Category: Whitney (page 2 of 9)

23 Skidoo!

WhitBlueEyesShe got her deep blue eyes from her great grandmother. She got her tiny nose and tiny ears from her mom. Her love for game shows and weather casts comes from her grandpa. Her enthusiasm for life is fueled by her many friends. Her passion for sports and her surprising talent for trash-talking is all from her dad. Her fashion sense is continually being shaped by her sisters. Her double-jointed fingers, her obsession with time and schedules, and her uncontrollable laughing? We don’t know where that came from.

Whitney&DadHer sweet spirit, though, comes from her Lord. Her heart, that seeks first to serve others, that is acutely attuned to the needs of others, comes from her Savior who came not to be served but to serve. Loading and unloading the dishwasher almost every day, helping Mary and Sara and our children’s ministry here at Central every week, occasionally bringing the ministers our favorite flavored iced teas, just doing whatever needs to be done — that’s from Christ Jesus. Her optimism, her faith that everything’s going to work out, her trust that she and those around her are going to be OK, comes from God the Father Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth who created her. So laid back and unflappable, so committed to seeing only the very best in people, so dedicated to giving every person the benefit of the doubt — that’s from our God. Her compassion for those who are hurting, her desire to comfort and heal, comes from God’s Spirit who dwells inside her. She rejoices with those who rejoice and mourns with those who mourn, she hugs the hurting and consoles those in pain, she sympathizes with the less fortunate and is truly happy when good things happen to other people — that comes from the Helper, the Comforter.

WhitneySeniorBleacherOur oldest daughter, Whitney Leigh-Anne, turns 23 today. She is a marvelous gift and a tremendous source of joy for her parents and her family and a great blessing to everyone who knows her. We praise God for Whitney, for the countless ways she reflects the glory of our God and for the myriad ways God works through her to touch others. She’s special. Truly unique. Whit-Pit is one of a kind.

Happy Birthday, sweetie. We love you dearly. And we thank God for you daily.


Double Deuce for Whit-Pit

If you’ve met our oldest daughter, Whitney, then you already like her. You like her smile, her good manners, her willingness to serve, her desire to make others happy, and her warmth. You really like that about Whitney.

If you’ve spent any time with her at all, then you already love her. You love her laugh, her bright outlook on life, her gullibility, her passion for her favorite things and favorite people, her silly trash-talk, her fierce loyalty, and her hugs that last for twelve days. It takes about six minutes with her to experience all of that. You already love that about Whitney.

If you are Whitney’s dad…

…well, let me tell you. If you are Whitney’s dad, there’s so much more to love about her that not everybody knows.

I love how hard Whitney tries to do things right. Whether it’s tying her shoes and hitting a baseball as a little girl or learning to drive a car or sack groceries as a young lady, Whitney wants instruction and practice. She focuses on doing things with excellence, doing things the right way. She’s patient, she’s determined, she’s committed. And I love that.

I love Whitney’s optimism and positive disposition in the middle of pain and disappointment. Our oldest girl has suffered plenty of both in her life. You probably already know a little about the meningitis and the surgeries and the results of that time in her childhood that still impact her today. You know about the hearing aids and fine motor skill limitations and balance issues. You haven’t seen her the day before a surgery or the night before a doctor’s appointment or the hours leading up to an entrance exam or a job interview. I have. Everything’s upbeat. Everything’s positive. Everything’s going to work out fine. And then, because things don’t always work out just fine, the bounce-back. Whitney’s great gift is her bounce-back. Yes, she can wallow in disappointment and heartbreak — for about ten minutes. And then it’s on to the next thing with faith and trust and great joy. Unabashed joy. And I love that about Whitney.

And I really love what God is doing with our daughter and, more surprisingly, through our daughter. Whitney shocks us quite often with her perception of what’s happening around us. She can lead a prayer for someone, as she did this past Sunday night during our small group, that penetrates to the very soul of what’s going on inside that person. Things few of us would have remembered, things few of us would ever say out loud, Whitney remembers and, somehow, ties it all together, and blesses in the name of Jesus. I think God puts Whitney in people’s lives on purpose in order to bless them. It seems to me that the people in Whitney’s life need her as much as she needs them, the people hugging Whitney need those hugs as much as she does. God uses Whitney to bless others. She seems to be increasingly aware of it. She’s paying attention more and articulating more what God is up to in this world and how she’s actually in on it. And I love that.

