 different sites we explored together, from Dan and Caesarea Philippi to En Gedi and Jerusalem and Jericho and Nazareth. We prayed at the Western Wall, recited the Apostles’ Creed in the Jordan River, sang at the Garden of Gethsemane, and ate more than our share of ice cream and shwarma,






Every paragraph of Holy Scripture contains geography, landscape, architecture, people, food, customs, dress, animals, agriculture, and ritual that serve to communicate the history and fact of our God and his activity in our world. And now we’ve been immersed in it – physically, emotionally, spiritually. We’ve explored the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes first-hand. We’ve embraced the story of our Lord’s faithful love as it swells and deepens to penetrate our hearts and souls in brand new ways.

And I can’t wait to go back.

We’re doing it again in November 2024. We’ll start taking reservations in October 2023.



Israel Eve

Finally! We really are – finally!  – going to Israel! After two-and-a-half years of COVID-related starts and stops, replanning and rescheduling, refunds and double-deposits, we are really heading back to the Holy Lands for the first time since 2018.

Elaine and I are taking a group of 26 this time: 15 of us from the Golf Course Road Church here in Midland, five from the Central church in Amarillo, and six other wonderful folks from Hawaii and California and Wichita Falls. This is my fifth trip to Israel and this time, for the first time, my wonderful wife Carrie-Anne is going with me. We’re also taking our youngest daughter Carley and I cannot wait to see the sites and share the experiences through them and with them during these eleven glorious days.

Of course, this means no cheeseburgers and no Tex-Mex until May 21. So after we took our PCR tests – three negatives – and filled out our Green Pass forms, we had our “last lunch” together today at Blue Sky and our “last supper” at Ajuuas.

From here on out it’s shawarma, schnitzel, and falafel in one of my favorite places in the whole world with some of my absolutely favorite people.



It Was Bound to Happen

For ten years now, Carley and I have played Ping Pong together every single week – sometimes multiple times per week, but always at least once, and always at least two games every time we play. We got the table in the summer of 2011 when Carley was twelve and I imagine we’ve played probably 1,200 or 1,300 games of Ping Pong. And I’ve never lost.

I’ve never let Carley win, probably, because my dad never let me win. My dad and I duked it out under the aluminum patio cover on the back porch of our family home about as often as Carley and I play – it was constant. I don’t remember ever not having a Ping Pong table. It started out in the garage when I was too little to play and would only be set up when we had company. Couples from church, Uncle Gerald and Aunt Alice – after dinner we always wound up in the garage playing Ping Pong. But sometime in the mid ’70s, when I was about ten or so, we added another four feet to the concrete patio, had the cover installed, and got a new Ping Pong table to go with it. My dad and I played almost every day and he never let me win.

And then, one evening, during the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school, under the glow of the yellow bug light on that back porch, I beat him. And it was a big deal. I don’t remember the score. But I remember celebrating very loudly. I remember yelling at the top of my lungs in great relief and tremendous joy. I remember running inside to tell my mom and my sisters. I remember feeling like I had really accomplished something really great. He did not let me win. He did not take it easy on me. I beat him one-on-one at his own game and it meant something. It was significant.

Carley’s never beaten me. She’s come close a half dozen times – I think we’ve gone to deuce once, maybe a couple of years ago. We play together as partners when my siblings and their families come to visit. But she’s never beaten me.

Until today.

It was bound to happen.

At about 1:20pm this afternoon, Carley had me down 15-10. Then she had me 19-16. Then she was up 20-18. I took the next two points on my serve to force the deuce. And then she got the next two points, on her serve, to take me down.

In victory, she did not disappoint. She was gone out of the room before I could even look up. “I am the champion!” she sang at the top of her lungs. “I am the champion, my friend!” It was more shouting than singing, through the kitchen, into the living room. “And I’ll keep on fighting, to the end!” Now it sounds like she’s coming back to the game room. “I am the champion! I am the champion!” I can hear her coming back down the hall. “No time for losers!” She synced up her song and her walk so that she re-entered the game room in time to point at me as she emphasized the word “losers.” Nice.

Carrie-Anne walked in. Well? She won? I was on my knees at my end of the table, still not quite believing what had just happened. Uh, yeah. She did. By this time, Carley was on the phone to Valerie, telling her middle sister about her victory. Whitney was beside herself with glee at my demise. The above picture was taken to commemorate the occasion.  And Carley left for work.

