Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Local love-struck legend. . .

Last night my friend, Kim, told me a story that is making its way around the town of Hamilton. It seems there is a certain bachelor farmer who took a liking to the waitress at the nearby watering hole. The farmer himself is a bit of a local legend. He has three seasons: planting, drinking, and harvesting. When he's not on a tractor seat, he's on a bar stool.

Anyway, this little waitress of his apparently had only one flaw to mar her natural beauty: she lacked teeth. (She might have had more but, as I understand it, gals become more pristine with each subsequent beverage.) This farmer courted the gal and, when they finally became an item, bought her a brand new set of choppers.

Fast forward. The farmer and the waitress had a falling out and broke up. When the farmer left her, and here is the really legendary part of the story, he took her teeth with him!!!

If this were the end of the tale, it would be tall enough. But apparently the lovesick couple has begun dating again. Kim tells me that the farmer has returned her teeth but, unsure if the relationship will endure, he has only given her the top set!

Wow. . .

Monday, June 25, 2007

A lesson from Eddie

Several years ago our friends Mike and Shelly treated us to an evening at Eddie Merlot's. If you've never been to this incredible eatery, you would be amazed. It is p-o-s-h! For us, it was a once-in-a-decade experience where the incredible food was eclipsed only by the company of our companions.

In particular, what stood out to me was the attentiveness of the wait staff. A wait person stood sentry at one end of the dining room at all times. A mere glance from one of our party brought him table side. Eye contact was all that was required, and he immediately swung into action.

Why the talk of Eddie Merlot's? Something I read today made me think of that experience. The psalmist who penned Psalm 123 wrote:

I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We look to the LORD our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy, for we have had our fill of contempt. We have had our fill of the scoffing of the proud and the contempt of the arrogant.
Reading Psalm 123 made me wonder, am I as attentive to the Father as my Eddie Merlot's waiter was to me?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tracy is home . . .

Mrs. Frankly is back home after a rough week. She had surgery on Tuesday. She came home on Wednesday. She was home only one hour when she passed out and had to be returned to the hospital via ambulance.

She was bleeding internally and had to have another surgery on Wednesday night / Thursday morning. They found the "bleeder" and were able to get it stopped. She came home today. Nothing like a little stress on top of stress to raise the blood pressure.

Thanks for praying for Tracy and for me. We're grateful.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I'm reading Thomas Friedman's award winning book, From Jerusalem to Beirut. I was interested to read what he had to say about the victim mentality. Speaking of Menachim Begin's willingness to violently confront the PLO, Friedman wrote: "Someone who sees himself as a victim will almost never morally evaluate himself or put limits on his own actions. Why should he? He is the victim."

That made me think of something my friend Lee Bracey, Executive Director of Woodburn Christian Children's Home often says: "We're not raising victims, we're raising overcomers." I'm glad Lee and WCCH are raising overcomers. Maybe that is why their kids more often break the "victim cycle" from which they come.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Grieving goodbyes

Earlier tonight my two oldest children were upset and crying because they had a bad encounter with one of their friends. Usually chatty and interacting, their friend blew them off at a party. They wondered, "is he mad at us for moving?"

That got me to thinking about the five stages of grief. I wonder, do they apply to saying goodbye to people you love?
  1. Denial - They're not really moving away. They can't be.
  2. Anger - Why are they leaving? Where's their loyalty? Doesn't our friendship mean anything to them?
  3. Guilt - I wish we had spent more time together. If only I would have ______________.
  4. Genuine grief - In essence, a good cry.
  5. Resolution - I accept that the "status is no longer quo" and joyfully move on with life.
Tonight I tried to explain to Abby and Caleb that, when people say goodbye, they grieve the loss of that friendship. As they do, they go through various emotions like those listed above. They're not bad people, they're just hurting.

The time will come when all that remains is the joy of a lifelong friendship. I believe that. I hope my kids do, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Till my trophies at last I lay down . . .

