Monday, May 15, 2017

My Preacher Man Nephew

Two weekends ago (meaning the first weekend in May), we went to Houston for Youth Sunday at Troy and April's church.  Avery was chosen by his Youth Minister to share a testimony and God's Word during the service.  He began working on his "sermon" a few months ago, and we were really looking forward hearing him bring it.
We headed over on Friday and spent part of the afternoon at the Kemah Boardwalk.  It was a neat little place to waste some time while we were waiting to check-in to our hotel.   
I'm not sure why my children think they need to hug every shark and large sea creature they come across, but they do. 
We went to the aquarium to feed the stingrays.  Now.  By feeding stingrays, I had in mind those hard pellets of food you get at the zoo to throw to the ducks and the fish.  But, alas, that's not the diet of stingrays.  Nope.  Instead we were handed a little tray of smelly, slimy, sardine-looking fish.  Real ones.  I mean, they were dead.  But they were real.

Those stingrays must've been really hungry.  They were practically jumping up out of the pool.
As soon as we got to the hotel, the kids claimed their beds and crawled in and turned on the television.  They love hotel rooms.  I mean, who needs Disney World when you can have the Holiday Inn? 
On Saturday we attend Avery and Beau's concert band concerts at the University of Houston.  Beau plays the trombone in the middle school band.  You can see him there on the back row, the first trombone on the left side of the conductor.   
I have to say the band sounded really good!  Beau will move on up to high school now, and he's decided to lay his trombone aside so he can have more time to focus on golf. 
And then it was Avery's turn.  These kids are very talented, and the entire band was very impressive. 
Maybe Avery will play his saxophone in the marching band at Baylor. 
And then Sunday morning we headed to church to hear my preacher man nephew share the Word. 
He spent three months or so preparing for this day, and he was mentored by his Youth Pastor.  It was a very organized, detail oriented process.  I also have to say right here just how much I appreciate and admire those youth pastors who are pouring themselves into the students of today and discipling them.  They are real difference makers and kingdom builders, and their ministry is invaluable in the Church.  So you need to right now honor your Youth Pastor and tell him/her how much you appreciate them!  

I asked Avery at Easter what Scripture he was using, and he said he was starting with Abraham's story in Genesis and throwing a little bit of 1 Corinthians and James in there, too.  So that was all I knew.

And let me tell you something.  I couldn't be more proud of Avery!  He nailed it.  He started out by talking about what a die-hard LSU fan he was and his parents were.  So his plan all along was to attend college at LSU.  But the one thing he just couldn't figure out what his major.  And you know why?  Because going to LSU wasn't God's plan for him.  God has called him to Baylor University where he will be a freshman this fall majoring in entrepreneurial studies.  So he has realized that as much as he had his heart set on LSU, all the years he thought that's where he would go after high school, God had a DIFFERENT plan for him.
And, oh, how I just had to chuckle.  It reminded me of all the many times in my life that God's plan has been different for me than my own.  Hello, Louisiana.  Homeschooling.  Seriously.

I took notes on Sunday morning.  And I told Avery I took notes.  Because in a couple of years, maybe sooner or maybe later, I'd be reminding him about what he said.  He told me he'd probably never forget it.  And, being the annoying Aunt I am, I told him I'd be reminding him anyway because it is most important, most imperative that he DOES NOT FORGET and that he LIVES IT OUT.

In the words of Avery (with my thoughts in parentheses):

God has the perfect plan for us.

"Now the LORD had said to Abram:  "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.""  ~Genesis 12:1-2

Every time God makes a promise like this (see above), something EPIC happens.  (I mean, I think the word "epic" is totally overused these days, but it's spot on here!)  How many times does God have a BETTER plan for us?  (Huh.  Truth.)

"But as it is written:  "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.""  ~1 Corinthians 2:9

God's plan for me was not LSU.  God had a different plan.  And God's different and better plan will always test your faith.  Abraham had to wait TWENTY FIVE YEARS for the promise!  And then, in Genesis 22, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son!  God works in ways we don't always expect.

""For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD."  ~Isaiah 55:8

I don't need to understand God's plan.  I don't always need to know.  I just need to trust.  (Man, that's hard, isn't it?!  I have to remind myself ALL THE TIME that, even though I don't know, God knows.  He does!  And absolutely nothing takes Him by surprise.  So I can trust Him.)

God's plan is ALWAYS better.  

(I have to constantly remind myself of this one, too.  Because here's the deal.  I can either do it my way.  Or God's way.  I can do it my way.  Or I can do it the BEST way.  I can do it my way.  And fail.  And totally miss out on the best.   Or I can do it God's way and watch Him work in ways on my behalf that I can't even imagine!  The choice is mine.  And the choice is yours.  Avery made his choice.  And I couldn't be more proud and honored to call him my nephew and to be a small part of his journey!)

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