Further Up, Further In Weblog

Chronicling the Journey of the Homeyers

Further Friendly Lent Thoughts February 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 10:43 am

By means of continuing some thoughts on this season of Lent I thought I would re-post some thoughts a friend of mine posted this morning.  Taylor Sandlin is pastor of Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo.  I have the absolute highest respect for Taylor as a Pastor and as a friend and I thought his thoughts on Lent, Fasting, and Faith were on point and worthy of sharing with you.  Check out his blog for further thoughts of Taylor. 

On Fasting

We are now a week into the Lenten season. Are you trying to give anything up? I am, although I admit I’ve failed about as much as I’ve succeeded. I’m more ok with that than you’d think, something I’ve written on before. Lent really is one of those things in which attention to the failures may be as helpful as resounding successes. The point of the season, after all, isn’t to accumulate gold stars for how well we’ve done but to practice recognizing our need for God.In fasting, a person temporarily refrains from something good in order to make room in one’s life for something better, namely, the moving of God’s Spirit. For instance, a person refrains from eating for a period of time in order to dedicate the time normally given to meals to the seeking of God in prayer. For a more modern twist, a person might choose to give up TV, Facebook, an hour of sleep, or some other activity for the very same reason – to fill that time up with the pursuit of God’s presence.The tradition of giving something up for Lent is connected to the spiritual discipline of fasting and can be traced back to the early days of the church. Bobby Gross, in his new book Living the Christian Year
, notes that initially Christians fasted on the Friday and Saturday before Easter as a way of remembering both Christ’s death and entombment. Later the fast stretched to include all of Holy Week. By the Council of Nicea in 325, some churches had extended such observances to a forty day period of fasting and repentance much like the modern Lenten season.

In the process of fasting, we are reminded of our dependence upon God and our freedom from dependence upon anything else. Most of the things in our life are fine in themselves (gifts from God, in fact), but it is amazing how we can become consumed by these things without even realizing it. We think we can live without them if we so choose, but of course we rarely get around to trying. Fasting during Lent is a time to try. Giving up a favorite activity or a favorite thing for Lent is a way of allowing one’s spirit to remember, I may enjoy these things, but I do not need them. They are not my master. God, alone, is my portion.

The inward discovery that all we need is God should lead to changes in outward behavior. Namely, we often should find ourselves becoming a more generous people. In giving something up we discover that we can also give something away. For example, if you have a Starbucks a day habit that you lay aside for forty days, that’s a decent chunk of change you’ll have come Easter morning. What will you choose to do with the extra money? One possibility is to give it away to those who need not practice fasting because their lives are already an exercise in need.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever – Psalm 73:25-26


GJ and Bebob Visit February 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 10:08 pm

A couple of weeks ago my mom and dad (GJ and Bebob) came to see the mancub and worship with us at Fellowship.  GJ has decided that she can’t go more than three weeks without seeing Brooks (and who can blame her?) and they are proving true to their word in these first seven months of Brooks’ life. 

Mom and Dad watched Brooks Saturday night so Kelley and I could double date with Logan and Courtney Stanley.  It was nice to have a night out!  We went to the Backstage Grill in Spicewood.  A year or two ago Texas Monthly named their steaks one of the top 20 (or 50, or something) best steaks in Texas.  They weren’t wrong!  It is a bit pricey, but worth it!  We had an excellent skillet cornbread with a crawfish dip for an appetizer.  I had a 12 oz Strip and Kelley had a specialized tenderloin item.  All of it was really superb.  As soon as we get another gift certificate we will return!  ha.  As always, it was a rich community experience with Logan and Courtney.  They truly have become great friends. 

After church on Sunday Mom and Dad wanted a new picture of them with Brooks.  I thought these turned out quite good. 

The scandal of the weekend was that Brooks seemed to prefer Bebob to GJ!  (gasp!)  My cousin, Amy, and I affectionately refer to mom as, “The Baby Whisperer.”  She is really good with babies and little kids and has a real gift for entertaining, teaching, and dealing with kids.  There are many times when no one can quiet a kid and mom is the one with the knack to soothe them.  It is what made her such a great teacher and currently makes her such a great school counselor. 

BUT, this weekend, Brooks had eyes for Bebob, which brought no small amount of pleasure to Bebob and consternation to GJ!  We will see if this trend continues.  Methinks (I truly enjoy using that phrase!) that GJ will come bearing gifts meant to woo Brooks…or simply leave Bebob at home if this continues. 

