Then Andrew Peterson made me weep. Again.

Navigating our journey as newlyweds

During the fall of 1998, Christy and I were newlyweds on the campus of Milligan College. I was finishing up my final semester of classes and Christy was working at a local childcare center. We were young, in love, and broke (as opposed to being old[er], in love, and broke like we are now 😉 ). In many ways, this final semester of mine was like a minor diversion before we took off on our journey of life dancing in minefields together.

Wedding portrait

When we first arrived on campus, we were the celebrities. It’s one of the advantages of being part of a small college community. Professors went out of their way to come see us on move-in day. It was…nice. Actually, it was pretty cool. I’m not sure you’ll find that kind of “welcome back, newlyweds” reception on most college campuses around the nation. But Milligan is pretty special.

Of course, many of our college friends had graduated and moved away. School and work and figuring out how to do this thing called marriage together took a lot of energy. So we really didn’t spend much time hanging out with our friends who were still in the area. And with Married Student Apartments being on the edge of campus, it’s not like we were in the middle of the campus commotion.

Looking back, I feel like the colder months of that final semester, with the early nights and living on the edge of the  campus scene, it was kind of isolating. We didn’t really hang out with anyone else. Just each other. Don’t get me wrong. That was pretty awesome. But we were in a different life stage than the majority of the campus population. Even in classes, it felt like I didn’t really relate to any of the students anymore. It’s like I was just biding my time until it was time for us to move on. Continue reading “Then Andrew Peterson made me weep. Again.”

This is not the Rogue One post you’re looking for

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Rogue One a Star Wars Story movie Poster

A Star Wars Backstory:

Bear with me, this backstory is a little long. But it’s worth it. I think. In early 1997, George Lucas and friends released the Special Edition of the Star Wars (original) Trilogy. My friends and I geeked out. Many of us were too young to really remember watching A New Hope (still my favorite Star Wars movie) . We heard stories of people camping out in front of movie theaters to see Star Wars. Growing up, I thought that was pretty cool. As a child, I resolved to camp outside a movie theater in order to be one of the first to watch a Star Wars sequel.

For a moment, I considered camping out for the opening of the Special Edition. But I couldn’t. I had classes to attend and I couldn’t justify skipping class so early in the semester. So I did the next best thing. I served as a go-between for an underclassmen who did camp out the night before and a group of a dozen or so friends, including a professor (or two – I think). I placed the ticket orders and collected the money. He stayed out all night, got a special first-screening with employees, and was first in line to buy all of our tickets. Remember, this was long before the days of buying your tickets online.

To reward myself for coordinating such a logistical feat, I bought myself two tickets. One for the matinee showing of A New Hope with my buddy, Scott. The second one was for the showing immediately after the matinee. That one was with my good friend, Mike, and my roommate, Matt. I knew this would be a day long-remembered. So I wanted to do something extra-special and watch A New Hope twice in one night. It was my destiny.

Matt, Mike, Scott, and I were pretty good friends. They were even in our wedding.

our-wedding-party

It was only fitting that I celebrate this great night with all of them. Right?

Scott and I arrived early and grabbed the best seats in the house before everyone else showed up. The next thing I knew, our theater was packed and abuzz with excitement in anticipation of watching the film that defined an entire generation (or two) on the big screen. We even invited everyone to join us in singing happy birthday to our professor. It was the same professor who participated in my mass ticket buying extravaganza. Thinking back nearly twenty years later, I probably should’ve given him his ticket for free, since it was his birthday and all. Unfortunately, I don’t think I was very clear-headed at the moment. I mean, I was about to see STAR WARS ON THE BIG SCREEN!


Fandango - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Sweepstakes

So we sang, we laughed, and we waited. When the 20th Century Fox fanfare announced the film’s beginning, I’m pretty sure we clapped. And I was bouncing on my seat like a giddy schoolboy as the introductory paragraphs crawled across the starlit screen. I was in heaven. There were a few additions that bothered me (don’t get me started on the re-inserted Jabba scene or the Ronto, and can we please go back to Han shooting first? He was a scoundrel, after all), but I still loved watching the movie again. For the first time. Or something like that. It really was everything I had hoped it would be. And more.