Mrs. Frankly and I have spent the week getting ready for and now having a massive yard sale. We've been dragging . . . stuff . . . out of every nook and cranny of the Weller home. I had no idea how much . . . stuff . . . I had.

Tonight, as I was toting boxes out of the attic, I ran across a banana box filled with my old 4-H trophies. I've carted them from Indiana to Michigan and back to Indiana. We've been married twenty years, and this next move will be our twelfth (that's for you Scott and Sam). I've carried that same box each and every time.

I'm wondering . . . perhaps it's time I left the pig trophies behind. Or, should I lug them to Lansing once again? What say you faithful readers?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Our new castle

They say that a man's home is his castle. It looks as though our new chateau will be the home located at 201 Queen's Court in Grand Ledge, MI.

As most Frankly Speaking readers know, I have accepted the position of Senior Minister at South Lansing Christian Church in Lansing, Michigan. Consequently, we have been house searching for the past three weeks. We sifted through over a hundred listings in four school districts. We went through more than thirty homes. We finally settled on this beauty.
Our counter-offer was accepted Tuesday, and our financing was preapproved Wednesday, so it looks like we're all set.

It is easy to find (click here for the map), so we expect all our friends to come and visit. There is plenty of room, and the A&W is right across the street so we can enjoy a visit over a root beer float.

Please be praying that our home in Butler will sell quickly (we plan to list it on Monday), and that our closing in Grand Ledge will go off without a hitch. Then pray for the transition as we sell some of our stuff, pack the rest, and tote it 90 minutes north.

Ninety-eight percent

The vote was cast Sunday morning at South Lansing Christian Church. 98% of the assembled congregation voted to call me as their new Senior Minister. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the confidence placed in me. Better put, I am pleased that South puts so much trust in the leadership of their church. It is a testament to the elders and the search committee that so many voted to approve their unanimous recommendation for my candidacy.

Tracy and I will be formally announcing our decision to leave our Butler Church of Christ family this coming Sunday. It will be a hard day for us - one that is bitter and sweet.

We dearly love the brothers and sisters at Butler. But when God calls, you either go and experience the wonderful things He has in store for you, or you ignore Him and risk losing His blessing on your life. We're going to go.

Bringin' home the bacon . . .

My friends Todd and Pat Imhoff just opened their new store, IQ Meats. We stopped in last week and bought some bacon and steaks to take with us to the lake. Gooooood eatin! Their grand opening is this Saturday. I plan to stop in and pick up some meat for my annual Father's Day carnivore spectacular.

My advice to Frankly Speaking readers: do the same!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007

No small potatoes

Our Joshua's Men group is reading Point Man by Steve Farrar. Farrar quotes Donald McCullough in his book:
"We think we know what will secure greater happiness - marriage or divorce, a higher salary or professional recognition, steamier sex or deeper intimacy, a new faith or better spiritual experiences - the list is as long as humans are ingenious in imagining greener grass on the far side of the fence. But we don't realize how hungry we really are. Small potatoes won't satisfy. We need a banquet table that only God can spread."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Heading North to South

Earlier today the elders of Butler Church of Christ announced to our congregation that I will be preaching a "trial" sermon at South Lansing Christian Church next Sunday, June 10. For some, this came as quite a shock. Others began hearing whispers in the last few weeks, and our elders wanted to end any speculation that might distract from our church's mission. While we'll have to wait a week to learn if, in fact, I am called to South, the events of today compelled me to share some thoughts about this anticipated transition.

The decision to leave Butler might seem sudden, but it has been anything but.

Tracy and I began talking about 2007 late last year. For us, it promised to be a noteworthy year. In February we celebrated our tenth anniversary at Butler Church of Christ. Just last week both Tracy and I turned forty. In August we will commemorate twenty years of marriage. With all our "anums in alignment," Tracy and I began to pray about God's direction for our ministry. Was it his desire for us to remain at BCC? Or was it time for us to move on and begin a new chapter of our service to God's Kingdom?