These are some pictures from later in the week while Brooks and I watched BU play one night.  He was SO in to the game that he wanted to wear his dad’s Baylor hat.  It didn’t quite fit, but was quite cute! 


While Daddy’s Away… February 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 10:18 pm

It seems to me that pastors love to ‘retreat’ and ‘have conference’ for the entire months of January and February.  Matt has been running off here and there for a night or two at a time for several weeks now to various pastoral events.  I am thankful that our church allows him time away to do these things.  He always returns refreshed and challenged by those he’s been around.  BUT I’m starting to think that Matt and Brooks already have some kind of little pact to keep me on my toes while he’s away.  Don’t these two look like they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves?

It all started when Matt was at the Truett Preacher’s conference in Waco.  I had just sent him some sweet pictures of Brooks in the bathtub so he could show him off to all his friends, when Brooks got an urge he couldn’t hold any longer.  He POOPED in the bathtub!!  He has never done that before and I didn’t know what to do!  I got him cleaned up as best I could and just went ahead and put him to bed.  By the time I returned to clean up the mess, we’ll just say it had spread so it was not an easy clean up. 

Matt is away again tonight and my dad came over unexpectedly to have dinner with us (on what happens to be Brooks’ 7 month birthday!) and while I was carrying Brooks from the changing table to put him in the tub, he PEED all over me!  Luckily I had help this time so I could get myself cleaned up.  But I mean seriously, how does this stuff happen?  I know it’s all normal parenthood experience, it just seems a little suspicious to me that these things keep happening while Matt is away. 

I can only imagine what shenanigans these two are going to get into as Brooks grows up.  I may have my hands full!  In the meantime, I’m doing my best to win him over to my side.  Watch out Daddy!!


Leah Meets Brooks! February 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 2:38 pm

 Guess who came to visit Marble Falls last weekend?  The Right Reverend Leah Grundset!  Brooks has been very excited about meeting Leah for some time now.  His initial reaction was one of confusion.  Brooks really likes to check people out before he warms up.  Seriously, he just looked at her with this face for nearly 5 minutes.  It was hilarious.

But, thankfully Leah won Brooks over with her natural charm and they were soon fast friends. 

In the midst of the excitement over meeting and hanging out with Leah, the mancub had a few very cute moments hanging out with dad.  It was very sweet.

Leah was able to hang out on Saturday and stay for worship with us on Sunday.  It was a bit intimidating preaching in front of the Right Reverend Grundset, but it was great to have her join us.  At lunch after church, Kelley and Leah were eating at the kitchen table and Brooks was REALLY enjoying playing peek-a-boo over the back of the couch at them. 

For the rest of our friends who haven’t had a chance to meet Brooks yet or haven’t been able to see him in some time, Brooks is expectantly waiting your visit! 

Kelley is taking over this post now!  It was fantastic having Leah visit.  She and I realized during her visit that we’ve known each other for 10 years which is longer than I’ve known Matt!  We celebrated by going out to see Valentine’s Day and doing a little shopping on Sunday afternoon.  Leah lives in Washinton D.C. so we don’t get a chance to see her too often.  She swung through Marble Falls for a quick visit last June to see me with my baby belly. 

I was reminded while she was here what a blessing it is to have friends like Leah who, even though we don’t see each other much, is so easy to fall back into step just like we saw each other every day.  We’ve known each other for lots of seasons in life and it was great to get to share a new experience with her as our family grows!