Whitney is 22-years-old today. And God put her in my life in order to bless me.

I love you, blue-eyed angel. Happy Birthday.


Little Blue Stars

We need to probably revisit the policy here at Central that gives all the ministers and administrative assistants keyed access to all the offices.

I walked in to my study early Saturday morning to discover that the whole room had been desecrated with the metallic blue and silver of Jerry Wayne’s Dallas Cowboys. Blue streamers and silver stars criss-crossing the ceiling, blue plastic on the floors and the chairs, Cowboys pom poms on the printer, little tiny blue stars glitter in my chair and on my phone and SPRINKLED ALL OVER MY STUDY BIBLE! A few dozen balloons, a pair of Cowboys slippers with a funny note, and a large posterboard declaring my allegiance to the football team in Arlington.

Now, I can appreciate a clever prank. I love a good joke. The more creative and surprising, the better. And this one was pretty good. What topped it off, though, and made it almost borderline genius were the dozens and dozens of little pictures of my head taped to all the pictures of the Cowboys players on the walls. These perpetrators were not content to just paste my face to my existing décor. They came in with their own doctored up photos and plastered them all over the walls, too. Some of these were downright hilarious. A couple of them were almost creepy. But it was all really, really funny Saturday morning.











However, I am now finding little tiny blue stars everywhere. Everywhere. I thought I had cleaned all of them off my phone. But at 1:45 this afternoon, fifteen minutes before Ralph Hill’s funeral in the chapel, I’m leaving a meeting in Greg’s office when Mary starts laughing and pointing at my left ear. A little blue glitter star right there in my ear! I’m glad she caught it before the funeral; I’m not sure how I would have explained that. Knowing one of the pranksters and her style, I’m certain I’ll be finding little pictures of my face and little blue stars in weird places in this office for the next several months.











Hannah, Aleisha, and Whitney: Congratulations. Well played. Very good. But, I’m on to you. Your day is coming. Maybe not this week. Maybe not this month. But your day is coming.

Now, how do I get this tiny blue star out of the USB port on this laptop?



The Whitster is 21

I love you every day, girl;
always on my mind.
One thing I can say, girl,
I love you all the time.

It was the first song I ever sang to you, Whitney. Holding you in my left arm, holding that little oxygen tube up to your tiny little nose with my right hand, marveling at your thick dark hair, worried a little bit about your purple hands and feet, and looking square into your newborn blue-blue-blue-blue eyes, I sang to you Eight Days a Week. Twenty-one years ago today. Or, tonight, I should say; you took a good long while getting here.

Oxygen tubes. Surgeries. Set backs. Physical therapy. Tutoring. More surgeries. Crutches. Wheelchairs. Casts. Disappointments. Surgeries. My word, we’ve spent a lot of time together in hospital rooms and doctors’ offices. I remember a lot of it. It’s been painful, I know. But I treasure in my heart your optimistic outlook and your positive attitude through every single adventure. You were ten or eleven years old when you and I had a fairly serious talk while sitting on the curb outside our house in Arlington. There’s no way you remember this. We talked together about how God is using you, how he’s proud of you, how he teaches all of us how to be better people through you and what you’re enduring. We talked about how his Spirit is inside you, helping you overcome the things that cause you so much trouble. I guess I was doing all the talking and you were listening. I wanted to encourage you. I wanted to inspire you. I wanted so desperately to help. And you looked at me with that little dimpled grin and those blue eyes sparkling in the late afternoon summer sun and said, “I know. I’m OK.”

You always say that. “I’m OK.”

