Place of Grace – Meridian – for my children

I never finished this, but it was an idea for a poem or song or something to give to my children. It expresses the things I plan to share with my kids when I take them to visit Meridian State Park someday. I’ll tell them the story of how I came to know Jesus. I’m so excited about that day! These words capture some of the emotions I feel as I think about telling them.

Anyway, maybe I’ll finish it someday, but I wanted to go ahead and post something so I wouldn’t lose it.


This is a couple of years after I came to know Christ, but it still floods my mind with memories of that day. Lots of the same people in this pic.

Come let me show you this place, this place full of grace.
Come let me show you the spring where we sat and listened to the quiet
And the outcropping where we waterbombed the bus.
Let’s go walk the carpet of bluebonnets
and run past the bees on the trail of Mesquite
As a child I ran these trails and stepped on a snake
These vines scratched my legs but helped heal me too.

We played frisbee golf and waterballoon volleyball
Chased Bulldog to soak him
James Garner taught us the Scriptures under the tree.
Ross Senter spoke around the campfire.

Let me show you the grace in this place.

Come watch the horizon swallow the sun
Breathe in the lights. See the milky way run
From up on the ledge and above the lake
Lets watch the sky. and see the stars come awake.

Come hear distant voices from the lake down below
Let’s sit and sing and wait – take it slow
If we’re lucky we’ll see a star fall from space
Here in this place – this place full of grace

And this is where I sat and sang and cried
Around the campfire On the night I gave my life to Christ.

This place is so dear. It’s a place I want you to know
Whether this place or that place, I want you to have your own place full of grace.

Blazin’ a Trail

I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve climbed around that tree.

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  ~ Unknown. (Sometimes attributed to Emerson & McAlindon)

Meridian State Park (Texas) is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s where I first understood the cross. (I guess I’m actually still working on understanding it’s magnitude, but. . .) Anyway, one of my memories of Meridian was a time when my friend Shayne Hackworth and I went exploring. We blazed trails all over that park. We found natural springs and uncovered fossils. We saw and experienced things the rest of our group missed. We’d take turns leading each other. We waved big sticks in front of us as we traveled in order to clear the spiderwebs from the trail. In spite of our efforts, I still remember getting covered in those webs. Cuts and scratches all over our legs were common as well as the occasional poison ivy rash.

Leadership was not glamorous or easy. It was a sacrifice. It was a way to honor those behind you. The leader may have been out front, but he served his followers. He was in the lead position, but he placed himself underneath them. He believed they were more important and understood that they could travel further and accomplish more if he served them by taking the lead position. He got more dirty, more bloody, and more sweaty than the rest of the group.

Leaders serve.

Servers lead.

 

Noticing

I have been thinking about “noticing” lately. I even wrote a journal for our students which centered on this idea. (Of course most of the material is from Louie Giglio) Anyway, It’s not a new idea but I think the fast-paced world we live in, which bounces us from one activity to the next, has kept us from “noticing” or “stopping to smell the roses.”

(It’s very possible that this has been so heavy on me, ’cause my own life has been so hectic. I’m just getting over a sickness, which may very well have been God’s way of making me slow down and “notice.”)

When will it stop? The answer to that question is – never! We have built a world which will distract us from noticing the things God is doing around us. And Satan loves that we’re “too busy” for God. What’s the old saying? “If Satan can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy” – or something like that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that if we’re gonna notice God, we’re gonna have to intentional about it. It won’t happen by accident. It will only happen on purpose when we attempt to “notice” Him.

Ps 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” But if we never really look into the heavens or at the skies, we could miss Him.

My professor, Dr. Ayers, says that leaders need to have time to “stare out the window.” I think that’s true for everyone. We all need more time staring out the window and looking for God and dreaming of what He wants and imagining how we can be a part of His eternal work.

Take some time to “notice” something today. Give enough time to it, and I feel confident that you’ll know what you were supposed to notice when you notice it. (Is that circular reasoning? Oh well – it’s still true.)

