Panama Update

Just a quick update. Sunday's flights had to be rerouted due to weather in Atlanta. This caused us to run late so our luggage didn't make it to Panama. I had 1 shirt and 1 pair of underwear in my carry-on. We were hoping for our luggage to arrive last night, but it didn't. Many of our supplies for projects we were going to work on were in our luggage so now we're doing some serious improvising! All in all everyone's in good spirits. Unfortunately, I traveled in jeans. I may end up cutting them up for some relief from the heat. Pray for all of us - we're going to need it. Everyday without our essentials, increases the stress level just a touch. But despite our circumstances, God is blessing and using us. We had a great teen fellowship with the Panamanians last night. I got to joke around with some of the teens I met when I was here in January. God is good - all the time!!

Jamie & Kids: I was unable to check email for some reason. I haven't had a chance to purchase a phone card yet. I'll call asap. I miss and love you guys. Respond to this if you need to get a message to me. Kiss each other for me! Mollie, quit bossing your brother around. Isaiah, quit pestering your sister. Isla, quit thinking about quantum physics. Jamie, relax. I love you guys.



I'm heading out on a mission trip to Panama early tomorrow. I'll be gone just over a week. I doubt I'll get the opportunity to blog, but who knows. Hope to share lots of great pics and stories with everybody upon my return.


Lovin' the Movies

I've seen some great movies lately. Jamie and I watched the new Harry Potter flick again last night on our date night. Today we took the kids to see The Simpsons Movie. It was excellent! Very funny. The animation was a little better than the weekly series, but overall it had the same great feel of the genius that is The Simpsons. I've said it before, and I honestly believe it, The Simpsons is probably the greatest comedy series EVER on TV. The writing has been consistently good for 19 years - no other show can say that.

I finally saw Little Miss Sunshine a few days ago, too. Another great movie. You should definitely rent this one if you haven't seen it. It was funny and gut-wrenching all at the same time. There were several times I was a little weepy during the movie, but the ending had me lauging harder than I've laughed in a long while. Some language issues and some illicit drug use, but the story of this beautiful little girl blows all that stuff away.

I am also super-excited that production has finally started for the new Indiana Jones movie. It's set to release Memorial Day 2008. They've set up a great website at indianajones.com where you can keep track of the progress through photos, news, and videos. It's worth going to the home page just to let that theme music get you all amped up! Karen Allen, Indy's love interest in Raiders..., is back for this movie and she looks unbelievable! That movie came out over 20 years ago and she doesn't look a day older. Anyway, can't wait! Let me know what great movies you all have seen recently.


Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Review

I'll try to review this book without giving anything away. I have been looking forward to reading this book since I read the first book back in 2000. And now that it has finally released and I've read it, I feel a little sad about it. I know it might sound cheesy, but Harry Potter came to me at a time in my life when I was going through a pretty serious depression. The books (the second one had just released at the time) gave me a bit of a bright spot in my life when I was having a hard time finding one. It's always been frustrating for me to watch some overly-conservative Christians attack the books, because I think they're brilliant and loads of fun to read. They sparked a love/obsession for chilren's books in me that lasted several years. Some of the best literature being written today is being written for a 10-12 year old audience. You should seriously check out Rowling's Potter books if you never have. They're great food for your inner child!

Deathly Hallows is far and away the best of the seven Potter books. Almost every other chapter has the excitement of the last couple of chapters of all the other books. It's intense, funny, sad, and a remarkable story. The ending was not a disappointment. It felt like it ended the way it should. In fact, the ending was so good, I've gone back and re-read the last chapter three times. I seriously don't have a negative criticism for this book. It was absolutely perfect. My only regret is that there will be no more Harry Potter books to look forward to. READ THIS BOOK (and the other six, too)!


Harry Potter and the Wobbly Canoe

We had a great day yesterday. I took some teens from the youth group floating down the Niangua River. It was a perfect day for it - not too hot, a little overcast. One of the few perks of being the child of a youth pastor is that occasionally Dad takes you along for teen events that no other kids get to go to. So yesterday I took Mollie and Isaiah along and they had a blast. It was their first float trip. Isaiah was with me and we maneuvered the river like old pros. Mollie, on the other hand, was with a 7th grade girl who had never floated before. They spent most of the day stuck or banging into every rock, tree, stump, or other canoe on the river. But they had a great time - lots of screaming and laughing. It was about 7 miles worth of floating and it took us about 5 hours.

Last night we grilled brauts and played Bohnanza with our friends, Jay & Naomi Burns. It was a good time. Bohnanza is a German-made bean-trading card game that Micah and Becky Derby taught us. Lots of fun and you can purchase it on Amazon.

Then at the crack of midnight, Isaiah and I were standing in line at Wal-Mart to purchase the new Harry Potter book! There were about 200 people in line and they gave out posters, bookmarks, and wristbands. I actually chose to go there because I thought there would be less of a line than at our local bookstore. I was wrong. But I'm glad I went, because the cover price on that hefty book was $35 and Wal-Mart sold it for $18. Wal-Mart - Always Low Prices - Always.


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

I read a great leadership book today - The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. I know I'm probably one of the last people who hadn't read this, but I finally got around to it today and it was great! I love the leadership books on the market that start off with a leadership fable and then develop the principles laid out in the story. Lencioni's books are of this sort. I think it makes them highly readable. I look forward to reading his other leadership books.

Without going into too much detail, the five dysfunctions are 1) absence of trust, 2) fear of conflict, 3) lack of commitment, 4) avoidance of accountability, and 5) inattention to results. I love the topic of teamwork. Very few organisations do it well. But when it's good, it's awesome.

