Sunday, June 30, 2019

Missing Texas and One of My Favorite People

I've blogged on and off for years (more off in recent years), and always struggled with what I wanted to write about--sports, faith, family, music, movies...

Recently it hit me what I want to write about; what I need to write about. People. The hundreds of people who have impacted my life. I am who I am because of them. The memories that have meaning in my life are because of the people with whom I've walked through life's experiences and adventures.

For some reason I've been really nostalgic for Fort Worth lately. Lately I've missed it even more than usual, and really long to go there.

I want to take my kids there and show them the places I used to go--Hope Church, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, the Ballpark in Arlington, Gateway Park where we played softball, the Stockyards, Sundance Square, Grapevine Mills, and more fantastic restaurants and coffee shops than I can remember.

All those great places were special because of the people I was with in those places--friends from Hope, from the ballpark, the great guys with whom I umpired, a few strong, patient women I dated, and most of all the kids I taught and the people I taught with at Heritage Christian Academy. I loved those days, year after year. I loved watching "my kids" grow up and become successful in so many ways. I loved spending time with families that took me in as one of them.

I'd like to use this blog to tell the stories of the people that have impacted my life--or at least the parts where I got to be part of their stories.

Me and Mike Poff, Cracker Barrel February 2019

I'm going to start randomly with Mike Poff. Not too random--Mike was a big part of my life for many years; and still is.

I met Mike in the summer of 1992. I had moved to Fort Worth to go to seminary, and had been encouraged by some friends in Virginia (Rusty Coram, Chris Hough) to check out Hope Church. I had met pastor Harold Bullock at a retreat when I was in college, and was intrigued. Hope had a fantastic reputation as a church that was effectively reaching non-Christians and bringing them into the church.

Within the first week or two in Fort Worth I went to a newcomer's lunch after Sunday worship at Hope. Mike was helping out at the lunch. We ended up sitting next to each other and quickly learned we were both from Virginia. We discovered we had a lot in common--sports, movies, etc.

We quickly became good friends, and Mike has been a true friend for 27 years now; half my life! We were not just friends, but also ministry partners, softball teammates, and even roommates for a time in Fort Worth. Mike was one of those guys I knew I could always count on. He was always there for me, through some real ups and downs.

He is often hard on himself when we talk about a challenging situation we had to work through when we were roommates (a situation I created), but truth is he handled it well. We both made mistakes, but we gave and received grace, and our friendship grew stronger. He has continued to encourage and challenge me for years.

I moved from Texas back to Virginia in 2002, and Mike followed soon after, becoming pastor at a church near where I lived. He and his lovely wife Anna are still there. We've spent a lot of time together over the years, and have always had incredible conversations; often while watching baseball games. Even since I moved to Washington, we talk often, Mike's is still one of the first voices I seek when I need guidance.

In recent years we have built a wonderful tradition of lunch at Cracker Barrel whenever I am in Virginia. I love and appreciate you, Brother!