No, you’re way more than OK. You’re wonderfully amazing, Whitney. You really are. You’ve never let anything ever get you down. Ever. Oh, yeah, you have your meltdowns every now and then. They’re rare, but you’ve wigged out a few times. And then the next day it’s like nothing at all happened. Your optimism is most seen by others in the precious ways you think every spring that the Rangers are going to go 162-0, every winter that the Mavericks are going to win every night, and every summer that the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl. You never give up on your teams. And you never give up on yourself or on the people around you. You are faithful and loyal, Whitney; just like our Lord. You never give up, Whitney; just like our Lord. You keep trying, you keep pushing, you endure, and you overcome; just like Jesus.

I am so proud of you. And so blessed by God to know you and to be taught by you. I see God in you. And, wow, that’s really cool.

Of course, these are not the only things I appreciate about you, Whit. I appreciate that you beat me about half the time we play Backgammon and, when I lose, you make sure I know I lost. I appreciate your fanaticism for sports and the way you and I share special games. The way you still follow me around the house. The important ways you interact with my friends. Your supreme organizational skills and the fact that you make up your bed every single morning. Your diligence in your job. The volunteer work you do at Central. Your unbridled and barely contained enthusiasm for whatever is happening right now in this place at this very moment.

Are you really 21 today?

I love you, Whitney. Happy Birthday. May our gracious God continue to bless you richly with his merciful outpouring of peace and joy. And may all who know you be blessed by that same peace and joy.


An Intergenerational Twist on Missions Month

We’re into the final week of our annual Missions Month here at Central, a month in which we focus all of our collective energies and efforts toward our many foreign missions endeavors. The month culminates with a special offering this coming Sunday — our goal, to raise $250,000 to fund and expand current and brand new missions programs. I’m really proud of our whole church family for the way they’ve embraced the idea. Our people are having garage sales, selling homemade quilts and hot sauce, sacrificing massages and manicures, giving up coffees and restaurants in order to meet the mark. The enthusiasm has been tremendous, the excitement level has been high all month, and I think we’re ready to give.

Perhaps most impressive has been the way our teenagers here have really jumped in to the whole raising-money thing. We challenged the kids to use their own talents and gifts to raise their own money to give on the 27th. And they have. My goodness, they have. Our middle school and high school students are making and selling bracelets and bookmarks, they’re baking and selling cookies and cakes. Some of the more creative ones are pooling their imaginations and abilities and working together to raise all kinds of money.







We gave the kids a thirty minute opportunity between our Bible classes and worship assembly this past Sunday to display and sell their wares, and it was a giant hit! The concourse around our worship center was jam packed with hundreds of folks crowding around tables and booths to buy the goodies and encourage the young people. There were typical brownies and pies, donuts and Chex mixes. But there were also a few unorthodox offerings. One of the Huddle groups was taking dollar bills as “votes” to determine who gets to throw a pie into the face of which minister at next week’s Fall Festival. I was only a little surprised when I rounded the corner to find Carrie-Anne and all three of our daughters stuffing my “ballot box” with their entries. Good grief, I think they had each asked me for dollar bills before the morning began and here they were helping set me up for whipped cream in my face and cherry pie filling in my ears! Josh Dowell volunteered to be soaked (and frozen!) with water guns and wet sponges for a dollar a pop (I barely missed him on all three of my throws). And one of the Muddle groups raised over a thousand dollars raffling off a really nice Bible.







It was a lot of fun. There was much laughter and fellowship, most everybody was hopped up on sugar by the time our worship assembly began, and our youth groups raised over two thousand dollars for Missions Sunday. But way more important than that, I believe our teens were encouraged and affirmed in critical and formational ways by our church family.

Our kids were truly engaged in something the whole church was doing, and they were enthusiastically supported in cheerful and tangible ways. I think every teenager sold out of everything he or she had brought to sell. And they were all hugged and patted on the back and encouraged the whole morning. That’s important, right? It’s everything! Figuring out ways to mix and mingle our older people with our younger people, being intentional about making our teens an important part of our church family, expressing our belief in them and our gratitude for their efforts — it all plays an invaluable role in passing on the Christian faith.









Now, more than ever, it is paramount that we don’t do anything in our churches without planning ways to get our young people in the middle of it. It’s not going to happen naturally. It’s not anybody’s default. And it’s not easy. It takes hard work and determination to pull this stuff off. But the benefits to the entire congregation in relationship and trust are incalculable.


