Rocks

My collection as it remains today.

As a kid, I collected rocks. The obsession followed me into adulthood and my first youth ministry job in Tomball. I think I like rocks, ’cause to me, they aren’t just rocks, they represent stories, times in my life, memories, etc. The movie “With Honors” also features a guy who collects rocks as symbols of his life. Anyway, I took a few pictures and thought I’d share a few of them with you guys. I’ll start with the oldest ones and move through my life:

Rose Rocks

As a child, my parents took us on all kinds of short little weekend trips where we could discover the world around us. I remember taking shovels to dig up salt crystals (Oklahoma Salt Plains) and collecting “rose rocks” another time. Although the salt crystals didn’t survive my childhood, I still have a few of the “rose rocks.” They will always represent my childhood and the adventures my family would take us on.

The first individual rock I remember finding and keeping was a piece of pyrite (also known as “fools gold”) in the bottom of a creek in Yellowstone National Park. I’m not sure if I really found it or if my dad dropped it in the water before I arrived, but nevertheless, I became a “rock hound” that day. It was the summer of 1978 and I was 8yrs old.

After that my collecting became more intentional. I also spent lots of $$ (well lots for a kid) buying polished rocks from every souvenir shop we ever entered. I also used my collecting as an excuse to hit my parents up for “rock candy” every chance I got.

Fossils from Meridian State Park

There are many more rocks I could show you, but these are quite possibly the most important. I found these fossils in Meridian State Park when I was in High School. These represent the greatest decision of my life. It was in that park that I began my relationship with Jesus Christ. I found them with my friend, Shayne Hackworth as we hiked around the lake with a group of friends. You just see rocks, but I can still picture the trail where we dug them up. I can still feel the weight of them in my pocket and remember the joy of my first days as a Christian. I’ll refrain from reminiscing more.

The next rock has a bit more of a story. When I was attending Texas A&M, I went on a canoeing trip with some great people from the Wesley Foundation. My friend Scott and I decided to climb the side of a cliff to crawl into a cave that we had seen. Once we were in, we couldn’t see the back of the cave, so we started throwing rocks to see if we could hear the back wall. One of the rocks slipped out of my hand and hit the ceiling which then crashed down in front of us. We realized then that the whole ceiling was crystal. We grabbed a few rocks and climbed out. I ended up using this rock many times throughout my Youth Ministry career to show students how the body of Christ works together. Each crystals fits perfectly with the others. Together, they make up the whole rock (Jesus is the Rock). If one crystal is removed, other crystals fall out. One time I was preaching and as I shared the story I dropped the stone on the ground in front of me. It broke. At first I was upset, but then I realized that the Body of Christ was broken for me too. Anyway, there’s are lots of great symbols in this one.

I found this rock on a beach in San Franscisco. I was with a group o youth ministers who were attending the National Youth Workers Convention. We had pooled our $$, rented a van, and taken a little trip to see the sites. I picked up this rock, cause I noticed the holes in it. Once I looked closer, I also noticed the small stone within one of those holes. I tried, but couldn’t dislodge the small stone from it’s position. If the rock is Jesus, then He was protecting that stone very well. It’s been at least 15yrs and that stone is still there. It remains because the larger stone remains. I think there’s a lesson in that for me. I will remain as long as I’m able to remain in in the hands of God.

The Fish Fossil was given to me by a student who was in the Youth Ministry in Tomball. Shane Sampson was the son of a science teacher and he and his dad actually dug this thing up. He contacted me on Facebook recently and to my surprise is very involved in doing ministry himself these days. He is an area director for Young Life – doing student ministry himself. This is not just a rock. It represents all the stories I’ve been able to hear from my ex-students about the things God is doing with them now.

I cannot speak of my rock collection without mentioning these. On January 3, 2004 I married my beautiful bride Miranda. We asked each of our guests to grab a stone as they entered the sanctuary. During the ceremony, we had them hold the stone and say a prayer for our marriage. You may see rocks, but I see prayers. I see friend and family who are encouraging us in our commitment to one another. I see hundreds of voices who joined together to request God’s intervention on our behalf. Our marriage has been great! The past year and my job/financial struggles have certainly tested us, but the truth is that we are probably stronger than ever in our love for one another. I believe these rocks are part of the reason why. Well, not really the rocks, but the prayers of our friends and family are priceless. They are able to touch us with God’s hand even when we don’t know we need a touch. This vase sits in our living room. I see them every day and I’m grateful for such amazing friends and reminders.

So there you have it. A few of the rocks in my collection. I have enjoyed this little walk through my life and hope somebody out there is actually still reading. (I probably should have started with my wedding rocks if I had wanted people to read about them, but. . .well, it is what it is.)

New Terrain

No matter where you are in life, you can probably say, “Wow! I’ve never been here before. Life has thrown some things at me, but I’ve never felt like this before.” It seems that even in our “normal” everyday lives, there’s still always something new – something different that turns things at a new angle so it all seems new. Consequently, we’re always breaking new ground – walking into uncharted territory. New terrain is normal – it’s what we do, if we’re alive. This means we’ve gotta always be ready for the unexpected and it also means that life is truly an adventure.

During our time at my mom’s house for the hurricane evacuation, I was watching Kasen and learned something about new terrain. Let me explain: He has been walking for about a month, but he’s still working on it. He still stumbles around a bit when there’s an incline or a little step – or if he’s going from concrete to grass, etc. stepping-stones2My mom has a concrete porch in the back of her house with stepping stones in the grass leading to another bricked area with a porch swing. The weather was beautiful while we were there so we spent quite a bit of time outside. Kasen loved the stepping stones, but couldn’t navigate them very well. They were too far apart for him to use them properly, and so he would step into the grass and then up on a stone, then down into the grass again. . . .you get the picture. If I walked all the way out to the swing, he’d just stop and cry for me to pick him up and take him there, but if I went a couple steps ahead of him. . .he’d give it a shot and walk to me. He fell almost every time he went from the stone to the grass, but each time he got up again and would clap for himself and say “Yeah.” (That’s something else he’s learned recently.) Each time I’d join him in the applause and he’d continue. Whenever he made it without falling, he also clapped and I joined him then too. He needed the encouragement either way – besides that, the applause is what made the whole experience fun. As a father, I loved cheering for him when he’d get up after a fall and also when he made the step and kept his balance. I know he loved it too.

I wonder if this hurricane and the new terrain that we’re learning to navigate is similar? Do we have enough people around us who will cheer for us whether we succeed or fall? Are we being the kind of people who will cheer for others either way? As we enter into this new terrain, will we continue to walk – taking one step at a time, or will we be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task? Do we have people in our lives who will go with us through it all without getting too far out ahead? Will we go through it with others?

For that matter – isn’t this the case with anything new in our lives? Isn’t it better when we do it together? When there are people to encourage us and walk through it all with us?

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.