It was going to happen. Carley’s paid attention to improving her forehand over the past month and for the past couple of weeks she’s concentrated on her serve – both have improved significantly. I just wasn’t ready for it to happen today. But it has.

She’s a winner. And I’m a loser.



A Moving Weekend

We’re finally moved in to our new digs! Stanglin Manor is now firmly established on the very fancy sounding Castleford Road here in Midland. And while we are still very much living out of boxes, and might be for a while, our hearts are full of thanksgiving and love for the kindness and the sweet generosity of our church family at GCR and our new neighbors who are making this transition very easy and a lot of fun. We spent Friday just getting all the boxes into the garage and then all day Saturday getting those boxes to the rightful areas of the house – and attic!

Speaking of Saturday, we were all three thrilled to participate in KWO’s 12th annual Kick for Kenya 10K, 5K, and 1K run that starts and finishes in our parking lot at GCR. More than 400 good people of all ages and athletic stamina ran to raise over $50,000 for KWO’s work in feeding, equipping, and educating 2,700 widows and orphans in Nairobi. KWO just opened their 16th children’s home in Nairobi this past year and GCR is honored by God to be a partner in this great work. I was privileged to help welcome the runners to this important event and to pray over them before the race. And then we just watched and cheered them on. Most of our new friends at GCR rightly assumed I would not be running. But when I was asked a couple of times Saturday morning if I would be walking, I answered, “Yes. I’m walking from my truck to the breakfast burrito table and then back to my truck.”

Sunday morning at GCR we celebrated all God is doing in us and through us in Kenya with pictures and videos and an inspirational story from Tim, who just returned from a two week visit to Nairobi. Callie and Will blessed us with a dynamic reading from Ezekiel 34 in which our God promises to bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. And Iliana brought tears to our eyes and praise from our hearts with her powerful testimony and moving rendition of “Oceans.” A glorious day with our God and his people.






Then, after lunch, we came back together in the GCR parking lot to pass out food boxes to more than a hundred needy families in Midland through our great partnership with Mission Agape. It was really cool to distribute the Thanksgiving meals and the gift cards and the cookies to each of these deserving families. But the real joy came in praying over these good people and lifting up their specific and personal needs to our Father. What a sacred time that was. What a blessing that our God would deem us capable of acting as priests on behalf of these neighbors in Midland and the surrounding communities.






The weekend wrapped up last night the way most Sunday nights end at Stanglin Manor. Whitney and I dueled to the death over a hot backgammon board (she beat me 3-2) and I made popcorn. Yes, the first thing cooked in our new kitchen was my popcorn. And, yes, it felt like home.








Destin-ation Wedding

My sister Rhonda’s youngest son, Asa , got married to a beautiful young lady named Addie Saturday night on a beach in Destin, Florida. And I was filled with gratitude and joy to be the one officiating the ceremony. What a great honor to be asked to perform a marriage ceremony – any marriage ceremony! But to be asked by your nephew and his bride is a tremendous honor and privilege I’ll never forget.

I’m still not sure why a guy from Edmond, Oklahoma and a girl from Frisco, Texas have to go all the way to Florida to get married. But we were happy to make the trip. Rhonda rented a massive beach house two blocks from the ocean and we all stayed together for three days and three nights, hitting the beach when it wasn’t too cold, hanging out at the heated pool in the backyard, eating wonderful food, and playing games late into the night.








I had never preached a wedding on the beach before, certainly I’d never done one barefooted. But per Addie’s request, we all shook off our shoes Saturday evening and enjoyed a fabulous ceremony with a marvelous backdrop of an ocean sunset with all the scenery and sounds that go with it.

Addie and Asa, you two do love each other. That’s very clear. People who know you best say you’re proof that opposites attract. But what I see is that you balance each other so well. You really do complement each other so perfectly. You both put the other first. You protect each other and care for each other. You both have a sense of purpose together and you’re focused. You both love our Lord and are committed to his people. And I am just beside myself with anticipation over what God is going to do in you and through you together to his glory and praise.

Thank you for asking me to marry you two this weekend. I can’t describe how honored I feel. Be assured that I, and everyone on both sides of our families, will move heaven and earth to help you and support you and love you for as long as we live.

May the grace of God bless your marriage relationship and all your relationships. May the love of Christ crown your marriage with increasing joy and peace. And may the power of the Holy Spirit unite your hearts and your lives together forever.



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