Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 15, 2015

Journey of a Life-Giver

Dhaka, Bangladesh

The small and densely populated nation of Bangladesh won a place in my heart more than sixteen-years ago. This country’s geographic footprint is roughly the size of Arkansas with about the equivalent of half the population of the USA crammed within its borders. When the snows of the Himalayas melt, the Brahmaputra River escorts the snow-melt all the way to the Bay of Bengal. In some places, the mud never dries. And because the ground is so saturated, whenever it rains it floods. Life here can be hard, very hard.

Airline Tickets
My friends Gary and Kurt and I arrived in Dhaka a couple of hours before sunrise this morning. The moment we stepped off the plane we were welcomed by Bangladesh’s humid embrace. And I do mean hyoo-mid in the fullest two-syllable sense of the word. On most days around here the humidity is so high that it can feel like you’re walking through hair spray.

Kurt Teaching
We are here to meet with and to introduce several of our partners to what the Bible teaches about the sanctity of human life. Over the next couple of days we will explore what it means to have a biblical worldview. We will also teach about the development of life in the womb and encourage our partners to teach these lessons to the collective thousands in their respective networks. In a few days we will also meet with more than 70 nurses and hospital administrators to discuss the importance of taking a stand for life.

Journey of a Life-Giver
I am grateful to Kurt Dillinger and the team at Life International for their excellent teaching resources. I have been privileged to join Kurt and his team in teaching about the sanctity of human life in several countries. This afternoon, we unveiled the newly translated Bangla version of the teaching material — The Journey of a Life-Giver. This practical and Biblically based material is compelling and will challenge any listener to think deeply about the worth of life and to act accordingly.

There are enough toxic world views on the planet and more than enough ways in which people demonstrate complete disregard for the worth and value of human life. We want to help change that by inviting others to join us on the journey of a life-giver.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 10, 2015

The Bend of the River

Preparing for the 2015 Texas Water Safari

A friend recently asked me why Doyle and I do all of our training for the Texas Water Safari on the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers. After all, he pointed out, there are rivers much closer to Katy that would provide more convenient training opportunities. That’s true. However, the reason we will drive two-plus hours every time we do a training run is because we want to stay current (no pun intended) with what the river is doing on the actual race course.

Boats at Fentress
A river is a dynamic place — always changing and always moving things around. That’s why it’s important for those paddling in the safari to train often on the San Marcos and Guadalupe. A newly fallen tree or a new jumble of logs and branches present not only another obstacle to navigate around but can actually alter the current. Other factors like the speed at which the water is flowing and whether the water is high or low can also impact how you paddle.

A couple of weeks ago, my son Jonathan and his safari partner paddled the first 40-miles of the course along the San Marcos. Jonathan called to caution me about a small set of rapids on the river in the vicinity of Prairie Lea, a small town near the river. Because the water was so low the last time I paddled this part of the river, this was a non-issue. Now, it is an issue. Another team that was doing a training run along this section had the misfortune of getting their canoe wrapped around a rock at these rapids.

Prairie Lea Rapids
Jonathan sent me a photo of one of the paddlers trying to wrestle the damaged canoe out of the water. The force of the water and the impact against the rock were so strong that it folded their safari-reinforced aluminum canoe in half. Yikes! That is the same aluminum canoe that Doyle and I have. Jonathan and his partner successfully ran these rapids. However, he advised us to either portage on the right bank or run the rapids on the far left and to be prepared to eat the trees.

Yesterday, Doyle and I met our new friend Henry Mecredy at the Fentress Bridge to paddle together to Luling 90, one of the checkpoints on the race. This is the section that includes the Prairie Lea rapids. When we approached the rapids we pulled over to the right bank to study the situation. As a result, we decided that on race day we will portage rather than risk damaging our boat and having our race end early. An important part of preparing for the race is being realistic about your personal skill levels and making decisions about what you will and will not do on the course. Having said that, we’d like to return to this spot after the race and run it.