As Scott and I left the movie theater, we were greeted with cheers and thunderous applause from a line of people. OK, thunderous might be a bit excessive. Work with me here. They were next in line to watch the movie. And they were just as excited as we were. There were high fives and claps of joy and still more cheering. It was quite a communal experience. I saw Matt and Mike in line so I scurried out the theater so I could re-enter the theater and take my rightful place by their side.

“WWJD?”

As I leaf the building, I stopped to talk to Christy and our friend Angie. They he’d just finished watching a non-Star Wars related movie. I don’t remember which one. I bet they don’t, either. Because this was Star Wars night. That was all that mattered.

So I was talking to Christy and Angie for a moment when I overheard another Milligan student say that Star Wars was sold out for the night and he couldn’t get a ticket. He was walking toward the parking lot and was obviously pretty bummed.

So I stopped talking to Christy. “I’ll be right back,” I said.

“What are you doing?” Angie asked. “Are you giving him your ticket?”

“It’s what Jesus would do,” I said as I walked toward him.

I have no idea if that’s what Jesus would do or not, if I’m going to be honest. I’m not sure if Jesus really cared that I sold the guy my ticket at face-value. But I did it. And I wound up standing up two of my good friends on an important night. After giving him the ticket, I went back in and broke the news to Matt and Mike.

They were bummed. I was bummed. I had been looking forward to watching it with them. Since we’re being honest, I found myself questioning this decision all night long.

Renewed buzz. And hope.

Almost twenty years later, Star Wars fandom was abuzz once again. This time, it wasn’t a re-release. It wasn’t even a new episode in the Star Wars saga. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story promised to be different. It centered on an entirely new set of characters. As a stand-alone film, it also promised a grittier feel than the Star Wars saga. With fresh blood in the creative team, it had the potential of infusing some new, energetic, and creative juice into the Star Wars film franchise. It also promised a hearty amount of nostalgia.

The nostalgia was there. In droves. The ships, weapons, sets, costumes, overall design, and, of course, the storyline all tied directly into A New Hope. There were a lot Easter eggs and cameos that tie this film directly into the Original Trilogy. But I stopped counting them because I lost track.

I have a few problems with some of the special effects efforts. But since I want this to be spoiler-free, I’m not going to go into any more detail than that. These concerns, however, are minor in the grand scheme of the film. It’s nothing atrocious like Jar Jar Binks or Greedo shooting first or the introduction of midichlorians. So we’re good.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Tickets

A reunion at Rogue One

Through a series of events beyond my control, I wound up with a group of people at the opening of Rogue One, sitting right beside my old college roommate. We entered a new age of Star Wars films with the arrival of stand-alone “Star Wars stories” together. So while I might not have shared in the revival of Star Wars on the big screen almost twenty years ago, I did get to usher in this new era. It will be a day long remembered, for sure.

With my reputation of taking selfies before people knew what selfies were, you’d think I would have thought to take a selfie with Matt while we were together. Unfortunately, I didn’t. So you’re going to have to settle for this one:

star-wars-selfie

As we sat through the closing credits, I turned to Matt and said, “That was amazing. In fact, t was so amazing that I don’t think I want to watch it again.” This puts the film in some pretty rare air. I think only Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List fall into that category. Now that the dust has settled, I don’t think it’s quite on that level of film, but it’s still pretty great. And I’m ready to see it again.

Does this make me excited for the upcoming stand-alone movies? I’m not sure. I think the thing that made this film so special is that it didn’t include any of the regular characters from the saga as the main characters in Rogue One. A Han Solo film might not be as magical. I hope I’m wrong.

Because Rogue One was pretty special. I’d love to see that magic happen again.

