Today Ady and I had some free time and drove up to Huntington Beach. As we were getting out of the car I told her that MMA fighter Tito Ortiz was from there and that his nickname is the Hungtington Beach Bad Boy. No more than five minutes later we were walking on the boardwalk and I said, “Ady, that’s him! That’s Tito Ortiz!” “No way,” she said. He was in front of his white Rolls doing a photo shoot. During a break in the action we asked him for a pic and he obliged. Crazy! Other than that we had a nice time walking and talking. I love my wife!
Today Ady & I left to California for a week of meetings in California with Doug Fields & the Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry Mentors. Our first neat encounter was in Laguardia airport as we were walking to our gate. I spotted Arkansas Governor and recent candidate for President Mike Huckabee. No big crowds. No fan fare. He was just finishing up chatting with a couple, so we stopped by and introduced ourselves. Extremely personable man. Very interested in where we were from, where we were headed. When i mentioned that I was headed to Saddleback he told me that he went to college with Rick Warren in Texas and that they still speak regularly on the phone. He asked us to say “Hi” to Rick for him if we see him during our trip.
Today I went to WalMart to do a little shopping. Before doing anything else, I had to return an item at Customer Service. While in line a man and a small boy came in soaking wet from the torrential rain that was happening outside. A minute later the man’s wife or girlfriend came in with two more children, all dripping wet, clothes soaked. The mom asked her oldest son to get her some paper towels from the bathroom to which the boy replied in a sweet voice, “Sure mommy. Anything for you!” A moment later he returned with paper towels and she dried her face. After observing this family for a couple of minutes I heard, “Next,” so I went forward.
While doing my exchange the store employee was having problems with her computer. After a couple of pages and no reply, the line behind me had grown and people were getting anxious. They asked if the Money Gram was working to which she responded that she did not know. The lady from the family I was observing before asked her husband or boyfriend if he wanted to just leave them and catch the bus so he wouldn’t miss work, but he decided to stay with his family and would apparently suffer the consequences. Finally the store employee made another call and announced that the system was down and would not be up anytime soon. The entire line left muttering under their breath in frustration. I observed this family – obviously frustrated, but more so, disappointed. They had obviously worked hard to get to the store for no other purpose than to cash in their Money Gram. The employee gave me my exchange and I was on my way. My heart broke for this family, but what could I do?
After getting my shopping done and paying, I exited the store. On my way out I noticed this family by the vending machines peering out the window in obvious disappointment and apparently waiting for the next bus. The mom and dad were doing their best to be upbeat and keep their children entertained. As I walked past them, the Lord told me to go back. I turned around and approached them asking where they were trying to go. “To the DMV to catch the bus,” the man said. “C’mon,” I said, “I’ll give you a ride.” Shock and smiles overwhelmed them. “Are you serious?” the man asked. I assured them I was. I led them to my van, put the back seat up and loaded everybody in.
As we were driving out of the parking lot, the man told me that after leaving the store they had tried to cross the major road in the pouring rain to catch the bus, but just as they were about to the bus, the driver pulled away leaving them behind. They had to walk the 100-yeards or so back through the rain to the store to wait for the next one. When I inquired about their ordeal at the store, the woman told me that she had tried to cash in the Money Gram the previous night but was told she would have to come back the next day as they could not cash it on the same day it was issued. So, this morning, she loaded up the family, took the bus, and trudged through the downpour, only to be told that the system was down. When I asked where they lived, they said that they were from Central Islip, but that their landlord who was charging them $1,500 a month was not fixing necessary things around the house. Then yesterday, a gas leak in the place they were renting had forced them to move out. The government put them in some housing in Medford, quite a distance away. This had also forced them to pull their kids out of school until a taxi or bus can be arranged to pick them up and get them there.
A few minutes later we were at the DMV. They couldn’t stop thanking me for the ride. I told them it was my privilege. When I pushed the button to open the automated side doors on my van, the kids were going nuts saying my car was so cool. It was like they had gotten a ride in a space ship! I was so humbled by this. In our little middle- to upper-class world, my van is less than average, and it is our only vehicle – also an anomaly in our context. Yet, the Lord has blessed us so abundantly if we’re honest, and I was glad to just be able to do a little something out of gratefulness to God for His provision and to show care for my fellow-man.
Aside from a brief mention that I worked for a church, I pray that my life and this simple act of kindness pointed them toward the love of Jesus. May the Lord speak to and provide for this precious family who is struggling. I think the man’s name was Lance. Pray for them.
Long-time Christian recording artist Ray Boltz has come out of the closet and announced that he is gay. Let’s not throw stones; let’s just pray. Here’s a full article: http://christianmusic.about.com/od/editorial1/a/rayboltzcomesou.htm
Ever do dumb stuff? Say dumb things? It’s kinda my thing. I’m getting better at not doing it as much, but I think sometimes God lets me do it to keep me humble. A few weeks ago at church I was doing the announcements (which is pretty much the youth pastor’s sermon (lol)). I decided to use a line from a movie which I find very funny, but which makes no sense and confuses people who have no reference point – which pertaining to this movie, in our church is probably almost everybody. I forgot to consider that second part, and when I said the line hardly anyone laughed and I got some glazed and dazed looks. I just finished my announcements, prayed for the offering, and went off to my class. I was hoping it wouldn’t come up again and just tried to move on putting it behind me. Over a week passed and nobody mentioned it, so I thought I was good. But in staff meeting today I made another one of those funny-in-my-own-mind statements and it triggered a reminder in my pastor’s head who said, “That’s kinda like that thing you said in church last week. Where were you going with that?” Crap! I didn’t bother trying to explain it, leaving it at the fact that it was funny to me but I probably should have just kept it to myself. Oh well. I think of a statement I heard somewhere recently: Bringing up the past only muddies your future. Just moving on. Trying to live and learn. Thank You Jesus for your grace through which I can continue on.
We are collecting diapers this Wednesday to bless a 25 year old mother in our community who has a 1 year-old daughter and is fighting leukemia. Pamper Cruisers (for girl) 5-6. (You can also provide new toys for a 1-year old girl if you would like. Her birthday is in October.) Also collecting for The Care Center – all sizes, especially 4-5 for boys and girls. We want to fill our stage Wednesday night. So, buy at least one package, and tell your friends to bring a package as well. Let’s show people God’s love in this tangible way!
Hi Guys! Check out this video written, produced, and based on our family friend Ryan who worked with me during my first year of youth ministry. He is also the voice singing on the video. An amazing talent spared from abortion, given hope and love through adoption.