Friday, August 27, 2010

A New Day at ACU

My weekend in Abilene was awesome. It kicked off with a bang. David and Karise Gililland and their adorable children picked me up at the airport (they drove in from Fort Worth so we could have a couple of hours together. Love them!) and we immediately went to Harold's BBQ Pit. It's a hole in the wall and easily the best BBQ in Abilene or just about anywhere. It's a landmark not to be missed in Abilene.

Harold's looks the same as it did more than 20 years ago. There's something comforting in that. Harold came out to greet people and I had David snap our photo...




David, Karise and I went up to the ACU campus to walk around. It had been a while since I had been there. Lots of changes, lots of building, lots of improvements. It was good to be back in Wildcat country.

After ACU, we dropped by Sam Thomas Elementary--named after my father. It was built the year after he died. Hard to believe it's been almost 20 years. They are the Thomas Texans. My kids have Thomas Texans t-shirts that they wear frequently in honor of "Poppy".

Cyndi is the new principal at Thomas Elementary this year. Cam Hurst retired last year (Cam and my dad were good friends). It was cool to meet Cyndi and get to tell her a little of the history. We made some plans to bring back the family for the 20th anniversary in a couple of years.

David and I posed outside the school. I love this Thomasville sign!


Saturday afternoon the Gilillands dropped me off at the Fishers. Craig (one of my college roommates whom you've read plenty about here over the years) and Beth Ann and their boys (Riley and Owen) were a sight for sore eyes. We all went to the ACU Inauguration dinner that night honoring Phil Schubert, the 11th President of ACU. (Phil was only one year ahead of me in school. Yeah...he's YOUNG!) I love this picture...Craig, Grant Boone and me. Grant is just being Grant.

One of my mom's best friends, Kaye Hawkins, was there so we had to snap a picture. Fish decided to pop in at the last minute.

Craig and Beth Ann Fisher, Tim and Angie Martin and I all had a blast catching up.

Sunday morning I led worship at Highland. It was Jonathan Storment's first Sunday to preach at Highland (their new senior minister). It was a weekend of firsts. Jonathan was incredible! After church we went to another Abilene staple...Casa Hererra...with Kyle and Camille Dickson and their kids. Kyle and I have been friends since we were about 4 years old. (down in the front corner you can see Owen giving us the "tickle fox" sign...see next picture for more info!)

Riley and Owen Fisher are both great kids. I always love getting to stay in their house or be around them. Years ago when Riley was little we made up this character called the "tickle fox". So every time I see them we have to reminisce about the tickle fox.

For the Inauguration prayer breakfast I put together a dream team of singers. These friends are people I've sung with over the years and all associated with ACU. It was a total blast getting to be with them all again. Pictured L-R are Jeff Nelson (music pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio with Max Lucado), Jennifer Money Crisp (who I travelled and sang with while in college), Kellie Curtis Miller (we also travelled and sang together through college and did some recordings together with Covenant and Jeff), Kristin Ward (she and I were Sing Song hosts together), Amy Boone (who's been like family to me since 7th grade), Mark Perkins (killer voice and friend from Southern Hills), Stephen Bailey (college roommate, Sing Song host with me, and brother), George Pendergrass (of Acappella fame and a friend from Southern Hills), and me.

After the breakfast we went to ACU Opening Day Chapel and Inauguration ceremonies. The Parade of Flags (which Jeff Nelson instituted back in the 80s) is one of my very favorite traditions.


Phil was inaugurated and gave a wonderful speech kicking of ACU's 105th year.


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For the Inauguration Breakfast which had about 400 people, we sang an old Steve Green song called "Find Us Faithful". (my boss, Gary, informed me that it wasn't THAT old...he sang on that project. I'm just sayin'. Love ya, Gary) The sound is low in the first couple of seconds on this clip. The back story is...during my part of the verse I was singing the lyrics... "May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover..." Jeff stopped me to say that it sounded like I was singing "mammaries". Thankfully, I changed that. This is a family show.

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As I mentioned, the parade of flags at opening day chapel has long been one of my favorite traditions. Flags from every country and state representing ACU students is announced. ACU does pomp and circumstance well. And...whenever I have talked about the parade of flags, I always imitate the announcer saying "ZIMBABWE!" I just so happened to get that part on video. Made me chuckle.

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The orchestra and the Grand Choir did a piece that was just stirring. This clip cannot capture just how beautiful it was in the moment.

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Bob Hunter led the school song...I only got a few minutes of it. But it will bring a tear to the eye of all you alums out there. Bob's voice may falter here and there but the man is a legend. ACU Vice President, former State Representative, and remember-er of every single person's name he's ever met. Incredible.

Thank you to ACU and Grant Boone for bringing me in and allowing me to be a part of a really wonderful experience. And...blessings to Phil and Jamie Schubert as they take up the reigns from Royce and Pam Money who have done an amazing job over the last 20 years. Here's to you, Phil! You're going to rock!

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

Oh my goodness! For a homesick Abilenian...you have done my heart some good! I love the pictures of Harolds, your dad's school - WOW - 20 years!, ACU pictures and the videos and songs. Love it! Thank you for a great post!