Have you seen Rogue One yet? What did you think? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets today.

“She’s NOT my girlfriend!”

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20 years ago today, I found myself walking through a field near Wilmore, Kentucky with a girl I had a HUGE crush on. A group of us from Milligan had made the trek from Tennessee’s fair eastern mountains to my friend, Scott’s, hometown. Scott lived a mere hop, skip, and jump away from the granddaddy of all Christian music festivals: Ichthus Music Festival. So we crashed at his house and spent the day Saturday listening to band after band after band. I honestly don’t remember many of the bands we listened to that day. We did get to hear Rich Mullins, which was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m pretty sure I listened to a band called The Choir. They had a really cool shirt with something that looked like a flying frog on it. I bought that and wore it until it literally fell apart.

VenueKings.comThat’s about it.

I’m sorry I don’t remember much about the bands. If you performed that weekend and I saw you, I’m sorry. I’m sure you were great. My attentions were kind of focused elsewhere. I couldn’t believe this girl wanted to hang out with me and walk around the festival with me and share a snack with me. We might have even held hands a time or two. I was in heaven.

Yeah, there were some awkward moments. We hadn’t exactly expressed our affections for each other yet, but everyone knew. Shoot, even one of the guys in one of the food trucks could tell. He told me I should buy some food for my girlfriend.

“She’s NOT my girlfriend!”

I snapped back at him. Yeah. Smooth move there, Casanova. They should’ve called me Rico Suave.

Me and Christy at Milligan

In spite of my ineptitude, that girl still hung out with me after I shouted down that poor food on a stick salesman. And now, 20 years later, it’s a lot less awkward. I love hanging out with her and we don’t worry if anyone sees us hold hands. We’ve traveled the world together and we have four amazing kids. Yeah, it was awkward in Wilmore, Kentucky. But I’m incredibly thankful that she stuck around. We’ve been on an amazing journey together and I’m excited beyond words to discover the next chapter of our life together.

Self portrait me and Christy at Audio Adrenaline concert

Man….

20 years…

Has it really been that long? It feels like a lifetime and a blink of an eye all wrapped into one. And I can’t believe I get to share it all with her every day for the rest of my life.

Thank you, Peyton.

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Thank You Peyton

I have been a Peyton Manning fan ever since I was in college. He was in college, too. We went to school less than two hours away from each other. Of course, he had no idea who I am. Never did. And that’s OK.

Because I sure knew who he was.

I remember when he announced he was sticking around the University of Tennessee for senior year. It was a big deal. And the news spread throughout East Tennessee like wildfire. I also remember hearing about the giant “Thank you, Peyton!” billboard that some Vol fans had installed.

Take Home a Piece of H18TORY - Shop for Exclusive Autographed Peyton Manning Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.com

My dad was a fan of Tennessee football. So, naturally, I became a fan of Tennessee football. Growing up, I cheered for them (except when they played Indiana ). It was easy to continue cheering for Tennessee while I was at Milligan.  Continue reading “Thank you, Peyton.”

Love, heartbreak, and our humanity.

Love, Heartbreak, and our Humanity

Senior Year. High School. Creative Writing Class.

I walked hand-in-hand with my girlfriend as I headed for class. My Creative Writing teacher looked on as we said our goodbyes as we went our separate ways, already counting down the minutes until we’d see each other again during the next passing period. The bell rang and I sat down at my desk. There were seven of us in the class. To say we were an eclectic bunch would be an understatement.

Mr. Hughes (of the Great Celebrate the Lord Love Debate) completed his hall monitoring duties and began class.

“Was that your girlfriend?” he asked. At least, I think that was what he said. To be honest, I didn’t really think he was talking to me so I wasn’t really paying much attention because it felt like I was eavesdropping. But he was talking to me.

“She’ll break your heart, you know.” Thanks for the vote of confidence there, I thought. Then he clarified, “Because all relationships end in heartbreak.” And then he went about his business, opening up some kind of discussion about writing or storytelling or something along those lines.

