1993? That was SO long ago

Seeger Chapel at Milligan College

As I’m sure you already know, the Hoosiers are Big Ten CHAMPS. And they aren’t sharing the title with anyone like they did back in 2002. This is the first time they’ve won a regular season title outright since 1993.

That was such a long time ago. But it was a very pivotal year for me.

Senior Picture
As I’ve mentioned before, Scott and Corri Brooks have a special role in my story because they were willing to invest time and energy into me as they continued to speak Truth into my life. They’re also a very crazy couple. Who in their right minds would think it would be fun to take a group of high schoolers into their homes every Wednesday evening? Who in their right minds would think it would be fun to take a group of high schoolers eight-ish hours away into the hills of Tennessee to visit their alma mater? I can’t think of many people who would honestly think of that as a good time.

Scott and Corri did.

OK…maybe they didn’t necessarily call it “fun”…but they did it. And that changed my life.

When we arrived at Milligan, we got a tour of the campus. I don’t remember how, but I came away with a free Milligan Buffaloes bandanna (and I didn’t even have to use twitter to win)!

After our tour, we went into the dorms to meet our hosts for the evening. I don’t know where the girls went, but the guys got to crash at Webb Hall. As we were dropping our sleeping bags and suitcases on the dorm room floor, I heard one of the guys we were staying with say to our campus guide, “We were thinking about taking them to Cheers.” Then he looked at us and said, “You guys want to go to Cheers with us?”

Remember, this was 1993. Everyone knew what Cheers was. It was where everybody knows your name.

It was also a bar.

“Um…” we said….”Sure?”

The next thing I knew, we were piling into a Webb resident’s car and heading off to the place where everybody knows your name. I must admit, I was pretty nervous. “What if they ask for ID? How are they going to let me in?” I thought to myself “And….what about the drinks? They’re not really going to offer me anything are they? I mean….this is a Christian college.”

Some of you might be rolling your eyes. That’s OK. I was pretty sheltered. By choice. I had access to alcohol in high school. I just chose to stay away from it. And I have no regrets. That’s why this was such a big deal.

My hands were shaking. I didn’t want to get busted. I couldn’t imagine having to try to call my dad and explain to him how I needed him to bail me out all the way down in Tennessee. That was going to be an unpleasant conversation, to say the least. But I also didn’t want to offend my hosts. After all, I was staying with them for the weekend.

We pulled into the parking lot and I wondered what was going to happen next. I checked my wallet. Yep. It still said I was under 21. This wasn’t going to end well. We met a carload of girls and started walking into Cheers. My hands were sweating. I tried to remain calm. I tried to find an “out.” I had no idea what they were going to do or how to sneak the whole lot of us in without someone questioning our age.

You have no idea how relieved I was when I found out that the Cheers in Johnson City, Tennessee, was merely a family restaurant with amazing cheesesticks.

A good, clean time was had by all.
My first visit to Milligan College

Then I had a good fall.

After an amazing weekend on an amazing campus, it was time to leave. Scott and Corri parked their van with the girls already loaded and ready to go. I was the last one to throw my luggage in the back of the van. As I closed the liftgate, I slipped in a puddle and got mud all over my jeans.

“Did you hurt anything?” Scott asked, trying not to fall over in laughter.

“No,” I replied. “Only my pride.”

And my pride was, indeed, wounded. You see, there was a girl on that van. I had been trying to impress her during the whole trip. Slipping and falling right in front of her definitely didn’t help matters, although I did manage to get her to go to prom with me. Kinda.

To add insult to injury, we listened to the IU game on the way home. They lost. To Kansas. In the tournament. Calbert Cheaney’s collegiate career was over. I was devastated. Let’s just say that I’m not hoping for a repeat of that game.

Fortunately, I had just discovered my new home. I knew I would be returning to Milligan as a student someday. I never really gave any other college a serious look. It was clear: I was going to be a Milligan Buffalo.

That trip was 20 years ago this month.

That was a long time ago. Or was it?

Why I Cried in Church Today

baptism water

I cried in church today. And I’m OK with that.

It happens every time there’s a baptism service. Of course, part of the reason the tears start to fall is because I’m reminded in a very powerful way about how deep and wide God’s love is for me. And then I remember two of the most amazing moments of my life: baptizing Aiden and then baptizing Aly a year later. Then I think of how I hope and pray that Mihret will choose to be baptized one day, which makes the tears flow even more freely.

baptism water

And then I think of other people I’ve had the honor of baptizing. People like David, Ginny, Peter, Jerry, Tom, and Jim.

This inevitably leads me to thinking about the people who had such an impact on my own story while I was growing up. Now, some may argue that I haven’t grown up. They’d probably be right. But that’s not the point. I’m talking about people who stepped in and made a difference in my life during my formative years.

I grew up in a God-fearing home. Some of my earliest memories revolve around church and being scared of the Preacher’s Wife because I thought she was mean to me when I had to sit by her during Sunday evening service. How dare she expect me to sit still and be quiet while the service was going on? Even with that legacy of faith that my parents established for me, I still had to take this faith I had inherited and make it my own story. I came to that realization because of people who surrounded me and encouraged me to make that faith my own.

So while I witnessed the baptisms today, I couldn’t help but think of the people outside my family that God has used in ways they can’t even imagine.

Cheryl Stroud led some pretty amazing children’s choirs and challenged me to be more than I thought I could be.

Todd Bussey baptized me, married me, and ordained me. I think you could say he’s a pretty special guy.

Dr. Gerhart (we always referred to him as “Mr. G.” in Scouting circles) has always encouraged me and challenged me to continue to work at becoming a better man as a leader and as a disciple. He has been a shining example for me, reminding me that scholarship and faith are not mutually exclusive. He also taught me how to worship God when surrounded by His creation.

Scott and Corri Brooks were like second parents to me during high school. A small group of us met in their house every Wednesday for the better part of four years. Their shared desire to follow Jesus at home and in the workplace couldn’t help but rub off on me.

There are other faces that show up in my mind’s eye, too. People like the Teskes, Nova Conner, Judy Taylor, Jack Arney, the Hedwalls, Jack Bruce, the Gowers, the Linges, Pam Jordan, the list can go on and on…

cloud of witnessesI guess you could say they are my own personal cloud of witnesses. God used them to shape my faith. God used them to shape my story. So I thanked God for them again today. I prayed for them again.

And yeah, I cried for them, too.

Who has had an impact on your faith? Who is in your cloud of witnesses?

baptism water