One of Those I’m Thankful For Posts

10484490_10102688614791297_5549678902328058727_oI took my son Cal for a campus visit at the University of Missouri over the past weekend. My daughter Ruth is a sophomore there, so we were able to see her. We toured the campus, visited the Journalism School, ate at Shakespeares, Booches and Bangkok gardens, met roommates, were denied at the rec center, froze our booties off, slept on the floor and then slugged back in the Nov 16th snowstorm.

It’s great when you get to see your kids doing well. Ruth is fantastic. Cal is a senior at Harding and trying to figure out what to do next, which is as it should be. I don’t think he’ll make a bad choice and both Julie and I are thankful for God’s work in his life over these past few years.

Both Ruth and Cal heard me ooh and ah over the campus at Mizzou. I started as a freshmen there in 1989 – 25 years ago. They’ve made just a few improvements in those years. It’s an incredible place, and I’d love to attend there again.

I’m thankful for:

– My parents for encouraging me to go to Mizzou. I was the only one from my high school who went to Mizzou and I knew two people there.

– The men I met in Hatch Hall that freshmen year in 1989. Many of them moved into the dorms in order to meet and minister to freshmen just like me. Men like Brad, Matt, Corey, Dan, Al, Charlie, Boog and many others. I’m thankful for the others I met soon thereafter in the dorms and in ministry and life like Craig, Pete, Kent, Todd, Tim, Chris and others.

– The Navigators loved and nurtured me. They took me on ski trips, did Bible study with me, helped me memorized Scripture, kept me accountable, listen to me and tone down the crazy. Thanks to Larry Glabe for organizing that crew.

– I had other mentors, namely Billy Dempsey. Billy started RUF my senior year and I thought he was crazy (and told him so), but he stuck with me for years and years after. So gracious, kind, knowledgeable, persistent and grace-centered. I specifically remember watching the election returns come in at his house in 1992, playing snooker at Booches and arguing with him about how he needed to be more hard core about the spiritual disciplines.

Other mentors like Pete and Judy Summerville. They brought me in for their church’s Adopt A College Student program and we still keep in touch. I baby sat Caleb and Megan, played with legos, had a place to go study when I needed out of campus, took Julie to get their approval and was able to process a lot of things with them. They loved me far more than what was required.

– I’m thankful that I was able to find a best friend like Craig Dunham. Craig and I were randomly paired as sophomores in the dorms, and we stuck it out that year and the next two. He is one of the most passionate, creative, hard-working men I have ever met. He serves far beyond far beyond far beyond what is ever required. He will do whatever it takes to serve and love people. He loves to learn. I am proud to know him and I’ve been able to see these qualities – and more – since we were both 19 years old in 1990. It’s amazing that I still get to.

– As I have gone back to visit and explore, I’m more thankful for the Journalism School and how excellent it is. I think I took that for granted back then, perhaps especially because I didn’t ever actually go into the field. If I could go again, I would and this time I’d take more advantage of what a special place that is. They helped me more than I could ever know, even if I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.

– I loved taking naps and playing basketball every day. I loved eating all my meals in the dorms and never cleaning anything. I loved the freedom to walk around campus. I loved The Chez, Lakota Coffee Shop, the woods nearby and heading over to St Louis when I wanted to. I loved hanging out with people any time of day, playing Risk every night of finals, going on spontaneous road trips, trying out new things, my drawing class, and summers to work with youth groups. I loved going to football games (we were 3-8 all for years) and basketball games (we were number one many weeks especially my freshmen year with Anthony Peeler) and everything else I had the chance to do in college.

– I’m thankful that this is the place I met and fell in love with Julie Halbert. I was a complete idiot and she loved me anyway – and that’s still true. We had a ton of walks and talks and dates and arguments – and those are still true. I love her learning spirit and willingness to try new things – still true. I thought she was smart, funny and sexy then – still do.

– I’m thankful that God was with me. He brought me good friends, a good community, a very good wife. He taught me about himself. He led me all the way. There were things that weren’t as good but he even worked in those things.

– Now I’m thankful that Ruth gets to experience those things in a new way and I hope and pray she’ll have an even better time than I did. I’m thankful for Ross Dixon and Mizzou RUF. I’m thankful that God is still at work and he didn’t stop working there. I’m thankful that he’ll lead Cal to the right place whether it’s Mizzou or OU or somewhere else and that he’s not done with me either. I’m thankful that I’m here in Oklahoma City with and at City Pres and all that has happened to get me here in this place at this time in this way.

Headshot 2 Nicole Hager