Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rubber meeting the Road

21 days.

Thats all it took for 2009 to crush the idea of 2009 being a better year than 2008. Those first 21 days were filled with anticipation of this being a great year filled with hopes and dreams fullfilled.

Then life happened.

We have finally realized that the position Steph has had for 6 months today, was being eliminated. Her position that required legal certification and a college degree has been replaced by a new position filled by someone who will answer the phone, make coffee and make a little more than McDonalds pays counter help.
We both knew this was coming but because of promises made, we both were in denial that it was coming and hoping for the best. Well as of this post, the position has been offered to someone else and not to Steph.

Denial is over.

So yesterday, after I got the call informing me of this, I of course did the typical male things: stomped around the house, fussed, was in grouchy mood, mad, wished bad things upon her boss and her entire family, thought of how I could hurt her as much as she was hurting us. Really just completely threw my Christian walk out the second story window of our house.

And just then, God showed up.

It was almost audible. He asked, "Ok you talk a big game....now, do you really trust Me? Are you really going to praise Me in the good times and in the bad or is everything that you say, just words?"
Of course it didnt help much that earlier that day I got a call from my brother in law, who is in the same boat, but doesnt have an idea on where to turn. He seems almost to the point of giving up but continues to pray.
It really got me thinking. Its so easy to say "We will praise Him when we win and when we lose, (quote from Facing the Giants that immediately came to mind) when the score is in your favor, but do we really think to praise Him when we are not winning? Do we really praise Him when the waves are crashing against us? Do we really rejoice in the dark times?
Then, last night, Focus was on the 23rd Psalm.

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemes; thou annointest my headwith oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. and I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever."

That is scripture that I have often overlooked. Its God's promise to all of us that He, not us, is in charge and that even though, He has put us in the place that He allows, He chose, and we are surrounded by people who want nothing more than to bring us down, to hurt us and to take our testimony, He will pour out His blessing on us and our cups will overflow.

"God gives us the valleys, so that we can appreciate the mountain tops!" - Derrick Danner

Good times are so quickly forgotten when a little dark cloud comes into the picture. Sure, times "MAY" be tight for a little while but for the last 6 months, they havent been. Steph has had a job while others did not. I have been with my current job for 7 years while others work in jobs just to have a job.
God has really blessed me and I take this for granted. I have an incredible Christian woman for a wife, 2 great families, a great dog, new position at work, house, 2 trucks, and gadgets galor. Just this past year alone, we had a great Christmas and didnt charge a single thing. We went to Pigeon Forge on less money than we ever have and had one of the best times.

Right now, the score isnt even close but the game isnt over.

2008 was not one of my better years. It was tough financially and was an up and down roller coaster ride emotionally. But God brought us through it as He has always done and will continue to do.

He promised!

Dear God,
As I look around today at the valley You have chosen for us, I can look around and see its familiarity. This valley, we have been in before and You alone brought us out of it. You will be with us while we are here and lead us to the path out of it, as You have done before. Help me to never lose sight of this. Help me to know You are always there, good times and bad. Thank You for all You have done and are going to do in my life.

My cup truely runs over.....

Keith

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When it all comes together....

Yes I know. First thing. It has been forever and a day since I made a new post. Sometimes life it seems takes off like a rocket and before you know it, almost a year has past. So much has happened and so much has gone on that it would take me all day to finish this.
God is incredible. He has brought Steph and I through a financially tough year. He has taken her out of a bad situation in her job and put her in a new position. He still has me in the same place but now I work from home on Wednesdays. Which helps because now, I have taken on a lot of responsibilities with the youth and I am able to be at church a lot earlier on wed. nights and get the technical side set up.
Which is one of the new irons that I have in the fire. When Jeremy left LMBC, there was a need for someone, an adult, to oversee the praise team and to take over the technical side of the service. I took on the technical role while another friend of ours took over the band. (I definately got the better end of this deal). The kids that I work with are great. The youth are amazing at LMBC. They do things for Christ that youth in my day, never dreamed about doing. They are not only talking the talk, but walking the walk.
And now, not that I have any spare time, another iron has been placed in the fire. Now I have been asked to take on the role of technical director for the LMBC contemporary service. Its almost exactly what I do with the youth on wed. nights now, it will just be with a new team, which I have to recruit.
Of course, sacrifices will have to be made. The most important one is making sure this does not become a problem with Steph and I. We don't argue and we never fight. We both sacrifice and we both put the other one before ourselves so reaching a decision that we both agree on is usually not difficult. What this means is that we will both go to the early service together, to Sunday School together and then I will go to contemporary service and she will be open to serving in other areas.
For the first time, in a VERY LONG TIME, I feel like God is working through me, using the talents that He gave me, to do a work for Him right where He needs me to be.