Henry on San Marcos
If you study a map of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers, you will notice that these rivers wind back and forth as they flow to the sea. In order to know and to be prepared for what is around the next bend of the river, you have to spend time on the river. Every time we paddle a section of the race course we make mental notes of landmarks and distances and times. These notes will serve us well on race day, especially when paddling some of these sections at night.

I leave for Bangladesh on Monday but have already scheduled our next training run for Thursday, April 23 — just a couple of days after I return home. Doing that training run while recovering from jet lag will be a good reminder to me of what makes the Texas Water Safari the world’s toughest canoe race. Doyle and I know that anything can happen along the race to stop us or to keep us from finishing. But, we are determined to train hard over the remaining weeks in order to be prepared for what is around the next bend of the river and to go the distance.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 8, 2015

No Backing Out Now

Preparing for the 2015 Texas Water Safari

Years ago I read an engaging book entitled “Alone On The Great Wall” by William Lindsey, a British long-distance runner. Lindsey was determined to become the first foreigner to run the entire length of the Great Wall of China. Wow! I have visited the Great Wall almost a dozen times over the years. Every time I have stood on the wall its magnificence and magnitude have taken my breath away.

Lindsey completed his remarkable feat of endurance in 1987. Since then, he has become a key advocate for the conservation of the wall and its environs. In the opening paragraph of his book Lindsey wrote, “My experience is that unless you make a commitment opportunities pass by.” He is absolutely right. Lindsey added that life seemed full of people who talked about achievement but never did anything more adventurous than staying home.

Commitment is indeed an essential first step toward the realization of any dream or goal. Whether that commitment is expressed by putting your John Hancock on the dotted line or taking the steps necessary to lock you in to the course that will move you toward your goal — you have to commit. To use an old colloquialism, there comes a time when you have to “fish or cut bait.”

TWS 2015 Registration
Today was “fish or cut bait” day for me and Doyle. We have been talking for months about doing the Texas Water Safari again in 2015. We have even managed to schedule some training runs on the river. But today, we actually signed on the dotted line and registered for the Texas River Marathon (the preliminary race) and the Texas Water Safari. We are all-in and there is no turning back.

After we submitted our registration and payment, everything felt different. Signing up for these two races makes it all the more real. And, we are all the more determined to train for the safari as much as we can in these final weeks before the starting gun goes off at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos. We know we still have lots of work ahead of us, including meetings with our team captains (our daughters), working on our split times, tweaking a few things on our canoe, and planning our nutrition schedule.

Running Cottonseed Rapids
As I shared in a previous blog post, we are also very excited about paddling with a purpose. We will paddle to raise support to help at-risk kids in Houston’s Third Ward get the educational boost they need at Generation One Academy. My daughter Niki has set up a page where we will ask family and friends to invest in helping these kids. 100% of everything invested will be used to help the children at Generation One. Together we can help change the future for kids living under tough circumstances. You can check out our page at Reason2Race.

Thanks for once again following our journey of preparation to do the 2015 Texas Water Safari. You can also follow our team on Facebook/LoneStarPastors. More to come.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 3, 2015

You’ve Got to Have Heart

Preparing for the 2015 Texas Water Safari

Springtime is undoubtedly the best time to travel Texas highways and backroads. The colorful splashes and dribbles of wildflowers along our roadways make driving in the Lone Star State an absolute pleasure. And, as someone who enjoys paddling on Texas rivers, this is also the best time of the year to be on the water. Those same wildflowers can be found in abundance along the banks of Texas waterways.

Early yesterday morning, my friend Doyle and I drove to the San Marcos River to train for this year’s Texas Water Safari. Earlier this week I posted the story of Melissa James, the young lady whose courage and determination at last year’s safari inspired so many paddlers. Doyle and I were privileged to meet Melissa in San Marcos along with another paddler from Austin named Andrew. Our objective was to paddle the first 27-miles of the 260-mile Texas Water Safari race course.

With the safari only weeks away, Doyle and I are feeling the pressure to intensify our training. It was nice to join Melissa and Andrew on a training run. Melissa will paddle solo in a C1 canoe this year. This was her first training run in her C1 on this part of the course. Andrew finished the race last year but will not paddle this year. Instead he will join the folks at the checkpoints to offer encouragement to racers. That’s important and means a lot to those on the water.

