Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

Last week I was looking back over some pictures trying to find a few to enlarge and frame for our house. I love photography and how you can capture a moment in time. These are some of my favorites from the last couple of years...

St. Mark's Basilica--Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy. (What an amazing city!)

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

I took this one in Florence, Italy

This is of an old church in Zadar, Croatia--another incredible city

The Coliseum in Rome

The Vatican--Rome

These last two are my favorites. The top is of a random green door to an old hotel in Malta.

City street in Malta

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


There've been a few nuggets over the past few days...

Recently I've had the sweetest series of bed time discussions with my 7 year old daughter Ella.
She was struggling with some things and I told her the other night..."Ella, God loves you. And you know what? He doesn't love you because you're mine...when He looks at you He says-'See that girl? I am CRAZY about her because she belongs to me.' He knows exactly how your brain works. He knows exactly how your heart is put together and how you think and every feeling you have and He's crazy about you. He knows what makes you tick. He knows what makes you mad. He loves you when you mess up. He loves you when you do great things. He loves you and feels jealous and protective of you. You are uniquely created and He loves every part--inside and out."

She beamed. Then she began asking questions like, "How can God be so many different places at once? How can He be in your heart, mommy's heart, my heart...? Is it sort of like a reflection? Like God's reflection in all of us?"

I took a second to gather my jaw off the ground and then I told her that was a very, VERY good question. I did my best to explain omnipresence and we talked a lot about the Holy Spirit. Very precious discussion.

Then Ella asked, "Daddy, how do we know the Bible is from God? I mean it's not like he just rained down Bibles on everyone."

Wow. I told her what I believe about it and about the Holy Spirit's involvement.

Ella said, "Daddy, how do you know when God is speaking to your heart?"

I told her that it's something that we work on our entire lives. Sometimes for me it means being still and meditating or dedicating time to listen or journal. Ultimately, the best teacher of how to hear God is God himself. We agreed to pray together every day that God would teach us how to hear His voice and listen for Him. Needless to say...I walked out of her room that night and went back to my bed and quietly sobbed. Precious, precious moments that last a lifetime.

I don't want my kids to think there's an answer for everything. There's not. I say, "I don't know" a LOT. We talk about stuff and agree to think about it pray about it. I think God works in that open space...much more than he does our black and white theological safety nets.

In other Thomas news, Sam got a Webkinz dinosaur for Christmas which he as now appropriately named "Dino"..."Dino Scott Thomas". Sam is a little bundle of joy. Somehow he wakes up every morning and springs out of a bed with his classic smile. WHOSE CHILD ARE YOU??

We had a major ZOE Group meeting yesterday. Visioning, future, trouble-shooting, relationship was a long day but needed and very valuable. We've all been on this journey together since 1996. That's a long time. God has blessed us and we pray that our vision and plans be lost in His will.

The ZOE team will be doing several worship weekends this year. If you're interested in booking us to come, please contact me at . So far we have Midland, Malibu, Athens Alabama, Houston, and Tyler on the books.

I haven't said it in a while, but I want you to know I'm thankful for you. Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading. I pray that today you would feel refreshed by the Lord's presence.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tears for Haiti

The reports and pictures coming in from Haiti are staggering and sobering. So many lives lost. So much destruction and pain. They are truly in need of compassion and prayers. Send money? YES! Send support and labor? YES! Weep with them? YES! Judge them? NO!!

Many Christian leaders have responded to Pat Robertson's insanity over the last 24 hours. It is senility at best...and at worst, well, downright despicable. Pat Robertson must have read a different gospel. However, I do appreciate the measured response that Don Miller gave in his widely read blog. I would encourage you to read it.

May God bless Haiti and lift up the broken and wounded by His power.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been my father's 77th birthday. My dad died 19 years ago last fall. His presence is still missed every single day. He was great at celebrating! His sense of humor, his warmth, and his authenticity made him a great dad, husband, elder, and principal.

Happy birthday, dad! We celebrate God's creation in you that left such a lasting impact.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Snowy Day

It has been a beautiful snowy weekend in Nashville. We don't see much snow here...and ironically, not nearly as much as we had in Texas.

While we were at the Batson's house Friday night I saw some pictures that Jill had taken of snow flakes on her black car. It was so inspired me. So yesterday I decided to experiment. I took some pics of snow on my car too.

As I was looking at them I noticed the amazing detail in God's creation so I zoomed in on a couple. What I saw blew my mind!

This is a REAL picture (enlarged) of a snow flake that had just fallen on my hood...before it had a chance to melt. Check out the artistry of God! INCREDIBLE! There is no photo shop trickery here. This exactly what it looked like when I zoomed in with my camera.

Here's another. Beautiful! My dad, who was an artist, loved cutting very intricate snow flakes. My mom and I have a few framed. He would have loved seeing these.

The kids had quite a day of sledding (even Cisco wanted in on the fun)

Bear had fun too!

Cisco has grown so much in two weeks. We're pretty sure he's going to be giant.

My girls

Maddie and Ella

Later in the afternoon yesterday we went over to the Batson's house. There is a HUGE steep street at the back of their neighborhood that is about 4-5 blocks long. It was such a great sledding hill. Pictured above are the Batson and Thomas kids ready to hit it.

Here we go!