I was really bothered by that statement. It felt so…dark. So…defeatist. Continue reading “Love, heartbreak, and our humanity.”

3 decisions I regret

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken

We make decisions every day. Most of these decisions are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – Do I want waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Should I get my gas at Speedway or Circle K? Should I wear argyle or striped socks? You know. Pretty mundane stuff.

But there are other decisions that we make that can stay with you forever. They can keep you up at night. They can haunt you in the middle of the day. They sometimes pop up in regular, everyday conversations. You can’t get away from these decisions.

I’m not talking about life-altering things like getting behind the wheel while you’re under the influence or choosing to marry someone. Those are life-altering decisions. I’m talking about other decisions. They might not alter the course of human civilization, but they still cause you to break out in a cold sweat when you think about what you did or didn’t do. They’re decisions you look back on and ask yourself, “Why? Why did I choose to do it that way? Why didn’t I choose to go the other direction as I stood at that fork in the road?”

As I look back on the decisions I’ve made, there are three choices that stand out. And when I think about them, I often wonder, “Man, why didn’t I take advantage of that opportunity?”

These were big decisions in my life. They’re landmarks on my journey of life. But they’re also relatively inconsequential in the grand story of life. They were fun things I could have done. I’m not talking about the really big regrets that I might have. You know, like dating that one girl in high school. Or cheating on a girlfriend while on a school trip out of town. Or leaving the youth ministry position that I had in Kentucky the way I did. Those are big things. They’re life-altering decisions that I’m not really dwelling on. Those things were much more complicated.

These? They’re more…simple…I guess. And I still regret them.

Simple Regret #1: The Corvette (non)incident

One weekend while at Milligan, my roommate’s parents were in town. You remember my roommate, right? Matt – aka Little Matt. He’s the guy who made us sit together on that one fateful Valentine’s Day evening oh so long ago.

Anyway, his parents were in town for the weekend. Through some kind of perk with his company, Mr. Good was able to drive a Corvette for his own personal use for a while. He brought it down to Milligan for the visit.

I don’t remember why I was in the car with them or where we were going, but I do remember Mr. Good pulling over to the side of the road. He put the car into park and turned around to say something to me.

“You want to take it for a quick drive?” he asked me.

I was shocked. I had a split second to make a decision. I didn’t know what to do.

So I said no.

I.said.no.

A college kid turned down an opportunity to drive a ‘Vette through the mountains of Tennessee. Are you kidding me? What was I thinking?

I had a headache that afternoon. So that was my reason. And while I understand that, it was a pretty lame excuse. Don’t you think?

I’m still kicking myself over that decision. It doesn’t really matter if I have other opportunities to drive a sports car like that. I still passed this one up like a bonehead.

Simple Regret #2: “Houston, we have a problem”

Remember when the space shuttle program was retired? I do. Because I passed up the opportunity to watch a shuttle land for the last time. Ever.

If you’re a longtime reader of this site (thank you for sticking with me, by the way), you might remember how I struggled with this decision quite a bit. I had some work-related responsibilities that I probably could’ve rearranged if I had pushed hard enough. In retrospect, I probably should’ve moved heaven and earth so I could go.

After all, they wound up firing me a few months later anyway.

When I mentioned this decision to Aiden a few weeks ago, he looked me in the eye and said, “What were you thinking, Dad?”

I’ve been asking myself the same thing ever since I skipped out on the landing.

What was I thinking?

Regret #3: “Go go go Matty…er…JOSEPH…”

The Spring musical during my senior year of high school was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In the weeks leading up to opening night, it was decided that they needed some more guys to join the cast. An call was sent far and wide throughout the hallowed halls of Harry High.

I could’ve auditioned. Most of my friends were already in the musical – either in the orchestra or up on stage. It would’ve been fun. I already knew all of the songs. I had been listening to the soundtrack nonstop for at least a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t have had to dance, really. And that was a good thing. You really, really don’t want to see me try to dance. They just needed more able bodies to be an Egyptian guard or one of Jacob’s sons, or some other extra up on stage.

