Who knew the Cowboys season would be over before the Rangers’? How many points would the Giants have scored if they hadn’t had five turnovers? How long until Wade reminds us that, “Hey, it’s not like we haven’t won a single game!” I think a lockout/strike is the best thing Jerry Wayne can hope for. He may be trying to figure out how to make it happen today.
We spent right at 24 hours in Marble Falls this past weekend, helping the church family there celebrate their 65th anniversary and homecoming and grand opening of their brand new church building. And for most of those 24 hours, I was an emotional wreck. I was really surprised by my own reactions to being in that place with those people. It caught me off guard.
Carrie-Anne and I spent seven years in this place with these people when I was the News and Sports Director at KHLB from 1991-98. We went to football games together. We had babies together. We sang at funerals together. We rang in new years, we visited hospitals, we coached T-ball, we fished and fixed cars and worshiped God together. We survived a tornado together. Whitney and Valerie were both born into that church family. I was a deacon and led worship with that group of Christians. We prayed with the Clarks. We laughed with the Futrells. We painted Cathy Chrismon’s house. We roofed Dan’s houses. We went Christmas caroling. We taught VBS. Donna Preston helped us buy our first home on Hackberry Drive. From Bessie Ruth.
And when we left in 1998 for the greener pastures of sports talk radio on WHBQ in Memphis, Buck Burdett told me we’d be back.
I swore we wouldn’t.
But in 2005, needing a place to live and work while I received my Master’s Degree at Austin Grad, I called up Don Graves. And they welcomed us back with open arms. It wasn’t so much that they hired me part-time as it was they agreed to help support us as I studied. We moved right into Kyle and Marti’s rent house. And right back into that church family.
I was youth minister for a stretch. Worship leader. Preacher. Interim preacher. Bible class teacher. Men’s minister. Involvement minister. And I learned. And learned. And learned. I worked alongside Jim Gardner as he became the new preacher there. I watched Jimmy Mitchell pour his heart and soul into our kids. I sat at the feet of Jim Dobbs and benefitted greatly from his wisdom and experience and encouragement and love. During those 22 months, I learned as much in and with the Marble Falls church as I did at Austin Grad.
And now here we were again on Sunday. Back in Marble Falls. Back with these people who have shaped us and loved us and supported us and taken care of us.
I forget how much I really love them until I’m right in the big middle of them.
I’ve never hugged and been hugged so much in all my life as I was Sunday. The hugs just kept coming and coming and coming. Carrie-Anne and I truly felt loved. And appreciated. And valued. We felt like we really belonged. It felt — in a weird way that part of me hates to admit — like home.
How do you make it through “It Is Well With My Soul” in the middle of all that?
We love our church family in Marble Falls. And we pray for all of you God’s richest blessings of grace and peace.
I’ll try to spend the next couple of posts getting caught up on a variety of things. Again, thanks for your patience with the blog. It’s been a weird past couple of weeks. I still don’t have this thing totally where I want it. But we’re getting there.
Where were you when the Rangers won the pennant? We were in our living room, watching history unfold together as a family. The microfiber couches were cold since we’d all been standing since the beginning of the eighth inning. I couldn’t hardly concentrate during the ninth, I was so completely distracted by the losers behind home plate who were holding up that huge Texas flag — upside-down! I kept thinking surely somebody would notice and tell them to turn it right-side-up. I was upset that we would be watching the highlights of the last out for the rest of our lives and the Texas flag in the background was going to be upside-down. I was beside myself with the joy of anticipating the perfect poetic justice of Alex Rodriguez making that last out. What could possibly be better than A-Fraud swinging and missing to push the Rangers (it’s just him and 24 kids, remember?) into the World Series? How delicious! And then he actually struck out looking! Even better! Absolutely, wonderfully, deliriously better!
We exchanged high fives and hugs. Steve Fleming called Whitney to offer his congratulations. We grinned as the trophy was presented to Wash and Nolan and JD. We nodded with approval as Josh Hamilton collected the MVP award and, instead of talking about himself, talked about his teammates.
Then Whitney and Carley and I piled in the car to head out to Academy to get our official Rangers World Series T-shirts. We stood in line for just over an hour with hundreds and hundreds of other long-suffering Rangers fans who just couldn’t believe what was happening. It still didn’t seem real to any of us. We cheered and chanted as the line snaked through the parking lot and around the building. Horns were honked. We saw the Flemings and Brightwells and Drakes and even Wayne Steele. The girls saw a couple of their friends and teachers from school. Are the Rangers really in the World Series? They must be. That’s what my T-shirt says.
Saturday morning, Valerie and I left at 7:00 for the All-Region Middle School Choir auditions in Arlington. 7:00 Saturday night we got the email notifying us that she had made it! God has given Val a beautiful soprano voice and a desire to use it to his glory. And we couldn’t be happier or more proud.
Leaving town Saturday afternoon on the way to Marble Falls, we drove through the tornado on Loop 820. I knew something was weird. The sky looked ominous and there was an unusual amount of debris flying through the air. But it wasn’t until traffic stopped and we eventually crawled up to the twisted exit signs that we realized it was more severe than just a thunderstorm. We got past the jam, turned on the radio, and listened to Brad Barton talk about the tornado that was moving through Richland Hills and into Euless. Good gravy, we had driven right through it! Jennifer Gambill, our children’s minister who lives just four or five streets away, was just unpiling the mattresses and emerging from her closet when I called. Everything was fine.
There were clear skies yesterday afternoon when the high winds split a tree on Holiday Lane and pushed it on top of our van as I was driving to Richland High School to pick up Whitney. Carley was in the front seat with me. I was driving about 30 m.p.h., in the right lane, when I commented to Carley about how crazy windy it was. And just a second or two later, the tree blew over right on top of us. She screamed. I reached out to brace her. It was so loud. I thought her window had shattered. It was so weird. And unexpected. Who has a tree fall on top of their car while they’re driving?!? The window wasn’t broken. But the car is scratched up from the headlights to the rear window. And Carley’s heartbeat just now got back down to normal.
Finally, Carley’s elementary choir marched and performed in last night’s Richland High School Homecoming parade. We saw Lisa Clifton in the Chick-Fil-A truck with the cows. The creepy female Rebel mascot with the empty eyes. Several friends from church and school. And a bunch of homemade signs that declared allegiance to Richland High AND a nod to the Texas Rangers. It’s cool when the football team is giving the claw to the parade-watchers.