Doyle and I paddled hard and kept up a good safari pace — at least a good pace for us. There are plenty of younger and stronger paddlers but we have a good handle on how to pace ourselves for the 260-mile distance. In the coming weeks, we will meet with our team captains to work out our split times for the course and to talk about our nutrition schedule. But for the moment, yesterday’s training run reminded us how hard the actual race will be.

Our time with Melissa also reminded us of something that is vital in order to survive and finish the grueling safari course. Heart — you’ve got to have heart! Your heart has got to be in this race otherwise you are not likely to go the distance. Last year, Melissa demonstrated that she has the heart of a lion. She is once again determined to go the distance. We were encouraged by her example and believe she will indeed go the distance in her first solo attempt.

Doyle and I have got lots of work to do in the next few weeks in order to be ready for our upcoming epic paddling adventure. And this year, we are paddling with a purpose. We will race to raise support to help at-risk kids in Houston’s Third Ward get the educational boost they need at Generation One Academy. My daughter Niki has just set up a special page where we will ask family and friends to invest in helping these kids. 100% of everything invested will be used to help the children at Generation One. Together we can help change the future for kids living under tough circumstances. You can check out our page at Reason2Race.

Thanks for once again following our journey of preparation to do the 2015 Texas Water Safari. You can also follow our team on Facebook/LoneStarPastors. More to come.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 29, 2015

Resolve on the River

A Story of Courage and Determination on the 2014 Texas Water Safari

The 2015 Texas Water Safari is only weeks away. This 260-mile ultramarathon race is more than the world’s toughest canoe race — it is the context in which ordinary people display amazing resolve. Every year, paddlers in canoes and kayaks line up in San Marcos to begin the grueling journey toward the finish line in Seadrift which is, by some estimates, a quarter of a million paddle strokes away from the spring-fed waters of the San Marcos River.

Every year, inspirational and sometimes heartbreaking stories are written in the currents, one paddle stroke at a time. Most of these stories never make the headlines but instead become a treasured part of safari lore that are retold by paddlers. In the short time that I have been a part of the paddling community, I have come to especially appreciate the stories that never make the headlines — stories of courage and resolve that happen quietly along the arduous journey.

Melissa at Cottonseed
After attempting and finishing the safari two years in a row, I took a hiatus from the race in 2014. Showing up at the starting line of the race last year proved more painful than I could have imagined. Although I wanted to be on the water, I was excited about cheering on several friends. My son Jonathan, a three-time finisher, also took a break from the race and followed friends from checkpoint to checkpoint. That’s how I learned about boat number 7481, a novice tandem team racing in an aluminum canoe.

Melissa and Gary
A young lady named Melissa James and her partner Gary, a competitive athlete, were paddling boat number 7481. This was Melissa’s second attempt to finish the safari. The year before, Melissa and her partner had paddled as far as the Salt Water Barrier, the final checkpoint located only 16-miles from the finish line. That’s where Melissa’s partner had to drop out of the race due to life-threatening heat stroke. Melissa returned in 2014 to attempt the race a second time — this time with a new paddling partner.

Those who compete in the Texas Water Safari, no matter how strong or experienced, will vouch for one thing — and that is that anything unexpected can happen along the way to put you out of the race or seriously compromise your chances of finishing the course. And that is exactly what happened to Melissa a second time. Gary had to make a tough decision to drop out of the race at Gonzales, the 80-mile checkpoint. Melissa and Gary were in third place in the novice division when they reached Gonzales.

Melissa with Log
Celeste Richardson, co-captain for boat 7481, encouraged Melissa to keep going. Fighting her emotions, Melissa agreed. She put a huge log in the bow of the canoe to trim the boat and paddled on toward the next checkpoint at Hoccheim. With every painful paddle stroke, Melissa contemplated ending her bid at Hoccheim and returning to Austin. When another novice team paddled by and asked how she was doing, Melissa broke down and wept.