Meridian

Our youth group just got back from one of my favorite places in the world – Meridian State Park. We spent 4 days just lounging around the shelters down by the lake and hanging out up on Bee’s Ledge at night. We had some amazing times up there, and it’s always a joy to share the story about how I became a Christian in the “group camping area.” We took a hike around the lake and a few of our youth got poisen ivy – Oops, but all in all, it was great! One of our students, Katie Walzel has been studying Astronomy, and she was able to tell us all about the stars/formations we were looking at – cool stuff. It was also really cool to be able to take my son, Kasen, there for the first time. I plan on taking him back over and over throughout his lifetime, but this was his first trip – unless you count when he went last year inside Miranda’s tummy.

Here’s some pics of us on Bee’s Ledge one night and another of Kasen’s first watermelon experience.

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I Miss my Baby

No, I don’t mean Kasen (He’s still in Miranda’s tummy) – I’m talking about my original baby – Miranda. I got to see her a little last week while we went with the youth to Meridian State Park, Stevemiranda
(notice the pic) but didn’t really get any alone-time with her. We didn’t really expect to either, but still kinda hoped.
Anyway, this past week I was at church camp in Lakeview and she went to Alabama to see her Grandma (they call her Gran). She won’t get back ’til Monday night and then I have to be at meetings and school all day Tuesday. She leaves again Wednesday morning to go with the youth choir to New Mexico – I’m already sick of the summer, and we’ve hardly gotten started. What’s a guy supposed to do? I got married ’cause I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this incredible woman and now (with her pregnant) it just seems like it’s being stripped away. I don’t regret my job or my call to ministry in any way – this is just a difficult time for she and I.

Pray for us – not only do we hate being apart, but we’re simply better people to be around when we’re together. She definitely brings out the best in me, and I can already feel myself slipping into someone I don’t wanna be. It’s my prayer that each of you (if you haven’t already) can find someone like my beautiful bride to live your life with – unless of course God wants you to be single. Anyway, my bride is amazing and it’s truly an incredible experience to be able to live my life with her!

Meridian State Park

Meridian Gosh, I’m not even sure where to start this post. That title alone – MERIDIAN STATE PARK – conjures up so many images and emotions within me. Meridian holds memories of friends, campfires, fried fish, rock climbing, hiking, Bee’s Ledge, Herman, water balloons, swimming, guitars, and singing. It makes me think of people like my dad, JET, Deason, James, Jackie Jo, Schlotzhauer, Chris, Bulldog, Chuck, Ronnie, Shayne, Robin, Todd, Dowdy dude, Brandon, John, Mary Francis, Joni, Wendi, Stephanie, Holly, Mike, Seabolt, Susan, Jaime Jo, and so many others. Connie, Tinker, Susan, Yvonne – truly the list goes on and on. And the crazy thing is that each item on this list is a memory. Most importantly, Meridian is the place I gave my life to Christ. It’s the place that everything else in my life hinges on. If it weren’t for the people and relationships that I made that Wednesday night (July 18, 1985), I honestly don’t know where I’d be.

Id_crowley_jr_year2By the way, this ID pic was taken of me just a month or so after that Wednesday night. As you can see, I was well on my way to a really great mullet – the 80s were so cool!

Joe, my youth minister, invited some folks to go to Meridian this past weekend. I was the first to arrive, and so I walked around the camp alone just praying for about 45 minutes before anyone else showed up. As I walked, everywhere I went, it seemed like every step I took my mind was flooded with these emotions and memories of something which had happened in that very spot. I thanked God for each of those events and for the people connected with them.

Joe talked Saturday night about the “Standing Stones” from Joshua 4 which were set up to memorialize what God had done in that place. (Stopped the Jordan river from flowing so the Israelites could cross and enter the Promised Land.) Standing_stones2 When people would come across a standing stone in later generations, they would ask the question, “What did God do here?” and then they would worship Him in that place. (No! These people are not bowing down to a standing stone, but to God. The stone only reminds them of the Lord’s work.)