In addition to praying we sought counsel from people we trust and admire. We asked them to pray. We listened.

Then, in late February, South's Associate Minister, Wally Lowman, called to ask if I was interested in discussing the Senior Ministry position at their church. Frankly, I was stunned. When I was an associate minister, I would average a phone call from another church about once every other month. But it had been ten years since another church seriously "courted" me.

Tracy and I prayed and talked, and decided to put Wally off until we completed our long anticipated mission trip to Haiti. While in Haiti, we continued to pray, and when we returned I phoned Wally. He asked how our trip went. After giving "Lowman the lowdown," he said something I later relayed to Tracy: "We have a group go to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission every year." For me, that was confirmation number one that maybe God was doing something. When I mentioned Wally's comment to Tracy she said, "Oh, don't tell me that!" She can recognize God's hand at work too, and she wasn't quite ready to call U-Haul.

Another confirmation came when Wally asked me if I was familiar with a discipleship process their leadership was working to implement. It is taken from a Thom Rainer book titled Simple Church. I nearly dropped the receiver. For the past several weeks I had been leading our church staff through a discussion of that book. At that point, we were already working to redefine our ministries in "Simple Church" concepts. Confirmation number two.

I agreed to meet with the search committee. Actually, finding a date when we could all connect was tough, but when we did, I was really blessed by our time together. They asked some tough questions. I asked some tough questions, too. We discussed South's mission, and I discovered that it is nearly identical to the mission I've been promoting at BCC for the last four years. By the end of the meeting I found myself making a subtle mental shift from, "God, are you doing something?" to "God, I hope you're doing something!"

The search committee told me that they wanted to make a unanimous recommendation to the elders at South. I expected to wait a couple of weeks before hearing anything. It took only two days.

We set up a meeting with the elders at South. Again, tough questions. One elder in particular, a 30 year Human Resources veteran at GM posed some difficult administration related questions. Another asked me to talk about my position on the role of women in the church. The time flew by, and before we knew it we had met for over two-and-a-half hours. Again, I anticipated hearing something in about a week.

Dick Novello, the chairman of the elders called me the next day to ask when I might be available to preach a trial sermon if, at their meeting later that night, the elders decided to recommend me to the congregation. Again, I saw God's hand at work.

There have been other confirmations, too. Larry Carter, the President of my alma mater, told me, "I believe you're the man for this job." His affirmation means a lot to me, and humbles me even as I write this. My GLCC English professor, George Brown, called to encourage me. George's opinion carries a lot of weight - not just for me - but for all who know him. Jeff Strickler, a guy I knew in college who now attends South, was an encouragement as was Ruth Doty, one of the kindest ladies I've known. Of course my buddy Fred and his wife, Mariah, have been an incredible support to us as has my long-time friend, Mike.

Let me give you one more signpost from God. We've been looking at houses and, on the recommendation from a friend, we contacted a particular realtor. Now, this friend doesn't attend South; he has just used Missy in the past with great results. We've traveled all over Holt and Grand Ledge with Missy, and she is a delightful person. It turns out she listed the last SLCC preacher's home. She even attended South at one time and told Tracy that she really needs to start going back to church. Tracy was happy to recommend she return to South and see us.

God, we're told, works in mysterious ways. Yet, I'm certain he also works in convincing ways. We're convinced this is God's plan for us.

It hasn't been easy, today. We've shed some tears, and watched our friends hurting. We wish we could wrap folks up and take them with us. But just as surely as God's plan for us is to move to Lansing, God's plan for Butler is to continue to connect with God, connect with people and serve the world. Somewhere right now, there is a pastor who is praying that God will reveal "what is next" for him. That pastor is about to be blown away by the providence of God and the goodness of the people at Butler Church of Christ.

I hope he enjoys the journey as much as I have.