How was she doing? In her exhausted mind she was moving too slow to finish, she was battling doubts about facing the infamous log jam, and she was wondering how she would survive the 5-mile crossing from the mouth of the Guadalupe River across the open waters of San Antonio Bay to the finish line in Seadrift. The guys in the other boat reminded her about another paddler who had faced similar circumstances the year before and finished the race without his partner. Melissa paddled on.

As if to add insult to injury, just before sunset and only a few miles from the next checkpoint, Melissa got caught in a sweeper current that flipped her out of her canoe and sunk the canoe. She wrestled the boat out of the water and replaced the log with three large rocks and paddled on. To her surprise, her speed jumped from just over two miles per hour to four. That’s when she knew she was capable of finishing the race.

Melissa at Night
Melissa continued paddling but did not have the luxury of getting much rest. She had started the race on Saturday morning and lost her partner on Sunday morning. Over the course of the race she slept only thirty-minutes on Sunday, one-hour on Monday, and thirty-minutes on Tuesday. Exhausted, she found herself repeatedly falling asleep while paddling and suffered intense hallucinations, something that paddlers know they will experience to some degree over the course of the race.

The most frightening time of the race for Melissa happened at the infamous log jam. Without question the most brutal portages on the race are found on this section of the course just downriver from Victoria. Every year, paddlers get lost or give up at this point in the race. Melissa’s canoe got sucked into the logs where she had seen an alligator. But somehow, summoning extra-human strength, she managed to get past the log jam and arrived at the Salt Water Barrier where her partner had dropped out the year before.

MJ 8
Only 16-miles from the finish line and a little more than 10-miles from the mouth of the Guadalupe River, Melissa trudged on stroke by stroke. When she reached San Antonio Bay at the mouth of the river, the wind was blowing hard, making the bay crossing that much more difficult. Melissa paddled and also jumped into the shallow bay and dragged her canoe toward the finish line. When she reached the barge canal, she jumped onto the bow of the canoe and paddled across the deep waters.

MJ 6
After paddling across the barge canal, Melissa again jumped into the water and waded through an infestation of jellyfish and shuffled her feet to avoid stingrays. At 12:59 PM, just one-minute from the 100-hour cut-off time Melissa caught sight of Holly Orr, a multi-safari finisher and paddling instructor. Holly waved and gestured to Melissa to keep going.

MJ 5
Melissa arrived at the finish line at 2:01 PM, one-hour and one-minute after the cutoff. To her surprise, a big group of paddlers and supporters had gathered to see her reach the finish line. Jon Schoepflin, a paddler who had encouraged her soon after she had left the Gonzalez checkpoint on Sunday morning, walked up to Melissa and gave her his safari patch — a coveted prize for safari finishers. Others were standing in line to do the same. “Those moments,” Melissa told me, “I will never forget.”

Melissa James’ story captures the true spirit of the Texas Water Safari — digging deep and making discoveries about yourself that you can only make in the context of a hard task. And her story reminds us of the importance of encouraging and cheering others on, especially when they don’t think they can muster the strength to take another paddle stroke. And, of course, the magnanimous gesture of good sportsmanship demonstrated by Jon and other paddlers who offered Melissa their patches says something really good about the people in the paddling community.

Melissa James
When I asked Melissa if she will attempt the safari again, she said yes. Her third attempt will be in a solo C1 boat. I’m looking forward to seeing Melissa at the starting line in San Marcos in just a couple of months. You can be sure that she has my deepest respect and that I will be cheering her on toward the finish line. That’s what we in the paddling community do here in Texas. Go Melissa! You are an inspiration to us all.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 28, 2015

I Hate Weeds

Weeds. I hate weeds! Weeds are like the roaches of gardening. Just about the time you think you’ve got them under control they come back with a vengeance. I spent the morning pulling weeds at the Katy Christian Ministries garden with some of the folks from Kingsland’s Christian Fellowship ABF. After the cold and soggy weather we have endured in recent weeks, it was nice to be outdoors on this beautiful Saturday morning — even if it meant pulling weeds.