I didn’t do it. I didn’t even express any hint of interest at all.

There’s an amazing feeling when you connect with an audience while you’re performing. I’ve had it happen while playing my tuba. I have no doubt there would’ve been a similar feeling while standing on stage during my senior year of high school. And it would’ve been pretty special to have shared that experience with my friends who were already in the musical.

But I didn’t.

And I still don’t know why I didn’t even bother to try.

I think that’s what bugs me more than anything else. I didn’t even try.

Get your story off your chest.

What decisions have you made that you still kick yourself over? What makes you stay awake at night wondering what might have been? Sharing those stories can be therapeutic. But don’t life solely in the past. Learn from those missed opportunities and keep moving forward. Because we cannot change the things that happened in the past. We can only influence things that happen today. Let’s make today better than yesterday.

What are you doing to make your life better today?

 

Confessions of an Addict

Confessions of a Star Wars Addict

by Will Oates

For most of the 80s I was totally addicted.  I couldn’t conquer my addiction, and I didn’t really want to.  It was a fantastical groovy trip every time I revisited it.  The colors, the sounds, the rush.  Many didn’t understand my addiction, but there were others who were into the the epic scene I was taken in by.  If you were born in the mid 70s or 80s you, like me, may have tried this drug and were addicted too. You are probably also blown away when people tell you that they haven’t even tried it or, if they have tried it, they didn’t find it appealing.  Of course the drug I speak of is, was, and shall be Star Wars.  It was giant space cruisers knocking each other back and forth with laser bolts. It was people saying things I didn’t understand like “kessel run,” “parsecs,” “S-foils.” It was guys with names like Wedge, Porkins, Lando and Jabba.  There were X-Wings, Y-Wings, Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers and of course the Falcon.  And there were midichorians…..OK maybe not the last one so much, but you know what I am talking about if you were hip to the scene.

There has always been something about the original Star Wars movies that resonates with my soul.  I am not by any means a total prequel hater. They had their moments, although they do pale in comparison.  I think being raised in a Christian home, in a small midwest farm town with one blinking red light, I could relate in a big way to many of the classic themes and characters that Star Wars brought forth in a new appealing way.  It is a classic story, nothing particularly new.  A kid from the backwater goes out to win the ultimate battle of good vs. evil and learns valuable lessons along the way.  It clicked with me.  Of course as a kid I thought Han Solo was so cool- he had a cool dog, cool ride, cool gun, cool smirk, and said cool stuff like- “don’t get cocky kid,” “flying through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops” or “one thing’s for sure we’re all gonna be a lot thinner.”  I wanted to be that smooth, but realistically I was probably more like Luke.  Clueless, awkward, frustrated, and sometimes whiny but eager for something bigger.  I still think Han is the coolest, but Luke had to learn many of the lessons I had to learn- patience, confidence, trust in a power outside of himself, love for friends and family, and just finding his way to maturity.  Luke had the biggest transformation from New Hope to Jedi.  As I have matured and continue to mature, I see that change in myself.  I strive to learn more and become a better person.  I still haven’t mastered my own lightsaber or used the force to get the remote, but I am growing up and still have a lot to learn on my life journey.  Now I understand life is a journey and there will be successes and failures.

As much as I related to Luke, I was terrified of Vader.  He was and continues to be the ultimate bad guy.  My dad hung Star Wars lobby cards in my room as a kid.  As much as I wanted them to be there at bedtime, I couldn’t handle Vader looking down at me as he surveyed the carnage on Tantive IV.  I gave into my fear and the stills had to be taken down.  I was like the guys on the star destroyer that were curiously watching Vader force choke a commander but quickly scurried away when it was over.  He was mysterious and commanding, but you couldn’t look away.  No one could talk back to him except for some reason Boba Fett, Moff Tarkin and the Emperor.  I always wondered why that was, but that’s a question for a different day.  Vader’s journey is as important as Luke’s.  A man so lost he forgot who he was, but the love of his son brought him back.  I can’t relate to being that lost but I do know I constantly fail and love brings me back.