I have said it before and I will say it again....
"I love it when a plan comes together!"

Dear God,
Thank you so much for bringing us to where You want us. You have brought us through the valley on to the the mountain top. When life happens and we don't see how You will work it out, You always do.You haven't given us children yet, but you have given us a LOT of youth to work with at LMBC until Your time is right. Continue to show us Your presence, especially at this time of year when it is so easy to forget the real reason for this time of year.

Keith

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Two Question Project

Imagine for a moment, you are sitting in a public place. It could be the park, a mall, a sporting event, your favorite place to eat, etc. You get the picture. About this time, someone comes up and sits beside you. At first, you think this person seems very familiar but you cant place the face, the voice, nothing.

Then, the person introduces Himself as God.

For what ever reason, you know that its true and God Himself, is sitting next to you.

With a comforting voice, He says that you have been a good person and to reward you, He is going to give you the opportunity to ask Him 2 questions. Two questions about anything that you want to know. Once you are over the shock that God is sitting next to you, you think for a moment about what in life would you really like to know.

What would those 2 questions be?

This is the idea that has been on my mind for several days now. I have sent out numerous emails to people that I know asking them the same question. Some of the answers are people not putting a lot of thought into it until they get to the second question. A LOT of the second questions have been really thought provoking and very deep.

The great thing about this idea that God gave me (He obviously did because I'm not smart enough to come up with this on my own) is that it is a great ice breaker to talk about with those who either aren't Christians or those who are Christians but have fallen away. The whole purpose of this is to get people to think about "What is going to happen when I am face to face with God?"

Think about it and email me your answers to kwhite75@bellsouth.net. I will be posting some of the questions here but I want to give everyone the chance to come up with their own answers before I post some of the questions already given.

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Yea Alabama......"

Living in Georgia and being from Alabama, I get a lot of grief on my "Bama" heritage. I have even been called the "token" Alabama employee. No where in the Georgia criminal code does it say you must hire so many minorities, handicap people and so many from Alabama. Regardless, I refuse to convert to or be adopted into Georgia. I will wear my Crimson and White proudly. As I have told others, there are 2 types of people in this world, people FROM ALABAMA, and people who WISH THEY WERE!.
I have met people from the north, people from the mid west, people from the west coast, couple of Iranians, a few Chinese, one Romanian, and none of them are like true Southerners. Sure they think we all talk funny, we only drink ice tea even for breakfast, we all date our cousins, we all drive trucks and we all own at least 1 shotgun. The truth is, we dont talk funny, everyone else is just doing it wrong. Some of us drink more tea than others. Me personally, it just isnt the same without a cup of REAL sugar. Splenda in tea just isnt the same and since I can't have real southern tea, I'll pass on that one. I dont plan on being on Jerry Springer any time soon and since I'm married to a great "Georgia" gal, the whole cousin thing doesnt apply either. I dont own any shotguns, handguns or even BB guns but as any true southerner would be, we have not one, but two trucks in our garage. (One is a honda, does that really count as a truck?)
One thing southerners do and do very well is come together when a loved one passes away. If someone close to you dies, people you probably have never met will bring more food to your house than your kitchen can hold. If someone in your work, your school or church dies or has someone close to them pass on, you automatically make a caserole, a cake or a pie. It isnt law in Alabama, it is just the way it is.
Last week, a popular radio personality (Rick Burgess) got news while out of town, that his 2 year old son, Bronner, had drown in the family pool. Rick being the strong Christian man that he is well known to be, spoke at his son's memorial service. The church had the insight to video what he said and someone put the video up on youtube.com. As of this post, it has been viewed 364,117 times. That is 17,000 views today since this morning when I saw it again.

What is so special about this video

It is the message that God spoke through Rick. It is about how people came together for this family. It is about how a father, who just received the worst possible knews a father could get, was obedient to God. It is a challenge to all of us to look at our lives, to finish the fight.