Jill had a couple of sleds from her childhood that were so awesome...very, VERY fast!

Sam and Michael had fun too. Sam started off slow but he ended up becoming quite a dare devil!

Maddie gets going...and then Jill comes flying by.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Colt McCoy

Last night the Longhorns suffered a loss to Alabama in the National Championship game. I know so many of my friends who are Alabama fans are so excited. Congrats!

I was cheering for UT. (loved the UT/ Texas Tech game this year...another nail biter!) Colt McCoy who quarterbacks the Longhorns and I have many connections. His family has been in my life since way before I was born. His grandmother (Jan) and my mom were in the same sorority at ACU. Jan and Burl have been dear friends for years. His uncle Michael and I were roommates here in Nashville years ago. Michael has one of my favorite tenor voices ever. He was such an encouragement and mentor to me.

Colt's grandparents, his dad Brad, uncle Michael and aunt Amy used to travel around as the McCoy Family singers. I always loved hearing them and getting to sing on the same program with them through the years. That is one CLASS ACT kind of family.

The McCoy Family Singers (L-R) Brad (Colt's dad), Michael, Amy, Jan and Burl.

Colt, true to family form, showed his stuff last night. The speech he gave at the end of the game to the news interviewer was the real deal. That's how he is. That's how all of the McCoys are. They are in fact...well..the real McCoys. (sorry, couldn't resist that one.)

I did hurt for him. You could see the disappointment in his eyes. But, he cheered on his team and encouraged Gilbert as much as he could. What a crazy night for both of them.

Here's to an incredible college career for Colt and a bright sports and as a witness for Christ.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ella's Birthday Party

Ella had her birthday party at "Jump U." yesrterday with some of her buddies. She had such a great time! Here are some pics from the party...

Sydney, Ella, Natalie, and Maddie

Ella and Nonnie

Natalie, Sydney. Ella, Breanna, Maddie

Sam and Michael Batson--we call them "double trouble". They are like twins.

Jill Batson and Sheryl--I love that they posed underneath that sign on the wall...very fitting.

Ella on the "Spider" tower

Maddie dominates on air hockey

Maddie ande Sydney duke it out

Ella and me

Ella and her good friend, Lola


Ella and Natalie have been good buddies since the beginning of their Kindergarten year

Breanna and her icing lipstick

Sydney Williamson

After the party we had a family birthday dinner at Toyama. Kiki and Gracie were there too. Gracie was having a good ol' time. Love her smile!

This picture looks so much like Sheryl to me

After Toyama we went home and Ella got family gifts. Kiki gave her a cool cupcake maker and my mom gave her a "Baby Alive". Apparently, they are the new thing and exactly what Ella (who loves baby dolls) has been wanting. The doll...well...the doll poops. Yeah, and it talks. I think I had nightmares about baby Chucky last night. Ella was so excited to get it and the cupcake maker. But, as she has reminded me time and time again, the best gifts are of the heart. And those are the kind of gifts she has given us for 7 years.

God, please bless Ella and keep stoking the fire in her heart. Change the world through her love for you. Teach us all to love you as she does.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ella!

Tomorrow, January 4th, my Ella will turn 7 years old. Oh my goodness. Where has the time gone? She is so big!

Last week I told her that I would take her on a "daddy date" on Sunday for her birthday and that we could do anything she, ice cream, whatever. Her choice was to go to Lakeshore Retirement Home today to see the "old people". I went about 2 1/2 years ago to do a communion service there one Sunday afternoon and took Ella with me. She has never forgotten it. In fact, she has asked to go many times since. Today, it was her one wish.

So, after church she and I headed to Kroger where she picked out some very beautiful roses which she wanted to buy with money she had saved up. We took the roses and went to the 1pm service at Lakeshore. The Harpeth Hills Church of Christ youth group led the service today. I'm sure they wondered what we were doing there. Ella and I sat down before it began and Ella leaned over and whispered, "Can I go sit over there with those grandmas?" So, we went to the side where she plopped herself down on a couch between 2 older women. I sat in a chair near them. Ella helped turn the pages in the hymnal, she smiled, she sang.

After it was over Ella pulled out her roses and handed them out. Miss Margaret sitting next to her was one of the first to receive a rose. Margaret was a beautiful Southern lady. After Ella handed her the rose she told us that she had 3 daughters. One of them died last month. She told Ella how much it meant to her to have her sit next to her.

Ella and Miss Margaret

Ella's wish was one that blessed many people today. It's so like her. She has always had a special gift of encouragement and compassion. It seems to me to be God breathed and I consider myself one of those most encouraged today. Seeing her excitement, the thrill in her heart to be there and the gleam in her eye as she talked and ministered to those sweet people today really showed me the way of Jesus today. I am being taught the Kingdom of God from my 7 year old. What a treasure!

After the service she and I went to Cold Stone Creamery and had some yummy ice cream. I just kept looking at her thinking about all the things I hope for her. I also wondered how many wonderful things I will learn from this girl over the course of my life.

Last night we celebrated the New Year with our dear friends Grant and Jill Batson and their kids. We were again reminded of the true gift of friendship we have in this world. I snapped this pic of Grant as he worked on tuning Ella's new guitar. Grant makes guitars. One day maybe Ella will play a Batson guitar!

Happy New Year everyone! And Happy birthday, dear Ella!