Pulling weeds is hard work. I spent a lot of time on my knees carefully pinching weeds by the throat and tugging on them to make sure I pulled them up with their roots in tow. Trying to pull weeds up, roots and all, is not easy. That’s because weeds tend to be stubborn and uncooperative. Some of the weeds I wrestled with today had roots that ran all the way into the next county. I may have won the battle but I know that the pesky weeds I pulled will secretly wage their underground war to regain the ground they lost today.

After our weed-pulling, we turned the soil and then planted some really pretty flowers. Planting the colorful flowers made the time we spent pulling weeds and preparing the soil worthwhile. Looking at the several trash bags filled with troublesome weeds and the freshly planted flowers in the garden reminded me of the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13 where Jesus talked about weeds. “The weeds are the sons of the evil one and the enemy who sows them,” Jesus said. At the end of the age He will send His angels to do some weeding. Bottom line: the weeds will ultimately lose.

Late this afternoon, Cheryl and I decided to take a road trip down our favorite Farm to Market roads to see the wildflowers. We love this time of the year when the highways in the Lone Star State are dribbled with beautiful patches of Texas Bluebonnets accented with red splashes of Indian Paintbrushes. We had such a great time following the flower trail that before we realized it we had driven 175-miles. But, it was all worth it just to see these gorgeous flowers growing amidst the weeds. The weeds, in fact, only served to accentuate the beauty of the flowers.

Bluebonnets Wire Fence
I love Spring in Texas — that wonderful time of the year when the state begins to yawn and stretch and to wake up after its Winter slumber. As we made our way back home we lost count of the number of folks we saw taking pictures of and among the bluebonnets along the roadways. We even saw the Texas Country Reporter guys talking pictures of the people taking pictures among the bluebonnets. None of the folks we saw today were compelled to leave home on this beautiful Saturday to take pictures of weeds. That’s because weeds are uninspiring.

One of my favorite moments was when we saw three scarecrows in a large garden next to a house on a backroad. When I stopped to snap a pic of the scarecrows, the middle scarecrow moved. That middle scarecrow was actually an old farmer out tending his garden. We all had a good laugh and a great conversation about gardening. He too has to battle weeds and also some pesky birds. Before we left, the old farmer invited us to come again. “We always harvest more than we can eat,” he said. “And we’d be happy to share some of our bounty with you.” As we waved goodbye, I smiled. It’s great to live in Texas, weeds and all.

Old Truck

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 26, 2015

A Challenge to Husbands

Last night, my Band of Fathers core group discussed all-in marriage. We agreed that loving and being faithful to our wives is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, and our children’s children. I was one of those fortunate kids whose grandparents and parents were deeply in love with each another. As a kid, I unwittingly learned a lot about love and commitment by watching the tender ways in which my grandfather expressed his love for my grandmother. And, my Dad’s example of loving my beautiful Mom filled our home with joy and a comforting stability.

My grandparents, Lucy and Felipe Garcia.

My grandparents, Lucy and Felipe Garcia.

The book of Proverbs (5:18-19) encourages men to be satisfied with their wives and to not seek satisfaction elsewhere. Our group talked about the danger of comparing our wives to other women, the old greener grass syndrome. Comparing our wives to other women — whether real, digital, or imaginary — is a root cause of dissatisfaction and disillusionment in many marriages today. Our wives certainly deserve better than that. We owe it to our wives to honor our marriage vows in thought, word, and deed.

A couple of years ago I posted a blog entitled “The Greenest Grass.” I wrote, in part: Whether we are talking about our lawns, our jobs, or our marriages, the grass will not be that much greener anywhere else. One reason the grass does appear to look greener to us at times is because we tend to value what we want more than what we have. As for me, I prefer to water my own grass and to make the place where I live, the job that I have, and my marriage the greenest and healthiest thing around. If I will be faithful to do that, then I will always live on the greenest side of the fence.

November 22, 1980

November 22, 1980

Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” I definitely found a good thing when I met and later married Cheryl. Years ago, I made a list of ten things that I want to be able to tell Cheryl from my death-bed. My little list keeps me focused and reminds me to make the kinds of choices that will enable me to keep each item on my list. Making those good choices is the fertilizer that keeps my own grass healthy and green.