What has blown me away is how God used the death of this 2 yr old child to make an impact on the kingdom not just in Alabama but throughout the world. On Rick's radio show this morning, they said that the video on you tube reached #1 in the WORLD last week. I dont know if Billy Graham has made an impact on the world in just a few days like this child has.
Today was Rick's first day back on the radio. People were calling in sharing what an impact this video has had on them. Churches have viewed it and entire churches were re-examining their lives and coming back to Christ. A Birmingham weatherman told a story of leading children's church this past Sunday and telling the story of what had happened. Sixteen kids came to Christ because of this event. Rick was at a conference when he got the news. No one will ever know the impact this event had on the people at this conference.
A warning. If you enjoy your life the way it is, dont watch this video. If you like going through your routine in your own little world, dont watch it. It is a message of hope, a challenge to finish the fight, and it encourages you to look at yourself and make an impact for the kingdom.

Not many messages have touched me like this one has. It not only reminded me of why bad things sometimes happen to good people, it reminded me that God has a plan, I am part of it, and when it is all over and done with , God wins. Everything good and bad, happens because like Rick says in the video, God allowed it to happen to bring about His glory.

Dear God,
Thank you for William Bronner Burgess. Thank you for using Rick, at the lowest point of his life, to bring this message that reached me as well as countless others, and challenged us to all look at ourselves and when dark times come, to remember Bronner and how what seems like tragedy to us, God is using to make an impact. Help me to remember this in my own life when I think I dont want to go on, I just want to go home.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"You'll shoot your eye out....."

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. Sure putting up the tree and most of the lights not working is pain in the nect, putting up lights outside is a hassle, and don't get me started on going shopping especially the day after Thanksgiving.
However, once the tree is up, the lights are lit, presents are bought, its ALL WORTH IT. True evidence that nothing worthwhile comes easy.
This year, it seems like Christmas is coming as fast. Stephanie and I both said it seems like Thanksgiving was yesterday. The down side to this is that it will be over as fast as it came.
One thing that I do, every year without fail, is watch my 2 favorite Christmas movies; A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation. Without watching these at least 4 or 5 times, it doesnt really seem like its Christmas (As of this post I've seen both three times since Thanksgiving).
A Christmas Story really hits home to me. In the movie, Ralphie wanted a BB gun more than any other present. After all of the presents were opened, he had no gun to speak of. Sitting on the couch with his parents, he was asked if he got everything he wanted and of course, he said no. Then his dad pointed out one package behind the desk that got overlooked. It was the exact gift that he wanted. Of course, as expected, he shot himself in the eye with it.
My greatest Christmas memory was when I got my first computer, a Commodore 64. I had asked for one for months and it was of course the hot gift to get that year. As usual, me and Chris woke up as early as possible and went through the gifts like a hot knife through butter, but no computer. That was ok, disappointing but ok.
Later that morning, I was asked the same thing as Ralphie, "Did I get everything I wanted?" Of course I said no but then my mom asked me to get something out of the back room. There on top of the washing machine was the gift I had wanted, the computer. Dad had bought the demo from Toys R Us the day before on his way home.
Then it didnt mean as much to me as it does to me now. All I knew is that I got the present that I wanted. Nothing else mattered.
Today, it matters. Because my parents got me that very first computer, now I work on a pc all day at work and most of the night once I get home. In our house, Steph and I have 2 laptops, and 3 desktop pc's. I can take a pc apart and put it back together just about in my sleep and all of my friends and family know who to call when they have a pc problem.
Now I see my parents doing the same things for Blake and Emily that they did for me and my brother. Last year dad helped my brother build Blake's monster golf cart and this year he is helping him build Emily's condominium playhouse. I know without a doubt, when the time comes that Stephanie and I have kids, both of my parents will go out of their way to do the same. Of course, Stephanie and I will go out of our way to give our kids the gifts that they want also. After all, we will just be living up to the examples set by our parents and no one will be able to say anything or stop us just like we can't stop our parents.

Go ahead, try to stop them. "I TRIPLE DOG DARE YA!!"

Dear God,
Thank You for Christmas. Thank You for sending Your Son. Through all of the hustle and bustle, help me to never lose sight of what Christmas is all about. Help me to always remember Christmas is not about what you get at Christmas, its about what you give to others as Your Son gave His all to us. Thank you for parents who sacrificed so much so that I could be where I am today. Help me to be an example to our future children, our friends and our family, like the example my parents set and continue to raise the bar for.

Merry Christmas,
Keith

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Show us what's behind, Curtain number 3!"

I used to love to watch game shows. There was Wheel of Fortune, Card Sharks, Press Your Luck, Name that Tune, and one of my favorites, Jeopardy. (When I was young, the questions were a LOT easier....). One game show that was a little before my time was Lets Make a Deal. Players woud be given a choice between several boxes, curtains, or other items. Of the choices, one would be a huge prize, another an ok prize, and finally a goat or some other ridiculous choice. Most of the time, you would have the choice to take your prize and trade it for one of the other previous choices.