Anyway, as I thought about Meridian this weekend, I realized that Meridian is the first “Standing Stone” Memorial that I have in my life. It’s the place that began my life with Christ. As I have continued to live my life with Christ, there have been many others. I can look back at quite a few other memorials and see where God has moved. Some of those include: Jan 3, 2004 and my Beautiful Bride, the day my dad died, the Godbolds, the Wesley Foundation @ A&M, Mike Mathews, The Wave, Throne Together, my trip to Israel, Mercy Ships, and now Lake Jackson. There are still many others both past and future, but it sure makes my life easier knowing that I can look back at each of these events and see very clearly that God moved. My faith almost doesn’t seem like faith, because I have had so many evidences or revelations of God in my past. Each of these memorials has made me who I am. When I step back and look at all of them together, each one adds to the other to point me down the road for my future. I still don’t know what my future holds, but with each of these anchor points it sure seems like God is leading a particular direction. His wind is mighty, my sails are up, I’m excited to imagine what’s next.

Stories I Need to Tell – Falling Star

Alright, I decided today that I was gonna write a series of stories and post them all on here. I’ve been collecting stories out of my life for a while and even have a file on my computer called “Stories I Need to Tell.” It’s just a list of the stories I’ve been collecting – ANYWAY – I’ll start with a story where God really spoke to me in a powerful way. (Of course anytime He speaks it’s powerful, but I actually noticed that it was Him in this story.) This may actually be the first story I remember thinking that I needed to tell somebody else about – this is the one that after it happened I decided to start “collecting” stories.

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The Falling Star

06-07-31 01When I was a Senior in High School, I met a girl. Her name was Gema. We started dating and I must admit that she was the most amazing girl I had ever known. She was beautiful. She was smart. She enjoyed alot of the same things I did. And probably the biggest thing she had going for her was this: She actually liked me too. Anyway, we dated for a few months toward the end of my senior year (She was a senior too) and somewhere in the middle of the summer (probably July) I had returned home from church camp. (Meridian – that’ll be in another “Story I Need to Tell”) After arriving home I called her up and she came over to my house. My family lived in the middle of this big 80 acre field in those days so she and I went out back and sat in the porch swing. It was one of those really clear nights where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – the temperature was just cooling down from the summer day and there was a nice breeze. It was a pretty romantic sort of situation (I was pretty good with that stuff in those days.) Anyway, as we talked that night about leaving each other as we had planned to go off to college, Gema soon started crying. It wasn’t long that I had joined her. Somewhere deep inside I felt that things would be OK and since I had just come from church camp, I knew it was God speaking to me. Through my own tears I spoke to her and said, “It’ll be OK, God will be with us.” 06-07-31 02 THEN OUT OF NOWHERE CAME A FLASH ACROSS THE SKY! This falling star shot from one end of the sky to the other – It was HUGE! It was like God spoke through me saying “I am with you!” and then He sent this Big EXCLAMATION point with the falling star. Our tears dries up that night and we both had received the hope that God had given us that night. Of course the next day. . . . .we were sad again and scared about our future.

After starting school at Texas A&M a month or so later, trying to keep our relationship alive, I would drive 3 hours home each weekend to meet up with Gema. One weekend I came home and things felt different between us. When I asked her about it – she would say that everything was good and that she “loved” me. By the time Sunday night rolled around she pretty well had me convinced that things were still good between us. After my 3 hour drive I called her to tell her I had arrived safely and asked her once again what had changed. Why had things felt so different? She finally gave me the truth and said she didn’t know what it was, but she wanted to “break up.” She said she loved me and that I had done nothing wrong, but still wanted to “break up.” What??!!??!! What does that mean?? She still loves me, but doesn’t want to be with me??? It just doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, when I finally got off the phone it was about 3am. I was crying, but didn’t want my roommate to know I was crying over a girl – I guess that’s the macho guy in me. As I walked around the apartment complex, I cried out to God, “Why?? I don’t understand God?? You brought me down here where I’m all alone. No friends. No family. No church. No job. I’m all alone and now, You’re taking away my girlfriend??!! I don’t get it??” And then He answered as only He could. I saw a “falling star” shoot from one end of the sky to the other and was reminded of what He had said before with that same phrase. “I am with you.”

I AM WITH YOU! Listen to Him say it to you.

I AM WITH YOU!

From that day forward I have realized that I wasn’t ever alone, and that I am stronger when it’s just He and I than at any other time in my life. Wherever you find yourself today know that God is with you and that He loves you.