At the conclusion of our time together last night, I challenged each of the men in my Band of Fathers to spend the next two weeks coming up with their own list of ten things they would like to share with their wives before they die. I can’t wait to hear what the guys come up with. I’m pretty sure that there will be many common items in each of our lists.

If you are married (or getting married), I challenge you to do the same. Prayerfully consider making your own list and then bless your wife (or fiancé) by sharing it with her. You’ll be amazed at how this simple exercise will bless your wife (or fiancé) and ensure that you always live on the greener side of the fence.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 21, 2015

Band of Fathers On Mission

God is undeniably up to something among the men of Kingsland. This past Thursday more than 300 men gathered at Kingsland for an evening of inspiration and encouragement. The theme of the night was “Brotherhood.” Brad Flurry, USMC Retired and Director of Operations at Kingsland, talked to our men about the importance of brotherhood in the Marine corps. Brad drove home the importance of brotherhood by reminding us of two key things: Alone is Dangerous and You Are Not Unbreakable. “Every man needs another man,” Brad emphasized, “to cover his 6” — military-speak for his back or blind side.
Processed with MoldivI had the opportunity to share a few words about my new Band of Fathers core group. Our objective as a band of fathers is to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and our sons through shared study, shared mission, and shared adventure. We believe that all three of these elements are important if we are to succeed in building strong relationships with our sons and in helping our sons to become godly men who will one day lead their families well.
Processed with MoldivThis morning, we had our very first Band of Fathers shared mission initiative at The Manna House in Brookshire. Although rain was in the forecast, every one of our men was determined to serve in spite of the weather. So, we met at Manna House this morning to replace the irrigation system in the garden, to install irrigation to the fruit trees we planted during Caring for Katy, to install new flooring and shelving in their laundry room, and to clean out rain gutters. We did all of this under gray skies. The rain held off until we loaded the last tool into our Go Beyond van.
Processed with MoldivWatching fathers and sons work shoulder-to-shoulder was inspiring. I enjoyed listening to the laughter and conversations between older sons and younger sons and watching as older sons mentored the younger boys on how to do a job well. Bottom line is that every father and son who was present this morning worked hard and enjoyed themselves. We accomplished a lot in just a few short hours but, more importantly, we took an important step in strengthening the bonds between us as fathers and sons.

After we completed our work, we gathered with the residents of Manna House to listen as two of the men shared with us about their personal journeys. Powerful. One young man told us that he became just like his dad — a drug addict. “My dad,” he said, “showed me how to roll weed and encouraged me to smoke it.” He told us about his dark journey to the bottom. Another told us how moved he was to see fathers and sons working together, a privilege he had lost with is own boys because of his addiction. Both men repeated a strong warning to the sons in the room about the dangers of drug use and encouraged us to build strong father/son bonds. Extremely powerful words.
Processed with MoldivWe ended our morning by going out to lunch with the men of Manna House. Sharing a meal with our band of fathers and sons was a blast. I sat next to one of the newest residents at Manna House — a guy who was homeless only a month ago but who is determined to get his life together. What a privilege it was to hear his story and to have the opportunity to speak encouraging words to him. I know we are going to become good friends over the coming months.

I am thankful for my Band of Fathers — men who are committed to leading their sons well. As our time together came to an end the guys all said the same thing: We must do this again! And, indeed we will because as a Band of Fathers we are committed to growing in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and our sons through shared study, shared mission, and shared adventure.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 19, 2015

Band of Fathers

Earlier this year, my friend Gil Harris, the director of our Men of Kingsland ministry, asked me to pray about starting a new core group. Gil knows my heart and my desire to come alongside dads interested in strengthening their relationships with their sons. So, I agreed to start a core group especially for fathers interested in becoming better dads and champions to their sons. We call ourselves the Band of Fathers. Our objective is to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and our sons through shared study, shared mission, and shared adventure.

