Today is my birthday. I have joined the ranks of those who have completed 38 years of life on this planet. I must say, that I have lived a very full and wonderful life. I have been blessed with a great family, countless friends, so many memorable experiences, work that I enjoy so much, and, most of all, three beautiful daughters.
Looking back, the highlights of my life include two that particularly stand out:
1. Welcoming three precious daughters into this world and into my life. Elizabeth Michele, Hannah Danielle, and Autumn Grace are the jewels of my life. They have been through a very difficult year, but they continue to shine with all the splendor bestowed on them by their Creator. And, the best birthday present of all: they will be with me for much of the next two months!
2. Today, is also an anniversary of sorts. By reaching my 38th birthday, I can now say that I have spent half of my life in active ministry. My first ministry "employment" came when I was 19 years old and spent the summer serving the University Church of Christ in Denver, Colorado first as a youth ministry intern and then, for two months, as its interim youth minister. I've been serving churches in one official capacity or another ever since.
O course, there also have been some disappointments and regrets during the past 38 years. Two stand out.
1. Without a doubt, no other event in my life is as saddening and distressing as the failure of my marriage. The sinful choices of others brought it to an end, but I will share in the shame for the rest of my life.
2. I chose Oklahoma Christian College over York College. I have often wondered how different my life would have been had I gone to York. Of course, after a semester at O.C., I transferred home to Lubbock Christian University.
Even with the disappointments, I have lived a blessed life, and I look forward to the road ahead. I have tried to live my life with optimism--not always successfully, mind you, but the effort to remain upbeat has been my daily goal. Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned during the past 38 years it is that living is a whole lot easier when you keep looking for that silver lining that is certainly behind every cloud.
I was reminded of this lesson today. I arrived in Liberal, Kansas last night to spend today visiting churches in the area. I have been to Liberal many, many times in my life. My grandfather preached for the Forgan, Oklahoma Church of Christ for over 30 years, and Liberal (32 miles from Forgan) was the closest place with restaurants and shopping. Liberal is (or, rather was) the home of Kings BBQ, a place that became a personal favorite. I came to Liberal this week looking forward to eating at Kings on my birthday. But, lo, Kings is closed. There's a "For Sale" sign on the door! To say that I was disappointed is an understatement . . . that is, until I found Braum's!