There are many other characters and life lessons that come from Star Wars for me but growing up, love and redemption are the ones that always ring true.  I treasure the Star Wars films and will continue to do so.  They have this uncanny ability to bring people together, and I think that is ultimately what I love so much about them.  I’ve stood in unbearable lines at two Star Wars Celebrations in Indianapolis but gabbing and joking with fellow fans made the wait worthwhile.  At college, my good friend Noelle begged and begged the pimple faced usher to let us into the press screening of Star Wars Special Edition a night early.  He finally relented, we got in, I got to see New Hope on the big screen for the first time and she promptly fell asleep.  I got to go the next night and see it again with a theater full of fellow fans from Milligan College and it was amazing.  There are so many other fond memories of Star Wars and friends.  I can’t wait to further share my Star Wars adventures with my 2 year old son and my daughter.  I hear Episode VII may have a major young female character; I hope she can relate.  My son Liam has a blanket from Celebration Europe with the A-Z’s of Star Wars.  We’re working the characters- so far we have Vader, Chewbacca, D2, and Trooper down.  He’s my padawan and I hope he finds as many great friends and great times in name of Star Wars as I have.  I could continue on with memories but I will end with this this quote from one of my favorite bands Gaelic Storm. They sum up my Star Wars experience the best, “if good times were dollars I would be a millionaire” If I had a buck for every great Star Wars friend or experience I’ve had, I’d be rich.  The good thing is that I’m not like Han in this respect “if money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.”  In the end even Han realized it was more about friends than it was the payoff.

*********************************

Will and I met at Milligan. We have two very strong bonds: Star Wars and intramural softball. We were on the same team for a couple of years and while I don’t want to toot my own horn, the Quaker Oats were pretty good. As I plotted out what I was going to do in recognition of Star Wars MONTH, I knew I needed to have Will share his story. As you can see, I wasn’t wrong. Thanks, Will, for sharing your story!

If you, dear reader, have a story to tell about your Star Wars experience, I’d love to hear it! Shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling!

A glimpse of Heaven at Milligan Homecoming

In I’ve heard it said that Heaven is a long “hello.” I’m not here to debate the theology of that statement, but when you take into account that saying “goodbye” is so difficult and the book of Revelation says there will be no more tears or mourning or crying or pan, it’s hard for me to say that this statement is too far off.

And if that statement is true, I feel like we had a little taste of Heaven during Milligan’s Homecoming weekend. It was a weekend full of reunions and introductions and saying “hello” to long-lost friends. Here’s just a glimpse of the people and places we said “hello” to during Homecoming…

Bays Mountain State Park

Christy used to bring the kids here while we were in our grad school era of Tri Cities living (as opposed to the BK – Before Kids –  undergrad era of Tri Cities living).  We had to go back to Bays Mountain to say hello to the wolves, deer, and predatory birds. Of course, we also had to ask the fox what he says.

Pondering what the fox say

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Deer at Bays Mountain State Park
These deer were so calm that they barely even noticed the small group of paparazzi who had gathered to take their picture.

The food

Although Cheers is long and gone, many of the old stand bys that have become closely associated with Milligan we still around. And it was a beautiful thing to be reunited with them.

Firehouse

We met Melissa/Bob/Miss Awissa at Firehouse for some Southern barbecue that was out of this world. I don’t think I really appreciated Firehouse while we lived there because… well… it wasn’t Shyler’s. I guess you could say my palate has matured because there’s plenty of room on my plate for both barbecue (assuming Shyler’s does eventually reopen).