Whitney has reminded me on several occasions that I have not yet posted a picture of her with her new car. Yes, she scrimped and saved her grocery-sacking money and purchased a 2006 Monte Carlo a couple of weeks ago. Seven years old, only 44,000 miles, and clean as a whistle. Sun roof and automatic everything. It’s a pretty sweet ride; I’m not sure she’s cool enough to be driving this thing.



Savior of the World

“We know that this man really is the Savior of the world!” ~John 4:42

After just a couple of hours with Jesus, the Samaritan woman at the well knew it. After just two days with him, the villagers of Sychar proclaimed it. The rarest of biblical titles for our King was declared unashamedly by the socially marginalized, the religious outcasts, the “sinners.”

How did they know? What did they experience that led them to this bold confession?

Jesus had purposefully put himself at great risk by going through Samaria in order to find this woman. He had crossed every barrier and cleared every obstacle; he had blown past the social and cultural walls, the political and economic hurdles, the religious and gender boundaries to reach this lonely and forgotten soul. He had refused to be bogged down in religious debate and questions of worship, instead focusing on his relationship with her. And he had exposed her great sin against God at high noon in the town square — and graciously and powerfully forgiven her.

Without partiality, without prejudice, without compromise, Jesus is the true light who goes into the darkness to rescue the whole world. The scars you’ve suffered, the fences you’ve erected, the sins you’ve committed — none of this registers as even a speed bump to the Savior of the World.

Once you realize it, how do you respond? Because you have to respond. Jesus is not going away. He sat down on the edge of the well, an unavoidable obstacle to the Samaritan woman. And to you. The woman, Scripture says dropped her jar, she left the well, and ran back into town to tell everyone about the Messiah. The town sleaze had become a Gospel preacher!

How do you respond to the Savior of the World?


As part of our “Gifted 2 Go” series here at Central, our oldest daughter, Whitney, and I wound up with almost twenty others at Brock’s Laundry last night, about two blocks west of our church building. Armed with $300 dollars in quarters, our task was to pay for everybody’s washers and dryers for two hours. There are 25 dryers along the back wall at Brock’s and 50 washing machines arranged in the middle. And we had all 75 of those things spinning until after 8:30 last night. We met young families and single moms, one college-aged kid and a couple of older folks. We packed and unpacked machines, folded clothes into laundry baskets and cardboard boxes, playfully fighting over the limited number of dryers and laughing loudly together as we took over Brock’s and made it the center of attention at Washington and 14th.

We met John, who I think used to have some ties to Central but refused to elaborate. We visited with Berto and his wife and held their precious seven-month-old daughter, Leah, while they switched out washers and dryers. We talked to Tiffany who admitted to hating Amarillo and wanting to move to San Antonio to be closer to an aunt. Justin and Mallory had just had the back glass and side window of their car blown out by gunfire Monday night. Miranda wouldn’t stop thanking us. Another woman there, almost in tears, told Shelly that for the first time in more than a year, she and her husband were now going to be able to do laundry and put gas in his truck during the same week. A young man named Matthew surveyed the room while his jeans and T-shirts cycled and commented to Myrl, “Y’all must have an awesome church.” To which Myrl replied, “Well, we have an awesome God!”











A block away, Lon and Jeff and their crew washed almost twenty cars while Bob and his group changed oil a block south in another fifteen or twenty vehicles.

At 9:00 last night, as we were loading up the leftover sodas and water bottles in the laundromat parking lot, I turned to Shelley and said, “That sure beats a boring Wednesday night Bible class, huh?” Shelly said, “Yes, sir! Not that there’s anything wrong with our Bible classes, but THIS is what we’re supposed to be doing!”

We’re making inroads into our community. Slowly but surely, steady and purposefully, we’re meeting our neighbors and blessing them with the love and grace of our Lord. We’re seeking relationship. We’re meeting people where they are. We’re giving the cup of water, the handful of quarters, in the name of our King. And trusting him to use us to his eternal glory and praise.



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