Saturday, May 31, 2008


This is my oldest child, George IV, at age two in the basement of my parent's home in Charlotte, North Carolina. I know...he's so cute. The image is making me feel very nostalgic. This picture could easily have been me, 31 years earlier at the same chalkboard, different basement, in Fredericksburg, Virginia at the home of my mother's parents, William and Ruby Lee Johnson, my beloved grandparents. My sister and I used to play down there for hours at that chalkboard and with games like Chinese Checkers. In the winter the furnace was always blazing hot. I remember watching A Christmas Carol, the George C. Scott version, one X-mas Eve, and thinking how the setting was perfect--smoky smelling and cozy with that black knit blanket, or bundled up in that green sleeping bag/blanket that had bottons that mummified the wearer. That chalkboard was always at the foot of the basement steps. To see my children draw on it now takes me back to my earliest memories, mostly the smells of that old homeplace on William Street.

I'm about to turn 33. George IV is nearing his 5th birthday. The years are floating by now as quickly as days, even minutes sometimes.

A week ago I was ordained as a minister in Christ's Church at the Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. It was one of the greatest days of my seemingly short life. Friends sharing in blessings and prayers. The same friends heard my promises to God about how things would be the same, but different. Ministry will somehow become more focused, more guided, it would seem. Getting it right matters. Formal schooling is over, at least for now. Mentors preached and prayed and gifted me with embraces. Parishoners who have watched over me since I was young enough to first scribble on a chalkboard prayed in my ear that I would be a faithful servant to God.

Present at the ordination service, to my shock and surprise, was my 93 year old grandmother, Ruby Lee Johnson. Our youngest, William, is named after her husband, William Scott Johnson, dead now 15 years of cancer. He was as honest and loving as any person I have ever known. As I wept during the Laying on of Hands by each of the 100 people present at my ordination, I felt his old weepy self crying right along with me.

Looking at this picture is a way back into the story of my life and an ordination last week that was as culminating an event of God's work in my life as my birth, baptism, marriage to Kristen, or the birth of any or all of our three children. I have not been able to write too much about the ordination yet, at least not anything of significance. I feel anxious to get it all down, but I am praying for patience. I don't think the weight of that Sunday afternoon will depart me anytime soon.


P.S. Here is another picture from that weekend. Our son sure was a cutie! He still is--just taller.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Doors closed for good

Doors closed for good. Joseph says these words to his brothers after they tried to kill him and after a life in Egypt for which he had not planned. "Although you intended me harm, God intended if for good." Has this ever been true for you? Bad stuff is happening all the time--missed planes, injured legs, criticisms we did not want, things we wish we had not said. Sometimes though, the seemingly bad turns out to be for the good. Look for that today.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Down, but not out

I'm going to write about a personal thing, running, that so pales in comparison to the spiritual thing, Jesus' death. Still, the parallel is on my mind.

I've been second at my last four races. Bel Monte, Loco Ocho, Owl's Roost, and Anne Springs Close Greenway. The distances were 25K, 8 miles, half marathon, half marathon. I can't seem to win. I'm just a little off my game. Frustrated, but guilty feeling that I am complaining about such great results.

Dale Earnhardt once said, "Second place is first loser." I have felt this way.

Here's to winning. Someday.