Ash Wednesday February 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 11:49 am
I wrote this following post in an email to Fellowship this morning.  We do not yet celebrate the fullness of the Lenten Season at Fellowship, but I feel it is extremely important to expose those involved in our family to the riches that this season offers. 
Being a new father has brought new meaning to Ash Wednesday as I have contemplate the words of this morning, “Remember, O Man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 
This morning the mancub in my arms who so recently, freshly, and creatively was created, “from dust,” and has an entire lifetime (God may it be so!) of discipleship and adventure before him.  Next week I will perform a funeral for a lady who soon will literally return to dust.  Yesterday I learned of a beautiful young lady in our community who has just been found to have a brain tumor.  Last week a teenager and his family visited our church and just found out he has a thyroid tumor and they have to wait a month for results.  And yet, I have spent much more time fielding calls, emails, and conversations about the selection of a college president. 
Someone was killed on the HWY 281 bridge this morning in Marble Falls, it happened right around 7:30…within minutes of the utterance of thousands upon thousands of believers all across our time zone being blessed with the phrase, “Remember, O Man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”  Often is added to this phrase, “But the steadfast Love of the Lord endures forever.”  Often is added to this, “Repent, Believe in the Gospel!” 
This morning I would add these lyrics that have been on my heart:
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
With these thoughts on my heart and mind I enter this season of preparation for the remembrance of Christ’s death and the celebration of His resurrection.   See the email below.  If you want a good devotional to walk with through this season skip to the bottom and free yourself from my rambling! 
Good Morning Fellowship,
Today is Ash Wednesday.  In most church traditions this is a day that begins the season of Lent, a 6 week journey from today until Easter.  Lent is a season of preparation of the follower of Christ – through prayer, penitence, giving of self, and self-denial, for the celebration of Easter. 
Often people observe acts of self-denial as a means of orienting their life toward the ways of Christ.  For instance, many decide not to eat certain foods or drink certain drinks they normally enjoy for these few weeks.  Then, everytime they think about eating or drinking this they have given up, they pray to be conformed into Christ’s image.  Others give up chocolate, or TV, or facebook, or golf, or any of a myriad of things and use the time, energy, and resources normally spent on such luxuries for the serving Christ’s Kingdom and growing in relationship with Christ. 
It is a wonderful practice. 
Ash Wednesday begins this season of Lent.  Traditionally, followers of Christ attend an Ash Wednesday Service where repentance is the theme, and as believers repent and confess to their Lord, a pastor or clergyman places the sign of the cross on the forehead of the believer.  The ashes generally come from the burned palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. 
The purpose of Ash Wednesday, though, is for repentance.  To repent of the ways we are running from, avoiding, and acting against Our Lord and Savior and to commit to walk with Him. 
It is a wonderful practice. 
Although we at Fellowship do not currently, actively, participate in the full Lenten Season, I ask that you pray about committing to prepare your heart over the next Six weeks as we approach Easter and the remembrance of Christ’s death and the celebration of His resurrection. 
Perhaps you will be led to participate in some act of self-denial that will help you focus on Christ’s working in your life.  Perhaps your celebration of Easter will be deepend as will your service to God’s Kingdom and your relationship with Christ. 
In the Ash Wednesday Service the officiant utters the phrase to each person to comes down the aisle to be blessed with the sign of the cross, “Remember, O Man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  Repent, and believe in the Gospel!”
If you would like a good devotional to aid you in walking through this season of the year, go to this site:

The Latest February 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 10:40 pm

We’ve had a busy few weeks since our last post.   It is such a joy watching Brooks develop as a little man.  It is simply wondrous watching him learn to eat, discover his hands, have teeth come in, sit up, and develop a sweet little personality. 

Two weekends ago I got to go preach back in Hubbard, where Kelley and I lived before moving to Marble Falls.  It was great to see our old friends and make some new ones.  Hubbard was our first place to live as a married couple and started out ministry.  Because of that and our great friendships, it will always be a very special place for us.  It was fun watching people meet Brooks who remember us before we were married. 

Before going to Hubbard we got to see Mallory at her office and walk about Baylor campus and also got to spend the night with Graham, Storey, and Cambell.   Mal is finishing up her last semester getting her MDiv at Truett (after alreadying getting her MSW at BU) and is working wit the Texas Hunger Initiative and for BU SPiritual Life.  Her office is in the Bobo Student Center (formerly Bobo Baptist Student Center), where Kelley and I spent many many hours while in college and it was great to be back. 

Below is a picture of us in the swing in front of Waco Hall on BU campus where Kelley and I had our first kiss and where we got engaged (cue, the “Awwwww!”).  It was fun to bring Brooks there.   Notice the BU shirt he’s wearing!  Bu Baby gear is hard to find and Mal had a friend make several of these shirts for Brooks.  Incidentally, 56 just happens to be his dad’s old football number. 

Here is one of what Mal looks like while taking a picture. 

We met the Cooks at Ninfa’s for dinner and were able to spend the night and hang out for a good while with them.  While at Ninfa’s Cambell got a little frisky with Brooks.  He didn’t know how to handle an aggressive older woman.

It was absolutely adorable!  Check out cookslovekisses.blogspot.com for more pics.  When we got back to their house she REALLY wanted to sit in his lap, but it just wasn’t working.  It was irresistably cute.  Brooks decided not to sleep that night.  He was so loud and fussy that Kelley and I got up at 1 AM and drove around for over an hour just to keep him from waking up Cambell and Graham and Storey. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures in Hubbard, but it was really nice to see everyone there and to worship with our great friends. 

There has been plenty more happen over the past few weeks.  More to come soon.

Int he meantime, there is plenty of cuteness here to enjoy!