Sometimes it worked out for the better but most of the time it did not.

Still, the players had a choice.

I have been faced with a lot of difficult choices lately and I didnt make a good choice on a few of them.

This past weekend, I went up to Dalton, GA for the CSE Tournament. Its been crazy getting ready for this and I knew that I would be working my tail off. Saturday night, after working like mad all day, Stephanie called me several times wanting to know when I was going to go to the hotel. Almost like clockwork, something came up after almost every call that kept me at the ball field until almost midnight. I could have said its not worth it and went to the room, but I kept on trying to do it all myself. I ran myself like mad when I should have taken her hint and chosen to go back to the room but instead, I made a bad choice and got to the room late.

She was there wanting to surprise me.

Bad choice on my part.

Sure we spent all day Sunday together at the ball park for a while then we went and got her Christmas present afterwards. It was a great day but nothing like Saturday night could have been if I had made a better choice.

Now I am faced with another choice. At her insistance, (4 am blessing out because I havent been to the dr. in I could not tell you how long), today I broke down and went to the doctor.

It was not a good experience to say the least.

Almost everything that could be wrong with me basically is. Sugar is high, chloresteral is high, blood pressure isnt great, etc. etc., etc. The doctor when reading my test results actually said (and this is a direct quote) "Oh crap!"

I have never liked going to the doctor because of the way they make you feel afterwards but at that point in my life, I don't think a doctor has ever made me feel worse.

So now I have a choice. I can choose Curtain #1 and follow what he has told me I HAVE to do and pray to God almighty that I can get my health in order, or I can choose Curtain #2 and ignore him and continue to do what I have been doing, that didnt work, and the results, well, it doesnt take a NASA scientists to figure out what high blood sugar and high chloresteral will result in.

I think Stephanie and I choose Curtain #1......

Dear God,
Its been a while I know. I also know You didn't move, I did. Help me to see that You are there. You are the one who pushed Stephanie and gave her the courage to stand up to me and demand that I see a Dr. If it were not for that, I would never know how my health is right now. As bad as I hated going, thank you for giving me the courage to go to the doctor.

Keith

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fore......

Golf balls.....small white balls struck by a club in an attempt to get the ball inside a hole hundreds of yards away. A game many in my industry play several times weekly. I myself have only been to a driving range and hit balls once. That was enough for me.
This weekend, I heard a simple story about "Golf Balls" that really hit home.....

The Professor and the Jar By Author Unknown
A Professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the Professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The Professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The Professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the space between the grains of sand.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else -the small stuff.

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. "Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The Professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

I didn't write that story but it hit home close enough that I wanted to put it here as a reminder to myself. I take life for granted. I work entirely too much and when I am not at work, I am working at home, cutting the grass, cleaning up the basement, etc.
Everytime I turned around, Steph, in her loving way, would remind me not to miss the golf balls. It drove me crazy. Not because she was nagging, which she wasn't, but because she was right. I paid more attention to email this weekend than I did to her. In a sense, I put so much sand in the jar, I had no room for my golf ball.

Right now, a lot of people close to me are in a valley. A valley a lot darker than the one Steph and I just came through with her job. My uncle who has been an incredible Christian influence and role model for me my entire life, is in Florida right now at a cancer specialist. My mom #2, (steph's mom) is waiting test results today for cancer. Both of them are very special to me and both of them I know will come through this with flying colors, yet both I know are scared and both I know are putting their trust in God to get them through this. Their situations made ours seem so trivial and non important.

I am not a person of strong faith. The events in my life that I come through with God's help are soon forgotten in times of crisis. That is why I believe God puts us through trials, to depend on Him and to grow our faith. He really came through for Steph and I. Now she has a job that will carry us through her classes and she can find the job He has for her. That "valley" not only helped to grow my faith, but also helped to remind me of how many times there were only one set of "footprints.....that God was carrying me through the storm."

Dear God,
Once again, you have shown me that you are there. You provided Steph with a job and now may have opened up another door. You brought my dad through his tests. You provided Derrick's family with a job and insurance that they needed just in time. How soon I forget that you are there. Help me to know that you are there for those close to me who need you the most right now. Be with them and lift them up, like you have for me so many times.

Oh and God, if Shelia TRYS to sing another Third Day song.......well, You know what to do.....

Keith