Death of a Princess

There's been a lot of programming on the telly lately regarding the death of Princess Diana. This year marks the 10th anniversary of it. There are a handful of events that have happened in my lifetime that I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I remember walking home from school when another kid ran by and screamed something about President Reagan being shot. I was walking up the steps at Houston Jr. High when some kids passed and told me the Challenger exploded. Of course, we all remember where we were on 9/11. I have a similar feeling about Princess Di's death, but for different reasons.

I wasn't a huge fan of Di's. Her life didn't impact me in any particular way. (But I do remember my brother and I sleeping on my Grandma & Grandpa Myers' bedroom floor so they could wake us up early and watch her Royal Wedding.) The reason Di's death stuck with me had very little to do with her.

I had transitioned out of the Army and had gone back to Hillsdale College to finish my degree. Jamie and I were living in a tiny house in Moore, OK. Mollie had just been born a few months earlier. I was working an evening job delivering pizza for Pizza Hut in a not-so-great area of OKC. I remember very specifically driving a pizza somewhere with my windows down. The DJ on the radio said something to the effect of, "Sad news, folks. Tonight a princess has died." The words were no sooner out of his mouth when I pulled up to a four-way stop and a teenage prostitute walked to my window and leaned in and propositioned me. The irony hit me immediately and I spent the remainder of that delivery fighting back tears. More than one princess had been lost that night.

I've had one princess for 10 years now and have just been given the gift of another. The thing that keeps me up at night is a fear that I will do something as a dad that will send one of my princess's looking for love in the wrong place. Study after study has shown that a father's relationship with his daughter has a very direct impact on her future dating and sexual decisions.

I tell guys this all the time and now seems like a good time to say it again. One of your primary responsibilities as a father of a daughter is to romance her. If you're not dating your daughter, somebody else will. You should be her knight in shining armor. You need to make her laugh, hug and kiss her, hold her hand, take her on dates regularly, and teach her by example what kind of man she needs to look for one day.

I'm a typical father. I am probably too tough on my kids a lot of times - in fact, I can be a real jerk. But I try to make a conscious effort to drop all the macho b.s. and be what my daughter needs me to be. Some days I'm more successful than others.

Say a prayer for me today as I try to raise my princesses and I'll say one for you and yours, too.



This is a great little test to take. In case you've ever wondered.



Harry Potter & TOOTP Review

My family met about 5 other kids/teens from our church at our local theater last night at midnight for a sneak preview of the new Harry Potter movie. Before I review the movie let me say that, yes, I am a youth pastor who encourages people to read and watch Harry Potter. The books are absolutely fantastic and the movies are pretty great, too. I know there are a lot of Christians out there that strongly discourage this. They will say that it is Satanic or demonic or whatever. This is simply not true. In fact, I have never met a person who makes these statements that has actually read the books. I'm sure there are some out there, but I have been reading and discussing these books for almost 9 years now and haven't met even one. Some Christians will say that it promotes witchcraft or wicca. But the same Christians will embrace movies/books like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Wizard of Oz and these have the same elements. They will say Harry routinely breaks the rules and sees no consequences for doing so. This is sometimes (but not always) true, but the same people would have no problem letting their children watch The Little Mermaid where the moral of the story is "if you disobey your parents you will find love and become a princess". These are harmless works of fantasy/fiction. If a parent does the work of a parent and teaches their kid to distinguish between fact and fiction and wordly and Godly values, then the stories should be able to be enjoyed by the whole family. I will, however, add one caviat. The movies are getting progressively scarier and you may not want to show them to really young children.

The Order of the Phoenix was a great movie. It kept me on the edge of my seat. It was humorous. It was really dark and creepy (always a plus). My only complaint is that this movie more than any of the others will be hard to follow if you haven't read the book. They turned an 870 page book into a 2 hours and 10 minute movie. There were so many wonderful plot points and comedic moments that were left out. The movie moved a little too fast in order to keep the time down. But it was still good. Go see it if you get the chance.


God & Country 2007

Apologies for going so long without posting. We have been extremely busy, though, preparing for our 5th Annual God & Country Celebration. I posted about this event last year when we had 3,000 in attendance. We were bowled over by that number a year ago. Well, after lots of hours and hard work by many people in our church we had our G&C Celebration this last Sunday night. THERE WERE ABOUT 12,000 PEOPLE THERE!!! God has just blessed us so much with this event. We had great music, great food, helicopters, skydivers, inflatable games, comedy, an Iraqi War hero as a guest speaker, a monster truck, the biggest fireworks show around and loads more.

To put this in perspective of why this is such a miracle: 1) Our church averages about 160 in attendance. 2) The population of Lebanon is just over 12,000 people (30,000 in our county). Basically our tiny church put on an outreach event and pretty much the entire city descended on it. G&C truly is the talk of the town this week. Everybody loved it!

I finally was able to leave the event a little after midnight on Sunday night. I was driving home alone in the church van and just started weeping. I'm sure it was partly from exhaustion. But mostly I just kept seeing these images of our church people in their orange G&C tshirts working their tails off and truly serving this community. I was just overwhelmed both by the gift that our people gave this city (everything was free, except food), and by the gift that God gave us by allowing us to help him share the Gospel on a truly amazing night. Our pastor, Joe Wilson, said it best yesterday when he said, "Now I know how the little boy with the sack lunch felt when Jesus took his little bit of food and fed thousands with it."

Here's a link to the front page headline story that the Lebanon Daily Record did about G&C. It's a great article. I'll try to find some better pics to post later. I didn't have time to take many.