Christy insists on eating her pulled pork with slaw. That’s probably the “right” way to eat it, but I don’t understand why one would want to mess with perfection.
Firehouse BBQ in Johnson City, TN

Pal’s

Not only is Pal’s tasty, but it seems they’ve hired some mind readers, too…

Misaki

I wish they would bottle that shrimp sauce so we could bring it home…
Misaki

Misaki
Unfortunately, they don’t. Oh well. I guess that just means we’ll have to go back soon.

Bojangles

No trip to the South is complete without at least one meal that includes Bo-Berry biscuits from Bojangles.
Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits

Church Friends

I wish we had time to meet with more people from our old Southside/Summit Church, but it was great to get together with some former members of the Wandering Church of the Nomad.
Homecoming 2013  Homecoming 2013

That’s our Goddaughter on the trampoline. She’s dressed up like a fairy princess. I think. And she’s practicing so she’ll be able to learn how to fly. Since she’s our Goddaughter, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. Should it? It’s just par for the course.

And Miss Awissa/Bob/Melissa would like for me to inform you that no, she is not pulling Mihret’s arms out of her sockets. They’re dancing to music that wasn’t playing. That’s kind of par for the course, too.

The Kids and Their Old New Friends

It was amazing watching our kids play together. Some of them met for the very first time. Some hadn’t seen each other in quite a while – and most of them probably didn’t really remember each other. But they played and played and played. It was heartwarming to see them play like they’d known each other all their lives.

Homecoming 2013

Tossing a stuffed buffalo at Milligan Homecoming 2013

football at Hoover Farm

The Hoover Farm

Heather and Randy invited us to their farm for a bonfire. It was great spending more time with everyone and it was just a little bit reminiscent of the bonfires we used to have at Milligan – without the kids running around and playing, of course.

Toasted Marshmallows - Milligan Homecoming 2013

Aly met a real live Tennessee Fainting Goat

Buffalo Creek

We walked along the banks of Buffalo Creek for some family pictures. I couldn’t help but remember and pray for the guys I had baptized in that creek more than a decade ago.

Buffalo Creek

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

I think the weekend convinced Aiden to consider attending Milligan (years down the road when it’s time for him to start looking seriously at college. I know it’ll be here before we know it though). Until I opened my big mouth and talked about the tradition of throwing a guy in the Creek after he gets engaged. Now I think we’re back to square one with him.

Aiden at Buffalo Creek - Milligan Homecoming 2013

Of course, since Milligan doesn’t have a football team, our efforts might be futile anyway.

Vespers

Milligan students of the mid to late 90s gathered with their families in Lower Seeger for a night of Vespers, not unlike the services we used to have every Sunday evening while we were students. It was moving beyond words.

I don’t know why it took us 15 years to decide to do something like this, but I pray that this will become a regular part of Homecoming weekends in the future.

Seeger Chapel

After the amazing Vespers service, we had to take a quick walk through the Chapel. The kids, however, weren’t satisfied with just a walkthrough. They had to jump on stage.

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

We left Tennessee’s fair eastern mountains with our hearts full and already looking forward to the next time we’ll be able to say “hello” while standing in the shadow of Buffalo Mountain.

This is dedicated to all the teachers in my life

Dear Teachers

This post is for all the teachers in my life, past and present.

Teachers like the late Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Stewart, Mr. Cates, the late Mrs. Brown, Mr. Eiffler, Frau French, Mrs. Kuhn, Mr. Briel, Mrs. Goebel, Mrs. Mautz, Mr. Hughes, Frau Blice, and

Professors like Dr. Montgomery, Terry Mattingly, Dr. Higgins, Mr. Helsabeck, Dr. Roberts, Dr. Wasem, Dr. Rollston, Dr. Ramsaran, Dr. Shields, and Dr. Blowers…

Friends like Leigh, Amanda, Alicia, Scott, Jennifer, Christy, Mark, Heather, Heather, Valicia, and Matt…

Family members like Liz, Aunt LeeAnn, and Kara…

and, of course, Christy, who is my favorite teacher ever…

Thank you for making my world awesome!