Band of Fathers Logo 2In addition to spending time together in the study of God’s Word, we are also committed to serving others together with our sons. Our first shared mission initiative is scheduled for this Saturday. We will serve at the Manna House in Brookshire and then have a time of fellowship with the men who live there. We are also planning our first shared adventure — a rugged outdoors adventure that will help us to make great memories with our sons. We’ve got some pretty cool stuff in the works.

Last night we talked about the importance of putting family first and being intentional about having family fun. We believe that the good times we enjoy today will create great memories for the future — the kind of memories that will bless our children long after we are gone. We want to create memories of family fun but also memories of having fun while serving others and bringing glory to God.

As part of our discussion, I asked the guys to share some memories of family fun from their childhood. The feedback was great. Every guy in the room had so many good memories of things their fathers did to spend time with them — sharing outdoor adventures, getting out of the city and away from distractions to do things together, getting away from technology in order to actually talk face to face, and more. Loved hearing about things like “penny hikes” — in other words, flipping a coin at a fork in the road in order to determine which way to go on a “lost boys adventure.” Pretty cool.

The words “simple things” kept surfacing in our discussion. The things that created the best memories for the guys was not stuff but instead simple things that they did with their dads. The common thread in all of our memories was the involvement of our dads and that nothing really cost a lot of money. Our discussion made us think about the things we are doing to make good memories with our sons, the kind of memories that will bless them for a lifetime.

Although our group is new, I am excited about starting this great adventure with my Band of Fathers. We look forward to getting to know one another better, to sharing time in the study of God’s Word, and to serving others and experiencing outdoor adventures with our sons. I encourage all of the men at Kingsland to get involved in our Men of Kingsland ministry and to become a part of a core group — a band of brothers who can help one another to make greater strides toward becoming the men God wants us to be.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 12, 2015

Biking the Bayfront

Almost fifty-five years have passed since I first visited Corpus Christi. My sister and I were just kids when our folks introduced us to the Sparkling City by the Sea on a family vacation. I confess that I was a bit frightened by the vast expanse of water that seemed to dissolve into the distant horizon a million miles away. And I was also concerned because my sister’s nickname is Bonnie and I remember my Mom singing the old Scottish folk song, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” I was afraid that at any moment a wave might scoop Bonnie up in its foamy arms and carry her to a place far away over the ocean.

Bay View Ride
Thirty-seven years ago I returned to Corpus Christi, never expecting that I would spend the next seven years of my life in this coastal city. When I drove down Shoreline Drive for the first time, I felt as though I had found my Shangri-La. Could any place on the planet be as beautiful? The city seemed to be perched on the edge of the world. And, that same vast open water that I had first seen as a kid made the whole world seem like it was within reach. Over the years since then I have stood on beaches and coastlines on the other side of the world and looked back toward Corpus Christi.

Shrimp Boat
Cheryl and I are in Corpus once again this week to help care for her aging mom. Those who know my mother-in-law know that when I married Cheryl I also won the mother-in-law lottery. I count it a privilege to spend time with her and to help feed and care for her. Although she is physically frail and so many of her memories have melted together, she maintains a great sense of humor, a remarkable kindness, and an incredible appetite for chocolate. She is delightful to be around.

USS Lexington
This morning I ventured back to Shoreline Drive to ride my bike. I started near the ship channel where the USS Lexington is permanently moored and rode south along the beautiful bayfront. There were a surprising number of tourists walking along Shoreline Drive this morning in spite of the overcast skies and chilly breeze. I also swooped down into the t-heads to ride slowly past the boats and to watch the fishermen casting their rods against the wind. Apparently others agreed that the day was just too nice to stay indoors.

I only rode about eight miles this morning but my intention was not to do a lengthy ride but instead to linger and enjoy the beautiful views — the sky, the sea, the birds and the boats, and the big ships that come here from all over the world. I stopped a lot along the way to just look out and to soak in the beauty that I first saw so long ago. I am glad that my folks introduced me to this place when I was a kid and that God allowed me to spend a few years of my life here. Biking the bayfront was a fun and affordable adventure, one that I hope to do again the next time I return to the Sparkling City by the Sea.

Bike and Boats

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